I'm trying to understand what the nuances of the term 代理店 as it is used in business communications. For example, if a 卸会社 tells a 販売店 their products are available for resale, however they are not looking for a 代理店, what is the difference between those two types of business relationships?

Most dictionaries I've seen translate 代理店 as "agency", but that term doesn't seem to fit regarding product distribution.

Is being a 代理店 for a company's products something like "an authorized dealer"? Does it typically imply an exclusive contract, so that other companies cannot compete selling the same products?

  • 代理店 has no stock. 販売店 has a stock. If a manufacturer makes a contract with 代理店, it doesn't directly sell products, does it?
    – nariuji
    Apr 27, 2016 at 16:20
  • I'm a bit confused. So you are saying a 代理店 just tells the customer "so-and-so company has these products to buy if you want". Can you give me a specific example of an American company (hopefully well known) that does something like a 代理店?
    – Locksleyu
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:05
  • I don't know about American companies but big insurance companies in Japan have many 代理店. They make 代理店 act for formalities of insurance, though the agreement for insurance is contracted between a big company and a customer. Apr 27, 2016 at 17:55
  • Speaking of which, I have heard there is no system of Japanese 問屋 in USA. I think that the distribution industry in Japan is different from USA's one. I guess that the "Sales Representative" is similar to 代理店 in Japan.
    – nariuji
    Apr 27, 2016 at 23:06
  • nariuji: Thank you very much for mentioning that, it's good to know!
    – Locksleyu
    Apr 28, 2016 at 0:40

2 Answers 2


代理店(agent) is that, sellers entrust 代理店 to sell their products, 代理店 sell them to customers. The agreement of sale is contracted between sellers and customers and 代理店 only broker them.

販売店(distributor) is that, sellers sell their products to 販売店, 販売店 sell them to customers. The agreement of sale is contracted between sellers and 販売店, also between 販売店 and customers.

It may help you. http://www.english-agreement.com/article/14847232.html


When you say 代理店, there are many types of 代理店, for example, 販売代理店 meaning sales distributor, 取次(とりつぎ)代理店 - agent, jobber, 生命 / 海上火災保険代理店 – life insurance / fire & marine Insurance agency / agent, and notably 広告代理店, ad agency known by "Mad Men."

Even Dentsu, the world's largest ad agency that handles more than ¥4,642 billion (US$43.6 billion) ad expenditures a year (2015), dictates, and virtually monopolizes whole the Olympic Games-related business in Japan is simply calld a 代理店 in ad world, because their business is essentialily a broker of time and space between mass media and advertisers.

代理店 is also called as 取次(とりつぎ)店 and 中継(なかつぎ)店.

We even call a wholesaler as 一次卸代理店 (primary wholeseller) or 二次卸代理店 (secondary wholeseller). When you say 販売代理店, it can be a retailer who sells the products of a particular maker. So the scope of the functions and meaning of 代理店 are very broad.

“Authorized dealer” can be translated as 特約販売代理店. Electric /electronic products makers such as Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Sharp used to organize their sales channels under the umbrella of this name until a couple of decades ago, but this system is almost extinct today along with the rise of large scale electric / electronic products distributors like Big Camera, Yamada-Denki, and Yodobashi Camera.

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