A retailer or manufacturer who is authorized to sell directly to the consumer and in order to become an authorized retailer you will need to be appointed by the manufacturer or distributor.
An example of an authorized retailer is someone who will sell a brand of mobile phones in their store. If you wish to retail Nokia phones, you will be appointed by Nokia to do so and you will also be given the right to issue genuine Nokia warranties to the customer. Although you may be able to locate a non-authorized retailer who will sell you a product at a cut-price you will have no after sales service or warranty for the product your purchase.
In this day and age of ecommerce the authorized retailer has become less common, but some industries are still dominated by authorized retailers. The auto industry is one, and the above mentioned mobile phone industry is another. One of the problems people encounter these days with authorized retailers is that service levels and training have slipped, and that it is often better to go to a factory owned store.
When working with authorized retailers you may also find differences in return policies, and you can never be sure what all the fine print is in that contract you’re signing, unless you’re willing to take the time necessary to read all the small print. The same is somewhat true for factory owned stores, but you know there have been millions of people who’ve already signed the factory contract, and there’s nothing too heinous to be found. And factory stores are always so easy about accepting returns, as long as it’s within their stated time-frame.
One benefit you might find with an authorized retailer is in price. A small independent retailer is going to be far more likely to offer a discount to move inventory when compared with the factory store – who rarely has any incentive to offer a discount.