Distribution is amongst the four other known aspects of marketing. A distribution business is the middleman between the manufacturer and the retailer or (usually) in commercial or industrial, the business customer. After being manufactured by a supplier/factory, a product is typically stored in the distribution company’s warehouse. The product is thereafter, sold to retailers or customers. The rest of the other three parts of the marketing mix are product management, pricing and promotion respectively.
A number of alternative ‘channels’ of distribution may be available:
• Selling direct
• Mail order (including internet, and telephone sales)
• Agent (who acts on behalf of the producer)
Distribution channels may not be restricted to physical products. They may be just as important to move a service from the producer to the consumer, in certain sectors: since both of the channels; direct and indirect may be used. Hotels, for example may sell their services (typically rooms) direct of through travel agents, tour operators, air lines, tourist boards, centralized reservations systems etc.
Some innovations in the distribution of services are also seen. For example, a noticeable increase has been seen in franchising and in the rental services – the latter offering anything from Tvz to DIY tools. An evidence of services integration is there, with all the services linking together, particularly in the stream of travel and tourism, for example the links now exist between airlines, hotels and car rental services.
In addition, a significant increase in retail outlets for the service sector is also been seen where the traditional grocers and greengrocers from the high streets are crowded by the outlets such as estate agencies and building society offices, for example.A product passes down to the next organization through several chains of intermediaries, where each passes the product down, before the product reaches to the consumer. This process is termed exotically as ‘channel’. Each of the elements present in the chains, have got their own specific concise needs which the producer has to keep in account.
The Big Box Reseller – These are the middle persons who rather are more interested in moving the bulk volume instead of offering any special services.
Master distributor – is a type of distributor who purchases enough supplies for the small scale dealers.
Broker – This person is the super middleman who is responsible in negotiating partnerships, deals and the sales between the companies. They normally act like independent sales forces.
Independent Representatives – These refer to the companies who are responsible in driving sales forces to give the manufacturers, local market gain.
Dealer – A person, who is basically a reseller and is given authority by the vendors and gives customer support as well, is a dealer.
Hybrid Channel – This is a channel that diverges from the traditional one, as it is the amalgamation of sundry other functions related to installation, fulfillment, repair etc.
Jobber – Jobber is a person who is a wholesaler basically, but is providing limited services too like financing, delivery, shelving etc.