Imagine you walk into your neighborhood hardware store – let’s call it Joe’s Hardware and Lumber. Joe’s has been around for decades – family owned, involved in local charity, and a brand that has a strong local reputation. You’ve got a remodel project going on and you’re in need of a new hammer. In the hammer section, you see giant banners that say “these hammers brought to you by Home Depot”, on the hammers themselves, it says “powered by Home Depot”, on the end cap of the aisle there’s a sign that says “come see these same hammers and even more hammers at Home Depot”
In a haze of brand confusion, you end up at Home Depot shopping for hammers.
Here’s the thing: Home Depot (in this alternate reality) doesn’t actually sell hammers, they just host them for display. The upside though, is they have a LOT of options…so you pick out the best hammer you could find, and a lovely employee connects you right back to the hardware store you stumbled out of before. For a hefty price to Joe’s Hardware, of course.
In this ridiculous scenario (in which I say the word “hammers” a LOT), I have just described what 3rd party listing sites have been “helping” dealers with for 15 years. Stealing dealers traffic and selling them back to them at a profit. It’s a brilliant business model that you just don’t see anywhere else in the modern retail landscape.