Physical distribution is concerned with the physical movement of the goods from the producer to the consumer. It is an important part of marketing activity and a major component of marketing mix. It includes all those activities which help in efficient movement of goods from producer to consumer, such as transportation, warehousing, material handling, inventory control, order processing, market forecasting, packaging, plant and warehouse location and customer service.
Philip Kotler has defined physical distribution as, “Physical distribution involves planning, implementing and controlling the physical flow of materials and final goods from the point of origin of use to meet consumer needs at a profit.”
According to William J. Stanton, “Physical distribution involves the management of physical flow of products and establishment and operation of flow systems.”
Physical distribution is thus, management of the physical flow of products and management and operation of the flow system. It is a process of managing the movement of the goods.
Objectives of Physical Distribution:
Physical distribution has two broad objectives viz. consumer satisfaction and profit maximisation. Apart from these, there are other objectives too. A satisfied consumer is the biggest asset that a company has. A firm can provide satisfaction to consumers by making available right quantity of right goods at right place and time, at lowest costs. Prompt and dependable distribution enhances consumer satisfaction.
At the same time, by offering better service at lower price of the product, the firm can attract additional consumers and make more profits. This can be done by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of physical distribution activities, firm can bring in economy which will have an effect on profit margin i.e. by lowering the physical distribution costs, profit position can be improved.
Its importance can be judged from following points:
(A) Creating Time and Place Utility:
Physical distribution activities help in creating time and place utility. This is done through transportation and warehousing. Transportation system creates place utility as it makes available the goods at the right place where they are required. Warehousing creates time utility by storing the goods and releasing them when they are required.
(B) Helps in Reducing Distribution Cost:
Physical distribution cost account for a major part of the price of the product. If these costs are handled systematically, decrease in costs of product can be there. Proper and systematic planning of transportation schedules and routes, warehousing location and operation, material handling, order processing, etc. can easily bring in cost economies.
(C) Helps in Stabilisation of Price:
Physical distribution helps in maintaining stable prices. Even customers expect price stability over a period of time. Proper use of transportation and warehousing facilities can help in matching demand with supply and thus ensure stabilisation of price.
(D) Improved Consumer Services:
Consumer service in physical distribution means making products in right quantity available at right time and right place i.e. place where customer needs.