Merchants function as professional traders, dealing in commodities that they do not produce themselves.
Merchants can be categorised into two types:
- A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant. Some wholesale merchants only organise the movement of goods rather than move the goods themselves.
- A retail merchant sells commodities to consumers (including businesses), commonly known as retailers. A shopowner is a retail merchant.
A merchant class characterises many pre-modern societies. Its status can range from high (even achieving titles like that of merchant prince or nabob) to low (note the soiling capabilities of "mere" trade).