What is Distribution Management? Channels, Scope, Challenges, Benefits of Establishing Advanced Distribution Management System for SMBs and Enterprises in 2022

Distribution management has been a persistent issue for businesses. Raw resources could arrive earlier than expected and perish before being used. Alternatively, finished items could arrive too late, giving a competitor the chance to capture most of the market.

The need for efficient distribution has prompted supply chain and inventory management to embrace sub-discipline practices like just-in-time inventory. In conclusion, efficient distribution calls for various moving parts and methods, demanding a solid distribution management strategy supported by real-time data.
In this post, we’ll go through the many methods for regulating the delivery of raw materials for production and finished goods to customers. The challenges of setting up a distribution system and the benefits of having a highly successful distribution management system are also covered in this essay.

What is Distribution Management?

The effective movement of commodities from the origin to the site of consumption is planned, carried out, and controlled by distribution management, a strategic business process, to satisfy customer needs. It is the process of planning and managing how goods and services are delivered to customers. It covers both the distribution of tangible objects like food and clothing as well as the distribution of digital goods like books and software.

Distribution management refers to arranging the movement of commodities from a supplier to a manufacturer, then to a wholesaler or retailer, and finally to an end user. This complex procedure includes managing vendors for raw materials, packaging, warehousing, inventory, the supply chain, distribution logistics, and even blockchain.

A distribution management strategy is necessary for any business that sells products or services to guarantee that the appropriate products are delivered to the right customers at the right time.

Distribution managers choose which goods or services to distribute and how to do so during the distribution planning step of the distribution management process. Then, following the development of distribution strategies and plans, they put these plans into action by utilising distribution networks.

Distribution Management Channels

A key aspect of supply chain management is controlling the physical distribution of inventory.

However, it’s crucial to understand the various routes of distribution as well as how inventory flows throughout the supply chain to comprehend distribution logistics.

Wholesale Distribution

Wholesalers can sell to producers, distributors, or retailers and supply either finished products or raw materials in quantity at a reasonable cost.

Wholesalers frequently handle the distribution of the raw ingredients needed to create a finished good. For instance, fabric wholesalers give clothes manufacturers the supplies they need to make finished clothing.

Retail Distribution

The choice to deal directly with a wholesaler, manufacturer, or supplier is available to retailers for their retail distribution businesses. Major retailers frequently distribute goods from several suppliers through various sales channels to reach their target customers.

For instance, Walmart and Amazon let various brands that provide a range of products, which are then sold online or at their physical stores.

Supplier 

Suppliers operate as the intermediary between the manufacturer and the wholesaler or retailer. For example, when manufacturers wish to increase their regional distribution, they authorise distributors (who know the local market) to sell the items.

Distributors frequently provide storage and logistical support in their particular area. For instance, automakers give the newest vehicle models to nationwide dealerships so consumers can buy them conveniently.

eCommerce or Online Distribution

Modern direct-to-consumer (DTC) fulfilment brands, which send goods directly to customers, have been made possible by eCommerce (often at their homes). Inventory is ordered by online merchants and is kept in an e-commerce warehouse through collaboration with manufacturers and suppliers.

Items are selected, packed, and shipped straight from the company once inventory has been received and online orders have been placed. eCommerce fulfilment has eliminated the middleman in the supply chain, resulting in quicker deliveries, more reasonable costs, and improved customer service.

WareIQ – Amazon-prime Like Logistics for Modern Brands in India

WareIQ, an eCommerce fulfillment company, empowers online brands with a superior-tech platform to compete with Amazon like service levels by bringing their average delivery timelines from 5-10 days to 1-2 days.

"With WareIQ, UTH is able to consolidate common inventory for all platforms and get much closer to the customer through access to WareIQ’s strong nationwide network of fulfilment centres, and last mile & hyper-local courier partners. We are excited about being able to offer same day delivery in several pin codes due to WareIQ."
- Samit Mehta, Founder, UTH Beverages

Scope of Distribution in Supply Chain Management 

Distribution management oversees a company’s whole supply chain, including packaging, inventory, warehousing, and logistics, from manufacturers to retailers to vendors and suppliers. Therefore, a distribution management strategy must be implemented for a business to be profitable and endure.

A company’s capacity to draw customers and make money depends on having an efficient distribution management system. Effective distribution management is necessary for managing the entire supply chain process. The more resources a company needs, the more crucial it is to automate distribution management.

Moving items from point A to point B is not as comprehensive as the distribution management system. Additionally, it involves acquiring and providing information that can be used to determine significant industry growth and competitive possibilities. Most cutting-edge companies use their distribution channels to learn about the market, which is essential for assessing their supply chain effectiveness and competitive position.

Commercial distribution (often referred to as sales distribution) and physical distribution are different types of distribution (also known as logistics).

Among the tasks performed in distribution are customer service, shipping and warehousing, inventory control, operations of private transportation fleets, packaging, receiving, and material handling.

The goal is to supply all raw materials, components, and partially finished goods on schedule. Therefore, the overall channel plan should sync with the supply chain and distribution strategy.

How Does the Distribution Management Work in eCommerce Industry?

Monitoring the movement of goods along the supply chain involves several moving pieces. Additionally, each action taken during distribution management is essential.

Now that you know the key stakeholders involved in moving eCommerce inventory from one stage to the next, let’s go specific about the activities during the process.

Receiving Inventory

Ecommerce inventory is unloaded, processed, and stored when it gets to a warehouse or fulfilment facility.

A competent inventory receiving procedure commonly referred to as “warehouse receiving,” is crucial because it prepares your supply chain for efficient, affordable inventory management and fulfilment later in the fulfilment process.

It is vital to cross-check inventory counts at this time to make sure that what the manufacturer delivered matches what was purchased.

Without an appropriate inventory-receiving process, you risk having inaccurate inventory counts or missing stock, which can affect profit margins and inventory reporting.

Warehouse Management

After receiving the inventory, it must be watched carefully to ensure enough of it to meet demand.

Goods tracking, storing and supervising a warehouse staff on how to best monitor inventory throughout the warehouse are all parts of warehouse management.

Implementing a warehouse management system (WMS), a piece of software created expressly to streamline warehouse operations, including warehouse inventory management, has become mainstream with the growth of digital warehousing. This lessens human labour and enables warehouse workers to prioritise speed without sacrificing accuracy.

Orders Packaging 

Once all of the items for a single order have been taken from the shelves, packing gets started.

It takes more work than you may imagine during the packaging of goods. To ensure they arrive at their destination intact and in the most economical way possible, the proper goods must be packed in the correct size box with suitable materials.

Packing should always keep order inside the least number of boxes (avoiding split shipments) and use the appropriate type(s) of packing material(s) for each product to save shipping costs and ensure order correctness.

Shipping

The packed orders are shipped to their final locations in this last phase. Although the end user is frequently the target audience for direct-to-consumer (DTC) firms, some also provide B2B eCommerce services. Therefore, some orders (typically larger packages including numerous units) are shipped to a different business in that situation.

Because it significantly affects consumer happiness, eCommerce shipping is essential in the distribution process. In addition, 43% of online customers consider quick and dependable delivery to be the most crucial aspect of their online buying experience.

Having a sound shipping plan guarantees that you can provide your clients with shipping alternatives that are both competitive and economical.

There are various approaches to delivery management and the effectiveness of your order shipping, including:

  • Storing goods in many places to enable inexpensive two-day shipping
  • Collaborating with a variety of large and small local parcel carriers
  • Free shipping with a minimum threshold above your average order value is available.

Challenges & Complications Faced in Distribution Management System

When contingency plans are included in supply chain planning and designing, they can be deemed successful in dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

Distribution can be affected at any time by changes in the market for products and buyers and by economic and environmental problems.

Below is an overview of typical distribution management issues and suggestions for improving readiness for the unexpected.

Transportation Issues

In India, shipping cargo by road is the primary means of transportation. Therefore, the majority of cargo travels by road. Only 32% of goods are transported by rail due to congested rail networks and expensive rail charges. Although most of the supply chain is transported by road, there are still some snags. Due to bad road conditions, numerous checks, and traffic, road transit is highly inefficient.

Lack of Skilled Workers

There is an alarming scarcity of trained labour and specialised professionals in the distribution industry. Modern technology has created a pressing need for labourers who are technically adept. However, the workers lack the necessary skill set to make the operations more efficient and are overworked and undertrained. Businesses also compromise on their logistics workers’ hiring, remuneration, and training to save money. These businesses thus struggle with significant employee turnover, rising training expenses, and underperforming human resources.

Shortages In The Supply Chain

Your supply chain may experience severe disruptions due to manufacturing delays or a shortage of raw materials. Partnering with various suppliers or production options is the most effective strategy to address supply chain shortages or delays.

Ensure that you won’t be in trouble or left without a supply if your main provider cannot fulfil it due to shortages, closures, or trade restrictions.

Unexpected Transport Disruptions 

Due to the high likelihood of unforeseen circumstances, India’s varied geography, transit routes, and weather patterns make the transportation sector unreliable. As a result, delays are a common problem for the transportation business, even when packaging and drops are completed on time. Mainly because India is a vast nation with various terrains and climates. Additionally, the country’s interior and rural areas have horrible roads, and the Hills are prone to landslides and accidents.

The difficulties are made worse by heavy traffic, many checkpoints, and toll booths. This results in significant time and financial losses during distribution management for logistics companies. In other words, unanticipated delays cannot be eliminated even after accounting for additional delays.

Inaccurate Demand Forecasts

Distributors must ensure that all business activities and resources perfectly align with customer demand. Working off sales estimates or demand projections is a poor replacement for an accurate, current, and comprehensive picture of demand. The distributors’ most crucial initiative is giving distribution management, and supply chain partners access to information that enables quick, strategic decisions. In addition, distributors must be versatile enough to scale their businesses to meet demand.

Coordination Among Suppliers And Customers

In the distribution management industry, success is based on velocity or speed. A significant contributor to delays and a frequent source of errors include poorly interconnected systems and reliance on manually processed data that is already existent in one system but inaccessible to others. Distributors must ensure that suppliers view them as reliable business partners and responsive to clients. Supplier and customer relationships may indeed be nurtured by distributors that make performing business simple and rewarding. In addition, distributors who have seamless system integration with their suppliers’ systems benefit financially.

Benefits of Advanced Distribution Management System for SMBs and Enterprises

Managing your distributors through providing products, collecting money, and handling refunds seem to be the definition of distribution management. However, given the complexity of modern operations and technology advancements, there is much more than these fundamental activities. Firms must have a reliable distributor management system (DMS) to leverage their supply chain resources.

Some of the essential advantages of a successful distribution management system have been covered in this article.

Optimal Utilization Of The Available Resources

The most significant benefit of a robust distribution management system is that it promotes optimal resource utilisation. It is beyond dispute that effective order management, delivery, returns, and payment collection processes, supported by solid reporting features, play a critical role in meeting sales targets and attaining desired growth.

Additionally, a sound distributor management system makes operations quick and easy, saving time. For instance, since all communication is digital and instantaneous, distributors can set up automatic ordering when a stock level is reached, and manufacturers can quickly fulfil new orders. It increases order accuracy and eliminates numerous manual, labour-intensive operations.

Efficient Order Management

An advanced distribution management system integrates a lot of automated procedures and communication. Errors caused by humans are decreased as a result. Accurate order management benefits firms with broad networks that handle hundreds of orders daily.

Additionally, this advantage helps all parties involved, including manufacturers, dealers, and retailers. They don’t have to be concerned about things like placing orders late or early, getting deliveries late, or losing sales.

Synchronised Pricing and Promotions

Many organisations are still struggling with this. However, this crucial feature has been skillfully integrated into distribution management systems like WareIQ. One must utilize software like that of WareIQ to align promotions and pricing with your supply chain network effectively.

A comprehensive distributor management system enables producers to regularly gather performance information on product lines, distributors, and marketplaces. Businesses can design unique promotions, pricing, and offers using this information. They can also set attainable and realistic goals to inspire and promote improved performance from sales teams and dealers.

Hassle-free Delivery and Returns Management

The supply chain process’s most crucial stage is product delivery. Therefore, the sales department, warehouse, distributors, and retailers inevitably work in constant collaboration. These needs are intended to be satisfied by a distributor management system, which includes complex features that encourage scheduled execution of delivery and return requests.

In the end, you deal with fewer stock concerns and experience more client loyalty and satisfaction.

Avoid the Additional Cost

As was said in the previous point, you may easily cut your company’s additional costs by utilising a sound distribution management system. For example, as your company expands, you must pay a lot to hire and keep additional employees. By automating the process and optimising your headcounts, good DMS technology helps you avoid paying that expense.

A distribution management system can save a company a sizable chunk of money by removing the need to hire additional people to keep track of sales and inventory. This system will also lessen individuals’ effort to precisely forecast demand and plan business activities, reducing headcount; otherwise, several human resources would be needed to manage.

Satisfy Client Requirements

To constantly exceed consumer expectations, distribution management is essential.

With distribution management systems, getting the products from the manufacturer to the final consumer will never be a missed opportunity. Technology will ensure that orders are consistently and affordably delivered fast and reliably.

The availability of SKUs for each sales channel and at the time the customer demands them is also ensured by this policy. Moreover, because it keeps the cost of order fulfilment low, the merchant may pass the savings to its customers.

Faster Delivery 

41% of customers are willing to pay an additional fee for same-day delivery, while 24% of customers stated they would pay more to have products delivered within a one- or two-hour window.

If a brand offers more delivery alternatives than its rivals, this attracts more consumers, and most of them will end up closing the deal with your brand.

You may provide your clients with better shipping incentives with a solid distribution strategy.

Keeping inventory close to your customers, for instance, can lower shipping costs while speeding up delivery times. In addition, with a minimum cart value, you can offer your consumers benefits like free delivery or 2-day shipping.

Conclusion

A corporation utilises a distribution management strategy to establish how its items will be distributed to customers. Distribution management strategies can be divided into three categories: bulk, selective, and exclusive.

A corporation should base its distribution management strategy decision on the products it sells, and its business objectives.

An effective distribution management system can lower distribution costs and improve customer service, among other benefits. However, it can have several drawbacks, such as being challenging to manage and implement.

How WareIQ’s Distribution Management System Expands Your Brand’s Reach?

The eCommerce distribution process is improved by WareIQ’s warehousing and distribution network, including inward inventory processing, smart inventory placement, real-time inventory tracking, quick fulfilment, and automatic shipment.

distribution management_WareIQ services

Partnering with WareIQ gives you access to a nationwide fulfilment network, cutting-edge technology, and first-rate customer support to help you enhance your logistics processes and optimise your supply chain. For example, the following supply chain projects can all be made better with WareIQ’s assistance:

  • Real-time inventory monitoring across the supply chain.
  • Choosing the best product allotment strategy to improve distribution.
  • Offering discounted shipping rates with reputable national and local carriers.
  • Extending the reach of your consumer base with a vast fulfilment network.
  • Enhancing operations with access to cutting-edge data and reporting analytics tools.

Distribution Management FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)