This study focuses on the long-lasting discussion about the potential disintermediation of wholesalers from distribution channels. We take the perspective that a wholesaler can em- phasize different functions in its offer and that this influences the risk of being eliminated from the distribution channel. Using a sample of 432 German wholesale companies, we dem- onstrate that an emphasis on the logistics function helps the wholesaler to remain a valuable part of the distribution chain while a focus on the marketing function enhances the likelihood to be disintermediated. This reveals that strategies that may be effective in the horizontal competition against wholesale competitors may indeed enhance specific investments to a level where vertical integration into the value chain of the supplier or the customer becomes more efficient.
Furthermore, we confirm that the greatest threat for the wholesalers stems from the increasing concentration of the suppliers and the customers.