You didn’t say what type of products you were trying to purchase...
In full disclosure, I work for such a “middleman” - LabNetwork (part of WuXi). We are an eCommerce site for the purchase of chemicals, from >1,000 (maybe >1,500) Asian (Chinese) Suppliers, but we have over 2,000 Suppliers, with many outside Asia too.
Our customers have described us as the “Amazon of Chemistry” - think about that. You go on Amazon, do a search, and find the product(s) you want. You may find the same or similar products from multiple Suppliers, in multiple locations, with different pricing and shipping conditions, and you pick the one that best suits your needs. Of course you have now identified the Supplier, and you can bypass Amazon and go direct if you wish, but you maybe choose to purchase through Amazon because of convenience. I would not use a middleman that is not this transparent.
Also think about aftercare…what if the product you purchase (directly) is not suitable for any reason? Poor quality, arrived too late, or arrived damaged, etc, how do you handle such a situation? Of course the vast majority of Suppliers will be OK to deal with directly, but sometimes it’s good to have a middleman fight on your behalf.
Also, Trivago, Expedia, Kayak, and many other , are all providing the same broad search, price comparison, and eCommerce service, in many cases at the same price as if you went direct, as they get a commission on every order from the originating airline/hotel etc. Like Amazon, these are also middleman websites that millions use every day.
LabNetwork is basically the same, but we offer access to Suppliers that you may not be able to use directly, due to a language barrier, logistical hurdles, etc. Also, due to the nature of our business, we can enable you to purchase, say, 10 compounds, from 10 different Suppliers with 1 order, 1 PO, 1 shipment (if we consolidate), and 1 invoice. Amazon and others also provide a similar multi-product “shopping cart” service.
I don’t want this to be a sales pitch; I’m just saying that sometimes the middle man provides a service that cannot be matched by going direct. And that service comes at a cost…it’s up to you if that cost is worth paying.