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In the case of mail order purchases, a supplier is a business entity who hands over goods or services to a customer by means of delivery .


The noun agentis supplier appeared from 1688 in the spelling “von den Livranten”. The word borrowed the Low German merchant language from "deliver" ( Dutch leveren ), the Dutch from French livrer and the French language from "give out" ( Latin liberare ). The title purveyor to the court was first used in 1713 for the privileges granted by the court of the king , emperor or prince to be able to supply them exclusively.


Companies , but less private households or the state , are considered as supplying economic agents. When presence purchase over the counter, there is no need for suppliers, but this is not required until the dispatch of purchase. From a mail order purchase is when the supplier has its place of business not on the residence has the customers. In this case, according to the delivery conditions , the supplier either only bears the transport costs to the nearest post office , train station , port or airport (" freight collect ") or all transport costs (" free domicile "). Have supplier and customer headquartered at the same location ( local sale ), which is of fulfillment of delivery directly in the company of the supplier.

economic aspects

The supplier can manufacturers or distributors be of the goods or - in the - in the broader sense Contract active carriers , logistics service or postal service . There are therefore suppliers on all multi-level supply chains . As a rule, numerous economic entities are involved in a supply chain, making their respective contributions to the added value until the end product can finally be bought by the consumer . The supplier ( automotive supplier ) is the supplier of the factory in the supplier pyramid, the factory is the supplier to the wholesalers , this is the supplier to the retail trade and the latter supplies the customer. Suppliers' own delivery vans are often used. A sub-supplier within a supply chain is someone who supplies the manufacturer with raw materials , auxiliary materials or supplies , semi-finished products or individual parts . The supply chain becomes the “upstream supplier - supplier - manufacturer - retailer - end consumer” value chain , whereby the respective preliminary work has to be adjusted in economics .

Upstream suppliers or sub-suppliers play an important role within a supply chain based on the division of labor, especially in just-in-time production . The reliability of the suppliers required for this is part of the supplier evaluation as a method of business administration for the systematic assessment of the performance of suppliers based on defined characteristics.

A supplier risk arises if there is a relationship between the supplier and its sub-suppliers, for example through belonging to a group or through strong sales dependencies or monopoly positions . If this pre-supplier is also a competitor of the procuring company (e.g. due to a counter-deal ), such a dependency is particularly serious. From the perspective of risk management or lender perspective of banks , these are an idiosyncratic risk because the financial difficulties (or in a bilateral relationship breakdowns ) could affect a supplier by this ratio to the other companies that would otherwise not affected.

If the supplier is a manufacturer or retailer and owner of the goods, he can his customers cash and the property gain thereto. If he grants the buyer a payment term based on the payment terms, he grants a supplier credit . The buyer is now also called the debtor , the supplier ( creditor ) can insure against the credit risk through retention of title or credit insurance.

Legal issues

Supplier is also a legal term that appears in various laws. According to Section 3 No. 19b EnWG , the “gas supplier” is a natural or legal person “whose business activity is wholly or partially geared towards the sale of gas for the purpose of supplying end consumers”. The supplier therefore sells goods that he delivers to consumers. According to § 445a Paragraph 1 BGB , the seller is to be regarded as a supplier. In 478 para. 1 BGB a. F. contained a legal definition according to which a supplier was considered to be whoever sold the thing as an entrepreneur . The prerequisite here was that the seller (manufacturer, dealer) also delivers himself at the same time.

In the case of consumer goods purchases , on the other hand, the supplier is the person who has delivered the consumable goods sold by the seller to the consumer, regardless of whether they were manufactured themselves or obtained from another (pre-supplier). The sub-supplier is therefore considered to be the supplier, the sub-supplier (especially of individual parts) is not legally a supplier. Section 478 (1) of the German Civil Code (BGB) now provides the entrepreneur with the option of recourse if the last contract in the supply chain is a sale of consumer goods. The claims of the supplier and the other buyers in the supply chain against the respective seller then apply accordingly in accordance with Section 478 (3) BGB if the debtors are entrepreneurs. The consequence of this is that the warranty liability triggered by the consumer can be "passed on" along the entire supply chain to the manufacturer ("final seller recourse").

The "final seller recourse" has an impact on commercial law . If the purchase is a commercial transaction for both parties , the buyer must inspect the goods immediately after delivery by the seller and, if a quality defect becomes apparent , notify the seller immediately ( Section 377 (1) HGB ). Neither an existing commercial custom or custom in the industry nor the assurance of a property by the supplier can release the buyer from this obligation to examine. "Recourse to the final seller" is at least made more difficult by Section 377 of the German Commercial Code (HGB), because it restricts the recourse of the corporate final seller and requires him to examine the goods delivered.

If the seller assigns the delivery to someone else, the legal situation outside of the sale of consumer goods is different. In principle, the seller's supplier is not his vicarious agent in fulfilling his obligations towards the buyer. If, on the other hand, the supplier has come into contact with the buyer on the instructions of the seller in order to deliver the goods directly to the buyer, then he is deemed to be a vicarious agent. On the other hand, transport companies and forwarding agents are generally not vicarious agents .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Supplier  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Fricker, Daniel: Current problems in supplier relationship management, findings and measures , WiKu-Verlag Verlag für Wissenschaft und Kultur, 2008, ISBN 978-3-86553-287-9 .
  • Wagner, SM: Strategic supplier management in industrial companies: an empirical study of design concepts . Frankfurt / Main et al. Zugl. St. Gallen, Univ., Diss., 2000

Individual evidence

  1. Richard Schück , Brandenburg-Prussia's Colonial Policy under the Great Elector and His Successors (1647-1721) , Volume 2, 1889, p. 319
  2. Heike Baeskow, Derived personal designations in German and English , 2002, p. 310
  3. Klaus-Werner Wirtz / Wilhelm Mülder, E-Business , 2016, o. P.
  4. Gudrun Maria Wingert, Competitive Advantages Through Supplier Integration , 1997, p. 71
  5. Reiner Meierbeck, Strategic Risk Management of Procurement , 2010, p. 194
  6. Otto Palandt / Walter Weidenkaff, BGB Commentary , 73rd edition, 2014, marginal no. 6 before Section 474
  7. Peter Mankowski , A supplier is not a supplier - consequences of the limited scope of the recourse regulation in §§ 478, 479 BGB , in: DB, 2002, p. 2419
  8. Stefan Greiner, Law of Obligations Special Part: Contractual Obligations , 2011, p. 91 f.
  9. BGH, judgment of September 17, 2002, Az .: X ZR 248/00
  10. Wolfgang Krauss, The Effects of the Law of Obligations Reform on Software Contracts , 2004, p. 108
  11. RGZ 101, 157, 158
  12. RGZ 108, 221, 223
  13. BGHZ, 50, 32 , 35