Distribution Management: Introduction

Distribution management refers to the process of overseeing the movement of goods from supplier or manufacturer to point of sale. It is an overarching term that refers to numerous activities and processes such as packaging, inventory, warehousing, supply chain, and logistics.

Distribution management is an important part of the business cycle for distributors and wholesalers. The profit margins of businesses depend on how quickly they can turnover their goods. The more they sell, the more they earn, which means a better future for the business. Having a successful distribution management system is also important for businesses to remain competitive and to keep customers satisfied.

Distribution management is critical to a company’s financial success and corporate longevity. Executing it successfully requires effective management of the entire distribution process. The larger a corporation, or the greater the number of supply points a company has, the more it will need to rely on automation to effectively manage the distribution process.

Modern distribution management encompasses more than just moving products from point A to point B. It also involves gathering and sharing relevant information that can be used to identify key opportunities for growth and competitiveness in the market. Most progressive companies now use their distribution forces to obtain market intelligence which are vital in assessing their competitive position.

There are basically two types of distribution: commercial distribution—commonly known as sales distribution—and physical distribution—better known as logistics. Distribution involves diverse functions such as customer service, shipping, warehousing, inventory control, private trucking-fleet operations, packaging, receiving, materials handling, along with plant, warehouse, store location planning, and the integration of information.

The goal is to achieve ultimate efficiency in delivering raw materials and parts, both partially and completely finished products to the right place and time in the proper condition. Physical distribution planning should align with overall channel strategy.

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Advantages of a Distribution Management Strategy

(i) Aside from keeping profits up, there are many reasons a company may want to use a distribution management strategy. First, it keeps things organized. If there was no proper management system in place, retailers would be forced to hold stock in their own locations—a bad idea, especially if the seller lacks proper storage space.

(ii) A distribution management system also makes things easier for the consumer. It allows them to visit one location for a variety of different products. If the system didn’t exist, consumers would have to visit multiple locations just to get what they need.

(iii) Putting a proper distribution management system in place also alleviates any potential for errors in delivery, as well as the times products need to be delivered.

Effective distribution management involves selling your product while assuring sufficient stocks in channels while managing promotions in those channels and their varying requirements. It also involves making sure a supply chain is efficient enough that distribution costs are low enough to allow a product to be sold at the right price, thus supporting your marketing strategy and maximizing profit.

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