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Distribution is a controllable and unavoidable variable in the mix. No sale is possible without the establishment of a distribution channel, however short it may be. The company must bring its product to the end user once it has found a product/market couple. This may require the use of intermediaries, making the distribution variable difficult to control.

The distribution designates all the commercial activities which allow to place a product in a favorable situation in front of the customers. It encompasses all the stages through which a product passes from its production to its availability to the end user. In concrete terms, it consists of offering a product in the right place, at the right time, in sufficient quantity, and with all the services required to sell, consume and maintain it. The notion of distribution also covers the management of product flows from the place where they are produced to the place where they are used. A distinction is made between retail and wholesale distribution. However, distribution can also fulfill other functions: spatial and commercial.

Distribution choices are crucial for a company because the commitments they entail are usually long term. It is therefore important to take the necessary precautions to establish the right distribution policy. This includes identifying the right distribution network, as well as the type of strategy best suited to the company’s objectives. Setting up a distribution network is a time-consuming and costly process. Anticipation is therefore essential in such an approach.