MGH Distributors

Distribution Channels What They Are, Types, & Examples

Have you chosen the distribution channels your company will use? If not, it is time. In essence, distribution channels dictate the path that goods take from the producer to the final customer. As a result, they have a direct impact on sales. There are different types, levels, and variations of distribution channels. Understanding each of these is required to get started. To help you with this effort, this article will go through the essential information about distribution channels that you need to know:

  • What three different sorts of distribution channels are there?
  • three distribution techniques,
  • 3 distribution strategies, 
  • three distribution tiers, 
  • three main middlemen
  • what constitutes them

What Are Distribution Channels?

The distribution channel is the path that products take from their initial manufacturing stage to being sold to clients. The main goal of these channels is to deliver goods to customers as soon as is practical in retail settings. It’s crucial to optimize distribution channels because they have a direct bearing on a business’s revenue.

Role of Distribution Channels in Business

Any business’s goal is to establish a distribution path or channel so that their goods or service can reach consumers and be sold. Typically, intermediaries like wholesalers, merchants, or brokers serve as the link between producers and the final consumer. The middlemen can be either businesses or regular people. The positioning of products in their particular marketplaces and their prices are influenced by the distribution networks.

Distributions should ideally be set up so that there are as few stops as possible between the product or service and the final consumer. A distribution channel needs to be productive and successful. It implies that the usage of transportation and other logistical requirements must be maximized while maintaining the lowest charges feasible.

Components of distribution system: –

The distribution system consists of two parts, as shown below.

Channels of distribution: – 

A procedure by which goods are moved from producers to final consumers is referred to as a channel of distribution. It is sometimes referred to as marketing channels. Members of the channels, such as merchants, agents, wholesalers, and retailers, act as middlemen in the distribution process and handle all aspects of marketing. Members of these channels, such as merchants, agents, wholesalers, and retailers, act as middlemen and attempt to carry out marketing-related tasks. Through matching and sorting processes, these middlemen facilitate the trade process and produce time, place, and possession utilities. Sorting helps match the supply to the demand of the consumer.

Physical distribution: – 

It oversees the physical handling of the goods and ensures the highest level of customer service. It seeks to provide delivery of the proper commodities during distribution activities that take place at night.

These tasks are carried out by every middleman in the supply chain, which ensures that the goods are accessible to customers who want and need them.

The Three Types of Distribution Channels

There are three techniques to guarantee that a product reaches its intended customer.

1. Direct Channels

When using direct channels, the business is solely in charge of providing goods to customers. Before arriving at their destination, goods do not pass via middlemen. Manufacturers have complete control over the distribution network under this paradigm. For instance, this is true of those that conduct catalog sales. This channel typically makes it impossible to have a large number of customers because the producer is solely responsible for delivering the products. Since the business does not have to pay commission to intermediaries, it is also possible to offer lower prices.

2. Indirect Channels

In indirect channels, intermediaries rather than the vendors provide the goods. Who are these middlemen? For instance, they might be brokers, distributors, retailers, or wholesalers. In this situation, manufacturers do not have complete control over the means of distribution. The advantage is that it allows for increased sales volume and a wider range of clients. However, the commissions given to middlemen are the reason why things are more expensive.

3. Hybrid Channels

Direct and indirect channels are combined to create hybrid channels. In this approach, the manufacturer collaborates with the middlemen but retains control over client interactions. Brands who advertise their products online but don’t actually send them to customers are one example.

Three Methods for Distribution Channels

There are three different distribution delivery systems.

They mostly concern who will be permitted to sell your goods.

1. Exclusive Distribution

With exclusive distribution, middlemen deliver the business’s goods to a limited number of retail locations. A salesperson usually performs this task. As a result, only specialized retail stores will be able to sell the products to customers. This is a terrific strategy for producers as well as the chosen retail establishments or chain stores, depending on the quality of the product.

2. Selective Distribution

The business permits sales to a particular set of middlemen who are in charge of selling goods to ultimate customers through selective distribution. The reputation of the intermediaries, who have a direct impact on the performance of the organization, is a crucial determinant in how successful this plan will be. In this scenario, the middleman takes on the role of the actual customer counselor by responding to inquiries and suggesting goods that are suitable for their requirements.

3. Intensive Distribution

In intensive distribution, the producer makes an effort to get their product into as many retail locations as they can. This approach involves all parties, including sales teams, commercial agents, and manufacturers themselves. They are in charge of distributing goods to retail locations. Manufacturers of inexpensive goods with high consumer frequency typically employ this distribution strategy.

Distribution Channel Levels

They may function on various levels in addition to the various types and approaches of distribution channels. Their levels signify the separation between the producer and the buyer.

Level 0 Distribution Channel

The manufacturer and the customer have a close and direct contact at this level. The costs of the consumer relationship are more expensive for the corporation.

Level 1 Distribution Channel

In level 1, the producer sells the products to the distributor, who may subsequently resell them to clients by way of retailers or wholesalers. The distributor keeps some but not all of the product’s rights. The distributor is also liable for the costs of sales and delivery to retail locations.

Level 2 Distribution Channel

Level 1 and level 2 remain comparable. The distinction is that in this instance, the distributor just distributes goods to merchants who then market them to customers.

Level 3 Distribution Channel

A conventional distribution strategy is level 3 channels. Distributor, retailer, and customer are all involved in the product’s path after leaving the producer. The partners split the expenditures associated with sales and marketing. This concept has the benefit of making it feasible to connect with more consumers. However, due to the overhead expenses incurred by all parties, items are more expensive.

The Nine Main Intermediaries in Distribution Channels

After learning more about the specifics of the organization, it’s time to identify the major middlemen who deliver goods to customers.

1. Retailers

Businesses frequently use retailers as intermediaries. Grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and bars are a few examples. Hence each of these business categories has access to all sales rights. Retailers typically impose higher prices on their products.

2. Wholesalers

Retailers buy products from wholesalers, who then resell them to them. Wholesalers sell to customers who will use their products to supply their enterprises. Even if there are a few outliers, including supermarkets that follow the wholesale model of sales, these middlemen frequently do not provide final consumers with tiny quantities. Lower pricing are the outcome of large volume sales.

3. Distributors

Distributors provide products for sale, storage, and technical support to retailers and wholesalers. They only operate in a few specific locations.

4. Agents

Agents are businesses that are hired and compensated with a commission for promoting a company’s goods to customers. In this case, relationships between firms and intermediaries are established over time.

5. Brokers

Additionally, brokers are employed to sell for a commission. Brokers and agents work for the same organization, but their connections are not long-term. For instance, this is true of insurance brokers and real estate agents.

6. The Internet

For those that sell software and technology, the internet acts as a distribution route. The user only needs to download the content in order to access it. E-commerce companies also use internet-based distribution intermediaries.

7. Sales Teams

Additionally, a company may have a dedicated sales force in charge of advertising its goods and services. If the company sells a variety of products, it can also be possible to organize numerous teams to promote various target markets and demographics.

8. Resellers

Resellers are businesses or people who purchase goods from producers or merchants in order to resell them to customers in retail stores.

9. Catalog

As the name suggests, catalog sales involve a salesman working closely with a business to promote its goods through a magazine. In this strategy, the commission is typically paid to salespeople as well. With companies like Avon and Brazilian Natura, this kind of sales is typical in the beauty industry.

Reverse Distribution Channel

You are now aware of the many product delivery types and techniques. But what occurs when customers need to send products back to the manufacturers?

If consumers receive faulty goods or need to exchange online-purchased clothing or footwear that doesn’t fit, they must rely on reverse distribution.

In this situation, the consumer is in charge of returning the goods and must obtain instructions from the manufacturer in order to do so. Consumers typically discover information on returns on the product’s website.

How to Define Distribution Channels for Your Product

You are now aware of the many categories of intermediaries and distribution networks. All of this, however, is useless if you don’t know how to choose the right channel for your business. Here are the following seven crucial recommendations to aid in your choice.

1. Benchmarking

To start, you should investigate the best practices that your rivals use. Benchmarking is the term for this type of mapping. Discovering your competitors’ distribution strategies will help you choose a comparable strategy for your own business.

2. Project Review

You have therefore sketched out industry best practices and found potential solutions for your company.


Reviewing the project or channel you made is the next step. Hence examine any faults, consider any opportunities for process improvement, and customize the project to the demands and peculiarities of the sales you make.

3. Costs and Benefits

The price of a distribution channel is a significant consideration when discussing it. Search for the optimal cost-benefit ratio at all times. It is not sufficient to have a rough notion of the costs to accomplish this. You need to keep track of every expense and decide whether the advantages of the channel you choose are worthwhile.

4. Company’s Daily Routine

The business’ routine is another important consideration. What tasks, procedures, and activities are carried out in your company? So all of these particulars must be in line with the distribution route. If not, you risk having logistical issues that cause product delays and harm your reputation with customers.

5. Market Potential

You should also take the market potential of intermediaries into account before choosing a channel. After all, they will also be in charge of the sales outcomes unless you decide to employ direct methods. Hence only after considering market participation, reputation, and performance of intermediaries can you attempt to choose the best course of action.

6. Logistics

Think of logistical issues including how things will be transported.

  • Is there security for the items when they are being transported or stored?
  • Where will the items be kept?
  • How long, on average, will delivery take?

To prevent issues with getting items to sales outlets, logistics must be taken into account at all levels.

7. Location

Last but not least, think about where the intermediaries—whether they be distributors, wholesalers, retailers, or resellers—are located. After all, if you cater to a particular segment of the market, you can market your product in the area where your target customer is.

Managing Distribution Channels

How should the distribution channels for your business be managed? Usually, marketing departments are in charge of this. Hence monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) metrics for distribution operations is crucial to doing this. Analyze sales metrics, such as the effectiveness of every channel the organization employs. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys as well, particularly when customers aren’t happy with the range and accessibility of the products or when sales aren’t meeting expectations.

Examples of Distribution Channels

Let’s learn about two fantastic company examples before we wrap up this reading.

Coca-Cola’s Distribution Channels

The biggest soft drink producer in the world uses franchisers, distributors, and retailers as part of its many sales channels. For instance, distributors help soft drinks reach various shops. This covers establishments that sell directly to customers, such as pubs, restaurants, and supermarkets.

Natura’s Distribution Channels

The cosmetics company Natura primarily distributes through catalogs, though there are now also sales facilities. Hence a network of advisors for the business uses periodicals to market its items to consumers.

Distribution Channels Conclusion

Are you prepared to plan and oversee your company’s distribution channels? From benchmarking to sales outlet analysis, take the actions I outlined in this post. Take each channel’s cost-benefit ratio into consideration. And whatever decision you make, keep an eye on metrics and indications. Hence this study enables you to continuously optimize the distribution route by allowing you to assess its effectiveness. So we hope that Myanmar Golden Heart is successful in providing you with the relevant information about the distribution channels.

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