Distribution channels are the means by which goods are distributed from the manufacturer to the end user. Logistics, or physical distribution management, is concerned with the planning, implementing, and control of physical flows of materials and final goods from points of origin to points of use to meet customer needs at a profit.
Essentially there are three channel links between the seller and buyer. The first link is the seller's headquarters organization, which is responsible for supervising the channel, and acts as part of the channel itself. Channels between countries represent the second link. They are responsible for getting products to overseas markets and payment in return. Finally, the third link is the channel structure (logistics) within countries, which distributes the products from their point of entry to the final consumer.
Distribution strategies within overseas markets are affected by various uncontrollable factors. First, wholesaling and retailing structure differs widely from one nation to the next. So, too, does the quality of service provided. Differences in the size and nature of retailers are even more pronounced. Retailers more closely reflect the economic conditions and culture of that country; many small retailers dominate most of these countries.
Physical distribution to overseas markets often requires special marketing planning. Many countries have inadequate docking facilities, limited highways, various railroad track gauges, too few vehicles, and too few warehouses. Managing product inventories requires consideration of the availability of suitable warehousing, as well as the costs of shipping in small quantities.
- The international marketing plan includes concern for:
- corporate level considerations—determining the resources to be allocated
- business level considerations, including:
- assessment of stakeholders
- the situation analysis
- functional level considerations that delineate the various activities that will achieve objectives
- The international marketing environment includes concern for:
- the social/cultural environment
- the political/legal environment
- the technological environment
- the economic environment
- the competitive environment