The Nature and Scope of Marketing Logistics

  • Graham Buxton


In recent years great emphasis has been placed on looking at various aspects of management, and indeed the total management process, from a systems perspective. In its simplest terms this implies an approach to organisation and decision-making in a company which emphasises the relationships between the various functions and departments within the company, rather than the functions and departments per se as separate and discrete activities. For example, there are obvious advantages in standardising a product range from a manufacturing point of view, since this enables economies to be derived on the shop floor: long production runs are feasible, the number of different types of machines and operator skills is likely to be lower, and re-tooling becomes less of a problem. However, such a decision has equally apparent implications from the viewpoint of the sales or marketing manager, who may see a number of serious disadvantages resulting from a restriction of product variety: customers tend to be dissimilar in their product requirements because their needs or their problems are different, and therefore sales are likely to be enhanced if a more bespoke product range is offered. Clearly, in this situation (which is present in all manufacturing companies in one form or another) the ‘best’ decision must take into account the effects on both production and marketing efficiency. Rather than become involved in a discussion of holistic theories of the firm, we may assume that the ‘best’ decision is one which contributes most effectively (most economically) to corporate profit objectives.


Distribution Channel Conceptual Foundation Distribution Cost Business Logistics Channel Member 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    System definition and the analysis of systems is well treated in Stafford Beer, Decision and Control (London: Wiley, 1966) chap. 11Google Scholar
  2. Martin K. Starr, Management: A Modern Approach (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., 1971) pp. 72–82.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Ronald H. Ballou, Business Logistics Management (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1973) p. 8.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Donald J. Bowersox, Edward W. Smykay and Bernard J. La Londe, Physical Distribution Management, 2nd ed (New York: Macmillan, 1968) pp. 104–11.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    The survey was carried out in 1967 by Industrial and Commercial Techniques Limited for the Department of Employment. The US figures are based on a 1962 study of industrial distribution costs and trends in American corporations, conducted by A. T. Kearney & Co. for the American Trucking Associates Inc., Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    See, however, William D. Kirchner, ‘Physical Distribution: More Talk Than Action’, Handling and Shipping, vol. 12 (Oct. 1971) pp. 54–7.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    E. Jerome McCarthy, Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach, rev. ed. (Homewood, Ill.: Richard D. Irwin Inc., 1964) pp. 38–40.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Wendell M. Stewart, ‘Physical Distribution: Key to Improved Volume and Profits’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 29 (Jan. 1965) pp. 65–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 8.
    For a number of examples of the meaning of availability in distribution, see Philip B. Schary and Boris W. Becker, ‘The Marketing/Logistics Interface’, International Journal of Physical Distribution, vol. 3 no. 4 (Monograph Series, spring 1973) pp. 259–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 9.
    See James L. Heskett, ‘A Missing Link in Physical Distribution System Design’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 30 (Oct. 1966) pp. 37–41, in which the author argues that time is the unifying dimension in the planning and control of a logistics system.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 10.
    Finished goods inventory is defined as inventory which accumulates directly after production, and is therefore usually located within the factory or very close to the point of production.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Channel inventory is defined as inventory held by wholesalers, retailers, or at distribution depots.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    See, particularly, Bruce E. Mallen (ed.), The Marketing Channel (New York: Wiley, 1967)Google Scholar
  14. Louis P. Bucklin (ed.), Vertical Marketing Systems (Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman & Co., 1970).Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Bernard J. La Londe, John R. Grabner and James F. Robeson, ‘Integrated Distribution Systems: A Management Perspective’, International Journal of Physical Distribution, vol. 1, no. 1 (Oct. 1970) p. 46.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    American Marketing Association, Marketing Definitions: A Glossary of Marketing Terms (Chicago: AMA, 1960).Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    David A. Revzan, ‘Marketing Organisation Through the Channel’, in The Marketing Channel, p. 3.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    Wroe Alderson, ‘Factors Governing the Development of Marketing Channels’, in The Marketing Channel, p. 38.Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    Maureen Guirdham, Marketing: The Management of Distribution Channels (Oxford: Pergamon, 1972) p. 104.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    Phillip McVey, ‘Are Channels of Distribution What the Textbooks Say?’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 24 (Jan. 1960) pp. 61–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 19.
    Ralph F. Breyer, ‘Some Observations on “Structural” Formation and the Growth of Marketing Channels’, in The Marketing Channel, pp. 20–7.Google Scholar
  22. 20.
    The concept of flows in channel systems is treated in great depth by Fisk, who identifies five behaviour elements, or unit channel flows, in any transaction: communication, ownership, finance, physical distribution and risk. See George Fisk, Marketing Systems: An Introductory Analysis (New York: Harper & Row, 1967) pp. 216–32, chap. 9–13.Google Scholar
  23. 21.
    This form of temporal risk is related to channel structure in Louis P. Bucklin, ‘Postponement, Speculation and the Structure of Distribution Channels’, Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 2 (Feb. 1965) pp. 26–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 22.
    Bruce E. Mallen, ‘Conflict and Cooperation in Marketing Channels’, in The Marketing Channel, p. 131.Google Scholar

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© Graham Buxton 1975

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  • Graham Buxton

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