With the demands of today’s just-in-time expectations and global markets the manufacturer—distributor relationship is wholly interdependent. Without manufacturers, distributors would have nothing to sell - without distributors, manufacturers would struggle getting their products to customers. The relationship between producer and wholesaler/distributor has existed since the agricultural revolution when farmers provided produce and blacksmiths made hardware. They sold their products at the town grocer and agricultural implements & mechanics’ tools shops (today’s hardware stores) who then sold those products to consumers.
Today, significant advancements in technology and technical systems allows a product manufactured in Boise, Idaho to be automatically fulfilled at a distributor warehouse in Birmingham, England who delivers it to a customer in Newport, South Wales. Theoretically, all in the same day – practically within one to three days. And all this can occur with very little human interaction, yet with a tremendous amount of data sharing. Even as recently as 10 to 20 years ago warehouse workers wasted considerable amounts of time traveling throughout the warehouse to move product and get it to the customer. Yet improvements in flexibility and timeliness provided by evolving technologies reduces waste in the product distribution process as well as enhancing the customer experience through collection and sharing of data.