Distribution Channel Types

What are direct distribution channels? A direct distribution channel is simply a network of intermediaries or companies through which a product or service passes before it reaches either the customer directly or the final buyer. Direct distribution channels can consist of wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and the internet. Direct distribution can be a very simple process if a distributor is just passing products out the window of their building. It can also be a complex process if there are multiple distribution channels involved.

For example, food manufacturers may distribute their products directly to the store shelves of supermarkets. This direct distribution channel can be very cost effective, as the manufacturer does not have to hire employees to monitor the supply and demand of the items that they are selling. Many food manufacturers nowadays have even begun to buy Instagram followers for content that is marketing their products directly to the end-consumer. This is a marketing strategy that can help them reach a wider audience. 

Another benefit of direct channels is the fact that there is no need for warehousing. The manufacturer does not have to rent storage space for the items that they make. Another advantage of direct distribution channels is that the manufacturer can keep complete control over the distribution process itself.

When is Direct Distribution Best?

Direct distribution channels work best when a manufacturer is able to control all of the variables. For instance, wholesalers must know the inventory levels and the shipping times of their products before they will make a sale. Retailers have the same problems; they must know what items are in-stock and when they will be arriving on store shelves. Distributors can bridge any gap in the supply chain by establishing a direct connection with the wholesaler so that they do not have to wait on the manufacturer.

Indirect channels involve both the manufacturer and the consumer. One example of an indirect distribution channel is the retail outlet. When a consumer buys a certain item from a manufacturer, the manufacturer sells directly to the retailer who then sells it to the end user. Direct distribution channels include wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers. Indirect channels include distribution channels such as wholesaling and drop shipping which have no connection with the manufacturer.

Other Distribution Channels

Some distribution channels are not direct. For example, when a retailer sells goods directly to the public, no middleman exists. Instead, the retailer acts as the middleman between the buyer and the seller. In this case, the manufacturer sells directly to the end user, who pays the retailer directly. An indirect channel would include wholesalers who sell directly to retailers, distribution channels who sell directly to consumers, and distribution channels who do not sell directly to end users.

This type of marketing strategy is useful for many reasons. For one thing, it increases sales since people can purchase the product straight from the manufacturer. Also, it allows manufacturers to establish direct relationships with consumers. This means that the manufacturer knows exactly who the customer is, what they want, and how they behave before purchasing. This information allows the manufacturer to create future products to target specific audiences more accurately.

An indirect channel requires retailers to use intermediaries. However, this is usually more costly than simply using a direct channel since intermediaries charge a fee for their services. For this reason, direct channels are often used to increase sales for established companies. This is good news for retailers since established companies already have an established customer base. They do not need to spend additional time or money developing new markets.


There are many types of distribution channels available. A distributor can be a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, importer, or a manufacturer-wholesaler relationship. The most common channels are distributors to retailers and importers. Distributors can act as representatives who visit the wholesaler and the retailer to sell the products directly. A distributor can also act as a middleman who contacts manufacturers or wholesalers on behalf of the consumer and prepares the order for payment and fulfillment.


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