Distribution

Resources for Distribution Operations

  • What is Distribution?

    The Distribution Group connects product and consumer, encompassing warehousing, packaging, loading, transportation and delivery. In some operations the distribution function is also responsible for fleet (trucks, vans, planes, etc.) management, shipment tracking and customer returns. As globalization continues, distribution operations have become increasingly more complex and extended.
  • The History of Distribution

    The earliest known distribution functions ensured proper storage and delivery of scarce resources. The Egyptians, like other early civilizations, stored grain communally in granaries operated by the government to maintain a stable food supply over the course of the year. The ancient Greeks traded across the Mediterranean Sea and set up distribution centers to warehouse various commodities, such as wine and olive oil, for trade across the region. By the mid-thirteenth century trade along the Silk Road helped to distribute goods (textiles, spices, etc.) between Europe and Asia. European exploration of the Americas after the fifteenth century ultimately resulted in global trade routes, which required much more sophisticated distribution networks and storage methods to accommodate the growing demand for goods and services around the world. Development of railroads in the nineteenth century increased the speed with which goods could be shipped, and refrigeration expanded the shelf life of perishable goods.
  • Modern Trends in Distribution

    Modern distribution groups are increasingly sophisticated. Digital communications have improved the ability to track and analyze order and shipment trends, which enables the maximization of space in both warehousing and shipping vessels. Many distribution groups work on a global scale and collect massive amounts of data on shipping routes, inventory levels and delivery quality. When properly analyzed and published, this data can be used to improve performance and bring new levels of efficiency to the distribution process.

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