What Does MSRP Mean in Wholesale? - Alibaba Seller

Alibaba.com OCTOBER 27, 20238 MIN READ
What Does MSRP Mean in Wholesale? - Alibaba Seller

Price is one of the most important things to consider in business because it determines profitability. It’s essential to provide customers with a reasonable price while receiving a great return on your investment. Understanding the MSRP can help wholesalers and retailers determine the best price to give customers while making a decent profit. In this article, we discuss what MSRP means and its role in pricing strategy.

What is MSRP?

MSRP is an acronym for Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. It is the price that a manufacturer recommends for retailers who want to sell to end customers. MSRP is usually around 2.5 to 3 times the wholesale price.

MSRP is also known by other names like list price, sticker price, recommended retail price, and suggested retail price. Some products carry a sticker price on their packaging to reflect the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Business owners can reference the MSRP to set strategic prices that attract a strong customer base and allow them to make a profit.

How does the MSRP work?

The primary purpose of MSRP is to keep prices on the same level from store to store while ensuring that everyone involved (manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer) makes a profit after the sale. Instead of having prices that vary from retailer to retailer, MSRP serves as a benchmark price that customers can use for negotiation.

While a manufacturer wishes that the MSRP be honored, not all retailers stick to it, so consumers do not always pay the suggested retail price when they make purchases. A retailer might decide to sell higher than the MSRP to make more profit to sell at a lower than the MSRP to move more inventory off the shelves. Meanwhile, some countries like India have a Maximum Retail Price (MRP); in this case, selling a product higher than the MRP is illegal.

The role of MSRP in pricing strategy

MSRP is simply the price a manufacturer recommends for retailers to set product prices. Setting an MSRP ensures fair trading of goods and standardizes the cost of goods throughout different locations.

One of the benefits of MSRP is that it helps consumers identify the fair amount they should pay for goods. Also, MSRP usually serves as a starting point for retailers to determine the final sale price of an item. In the retail world, MSRP is the minimum price for a product, and retailers are recommended to sell at that price.

As an e-commerce business that wants to set a market price, you can use the suggested retail price as a reference. Meanwhile, MSRP sometimes isn’t enough to determine the final price of a product as you have to consider other factors like taxes, shipping, and costs of goods. If you want to sell some products faster, a great pricing strategy will be setting your prices below MSRP to attract more customers. Also, if you have a high-demand product, a great price strategy is selling at a price higher than the MSRP.

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) impacts pricing in the following ways:

  • Help set a standardized price

    MSRP provides a benchmark price that helps ensure consistent prices across different stores and among various retailers. This uniform price also helps maintain a transparent brand image and prevents retailers from undercutting each other.

  • Manage profitability

    A manufacturer determines MSRP, and it reflects the costs incurred during the manufacturing process and the average prices for retailers. One significant role of MSRP in pricing strategy is allowing the manufacturer, wholesalers, and retailers to profit from the final sale.

  • Determines competitive pricing

    Knowing the MSRP of a product can help retailers set a competitive price for their products. Although retailers have no obligation to sell items at the MSRP, they can use it as a reference to develop their final price. Retailers may decide to make their prices higher or lower depending on factors like market conditions and wholesale price.

  • Signify brand value

    MSRP can help a manufacturer build brand value by setting a high retail price to create a perception of high quality. Similarly, you can set a lower MSRP to indicate that your item is budget-friendly.

  • Guide customers' expectations of price

    MSRP communicates the value of a product to customers so that they know the price range to expect from retailers. For example, if the MSRP is $30 and a retailer sells for $100, then a customer will suspect the price is not right. Also, if a retailer sells way less than the MSRP, a customer might guess that the retailer is selling a dupe of the product.

  • Influences a retailer’s buying decisions

    MSRP with a competitive and reasonable profit margin will surely attract retailers because it gives them enough room to make profits. A retailer may decide not to stock the item if the MSRP has a low-profit margin.

MSRP vs. Wholesale price

MSRP is very different from wholesale price. One of the key differences between MSRP and Wholesale price is that the manufacturer sets MSRP as a reference for retailers. In contrast, the wholesale price is the cost that manufacturers sell their products to people who buy in bulk.

Wholesale price

  • Wholesale price is what a retailer/wholesaler pays a manufacturer/distributor to purchase goods in bulk for resale.
  • The wholesale price is usually lower than MSRP and gives room for both wholesalers and retailers to make a cut when they sell to customers.
  • While MSRP is standardized, the wholesale price isn’t. Wholesale prices usually vary based on factors like order quantities and negotiated terms.


  • MSRP, on the other hand, is the suggested retail price a manufacturer recommends to a retailer.
  • The purpose is to establish standardized pricing across stores and set a price that consumers will be willing to pay.
  • MSRP is usually higher than wholesale price as it includes a manufacturer’s desired profit margin and considers additional costs involved in production.
  • MSRP is a recommended price, so it is not mandatory for retailers to follow it. However, manufacturers can enforce the pricing for their retailers.

How do these two pricing factors affect profitability?

Wholesalers need to offer competitive pricing to retailers while maintaining their profit margin.

  • Wholesalers buy at wholesale prices (which is lower than MSRP) and allow them to make a profit after selling to their retail partners.
  • Understanding how MSRP works can help wholesalers identify the right price to sell to retailers to maximize their profit. In other words, wholesalers can determine the cost to sell to retailers based on the MSRP.
  • Wholesale price is not fixed, as factors like shipping, demand, order quantity, and negotiation skills can influence a wholesaler's price.

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How to set MSRP in wholesale?

One of the things to consider when setting MSRP is to answer the question, “How much are customers willing to pay for a unit of this item?” Some tips to help you answer this question and set MSRP in wholesale include the following:

Research the market

Before setting an MSRP, research your industry and see where you fit it. For example, if you are perceived as a luxury brand, your price will be higher than if you were perceived as a discount brand.

Also, you should figure out who your target audiences are. Are they budget-conscious or seeking high-end products? Your desired target audience will affect your pricing.

Check out your competitors

Another pricing strategy to set MSRP is checking out other brands offering similar products that you do. What is their MSRP set at? It’s a good idea to stay within the pricing range of your competitors to make your products desirable to your audience.

Calculate the cost of goods manufactured

Manufacturers consider many things when setting the MSRP, including the cost of production, materials, and labor. Calculating every cost that goes into purchasing or producing a product is essential to help you figure out the MSRP.

Cost of goods manufactured = Total material cost + Total labor cost + Additional costs and Overhead

Set your profit margin

Profit margin is a business owner's gross profit when an item is sold. When setting an MSRP in wholesale, it’s recommended to multiply the cost of goods by two to have a profit margin of at least 50%.

Calculate the MSRP

The MSRP is usually calculated with the formula below:

MSRP= Wholesale Price/ (1- Profit Margin)

Let’s say the wholesale price of a product is estimated at $25 with a profit margin of 50%.

  • First, convert the profit margin into decimals. 50% = 0.5
  • Subtract it from 1. 1-0.5 = 0.5
  • Divide the wholesale price by 0.5. 25/0.5
  • The retail price is $50

Final thoughts

MSRP, or sticker price, is the manufacturer's recommended price for retailers to sell a particular item. This price is a suggestion that retailers can reference when setting the final price for an item.

Choosing the correct pricing for your business is vital to sell well. Also, the price that will work best for you will depend on different factors, including the platform you sell.

If you want to sell wholesale products to retailers, you can sell on an online marketplace like Alibaba.com to reach a wide range of customers. Alibaba.com is also an excellent platform for conducting pricing analysis, promoting your store effectively, and selling to a global audience. Ready to have your free online storefront where anyone from anywhere can buy from you? Join Alibaba.com today!