In today’s fast paced world, distribution by a company can be an enormous competitive advantage to the company. Most companies target their customers far and wide. Because of the rising costs, companies are trying to expand in various markets so that they have a higher turnover and hence a higher margin.
To reach far and wide, you need the right distribution strategies in place. You cannot market a product and then not deliver the product to the end customer. This is a sheer loss of money as you waste money on your marketing and the opportunity loss is also huge. Not to mention, the loss to the brand when the customer wants to purchase the product but cannot find it.
Thus, there is a lot of importance given to making proper distribution strategies for a company. This is also the reason why Place (Which majorly consists of distribution) is one of the major 4P’s of the marketing mix. Place is considered in case of products as well as services.
How to get the product from the manufacturing point to the end customer.
How to control costs and save time while executing the distribution strategy
How to build a competitive advantage through distribution
On a macro level, there are two types of distribution.
1) Indirect distribution
Indirect distribution is when the product reaches the end customer through numerous channels in between. For example – The product goes from manufacturer to C&F, then to the distributor, then to the retailer and finally to the customer. Thus the chain is long.
2) Direct distribution
Direct distribution is when the company either directly sends the product to end customer or when the channel length is very less. A company selling on an e commerce portal or selling through modern retail is the form of Direct distribution.
Further more, distribution strategies are also decided based on the level of penetration that the company wants to achieve. This level of penetration is decided again by the remaining 3 P’s of the marketing mix – Product, price and promotions. However, based on the level of penetration, the distribution strategies vary as follows.
3) Intensive distribution
When the company is having a mass marketing product, then it uses intensive distribution. Intensive distribution tries to cover as much of the market as it can. Typical FMCG and consumer durable products are best example of intensive distribution strategy. You can read this detailed article on Intensive Distribution.
4) Selective distribution
A company like Armani, Zara or any other such branded company will have selective distribution. These companies are likely to have only limited outlets. For example – In an urban city, Armani might have 2-3 outlets at the maximum whereas Zara might have 4-5. You can read this detailed article on Selective Distribution.
5) Exclusive distribution
If Zara has 4-5 outlets in a city, how many outlets would a company like Lamborghini have? Probably one in a region of 5-7 cities. That’s exclusive distribution for you. If a company wants to give a big region to one single distributor then it is known as exclusive distribution strategy. In some cases, a distributor might be appointed for a complete country. There would be no one other then that distributor operating in that company. You can read this detailed article on Exclusive Distribution
Overall, distribution strategies depend a lot on the various products which the companies might have. A single company might have multiple product line and lengths, each with its own distribution strategy.
Some products, which are premium, might need selective distribution whereas others which are mass products, may need intensive distribution. The strategies for both types will be different. So, in the end, the distribution of a company is dynamic in nature and it contributes a lot to the competitive advantage of the company.
Also read – 7 steps to increase your distribution network.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on Distribution strategies.