Distribution channels move products and services from businesses to consumers and to other businesses. Also known as marketing channels, channels of distribution consist of a set of interdependent organization such as wholesalers, retailers, and sales agents involved in making a product or service available for use or consumption. Distribution channels are just one component of the overall concept of distribution networks, which are the real, tangible systems of interconnected sources and destinations through which products pass on their way to final consumers. As Howard J. Weiss and Mark E. Gershon noted in Production and Operations Management, a basic distribution network consists of two parts: 1) a set of locations that store, ship, or receive materials (such as factories, warehouses, retail outlets); and 2) a set of routes (land, sea, air, satellite, cable, Internet) that connect these locations. Distribution networks may be classified as either simple or complex. A simple distribution network is one that consists of only a single source of supply, a single source of demand, or both, along with fixed transportation routes connecting that source with other parts of the network. In a simple distribution network, the major decisions for managers to make include when and how much to order and ship, based on internal purchasing and inventory considerations.
In short, distribution describes all the logistics involved in delivering a company's products or services to the right place, at the right time, for the lowest cost. In the unending efforts to realize these goals, the channels of distribution selected by a business play a vital role in this process. Well-chosen channels constitute a significant competitive advantage, while poorly conceived or chosen channels can doom even a superior product or service to failure in the market.
MULTIPLE CHANNELS OF DISTRIBUTION
For many products and services, their...