In a partner ecosystem, a distributor is a business that serves as an intermediary between vendors and resellers in a channel partnership. These sellers can include value-added resellers and system integrators. Distributors are in charge of procurement and payment between vendors and resellers.
Distributors are especially important for vendors who need support running their channel program, whether because they're new to the industry or because they have a very high volume of sales to manage. Aside from payment and procurement, distributors can also take on further roles in educating resellers on products, providing presale training or demos, or assisting with contract negotiations and marketing.
Example: Fireforce had a distributor to bring their software to resellers, educate them on its use, and accept payment on behalf of them. This helped Fireforce get their product to more resellers since the distributor could handle the direct management of the reselling process.