Distribution is the process of getting your products to customers. By choosing the right distribution channel, you can reach the largest number of potential customers and make it easy and convenient for them to buy your products. A distribution channel such as a network of retailers or the Internet also gives your business a greater geographical reach, enabling you to expand beyond your local marketplace.
A direct sales channel is an effective method of distribution if you deal with a small number of customers or you only wish to sell to customers in your local area. If your company sells to other businesses, for example, you may have a small number of large accounts. Dealing with those accounts through a direct sales team enables you to build strong long-term relationships with your customers and protect the business against competition. You can also sell direct to local consumers by opening your own store, offering your own products in addition to lines from other suppliers.
Marketing your products through an existing regional or national network of retailers gives you the opportunity to reach a wider market. You can take advantage of the retailer’s existing infrastructure, rather than trying to set up and manage your own network. However, you must invest in sales and marketing to benefit from this channel. Your sales team must convince retailers to carry your products and ensure that they have sufficient stock to meet customer demand. You can also stimulate sales through the network by providing retailers with marketing support, such as advertisement templates or display material.
You can market your products to retailers indirectly by dealing with wholesalers. Wholesalers buy products in bulk from a manufacturer and distribute them to other resellers, such as retailers or industrial distributors. By dealing with wholesalers, you do not have to commit resources to selling your products to individual retailers; the wholesaler deals with retailers in addition to holding stock of your products.
By setting up a website, you can reach customers around the country, or anywhere in the world. Place details of your range on a product page, including photographs, product information, prices and delivery charges. You can incorporate ready-made e-commerce software in your website, enabling your customers to place orders and pay for products online. If you don’t offer online ordering, provide a telephone number customers can use to place orders and pay by debit or credit card.