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What Does a Distribution Manager Do?

A distribution manager oversees the shipping of goods for a company.
Distribution manager duties may include stock and shipping.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2014
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A distribution manager typically oversees the acquisition, storage, and shipping of different types of goods for a company. Most distribution managers work for manufacturing firms and wholesale distributing companies, making decisions about how and where products should be delivered. They conduct market research to learn about the demand for different goods and convince retailers to carry their products. A distribution manager usually must have excellent leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills to ensure that workers stay on task at distribution centers and that products are delivered to their destinations in an accurate, timely manner.

Most distribution mangers work for centers that stock and ship products from many different manufacturers. They perform extensive market research to find out what goods sell best to commercial businesses and consumers, and determine appropriate quantities of items to stock. Managers advertise to retailers by putting together catalogs and magazines that outline products, prices, and deals. They make offers and take orders over the phone and through e-mail correspondence. Some managers actually visit retailers to demonstrate their products and discuss ordering terms.

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A distribution manager may also work at a manufacturing plant that markets products directly to businesses and consumers. He plays an important role in determining what to produce and in what quantity. The goal of a distribution manager is to maximize profits by analyzing market trends and shipping only those items that are likely to sell. Managers usually can maintain good relations with consumers and retailers by ensuring that deliveries consistently arrive on time and popular products are always kept in stock.

Written and verbal communication skills typically are essential to become a successful distribution manager. A professional frequently communicates with manufacturers to negotiate purchases and contacts trucking companies to arrange shipping procedures. He also works closely with floor personnel within the distribution center to ensure that everyone performs their job duties correctly. The manager is often responsible for hiring and training new workers, conducting routine performance reviews, and addressing questions and concerns from workers.

A person who wants to become a distribution manager is usually required to obtain a bachelor's degree in business management. In some large companies and industries, a professional is required to hold an advanced degree in management, marketing, or finance. Most distribution managers begin their careers as entry-level administrative assistants or workers on the floor of distribution centers to gain experience in shipping and receiving. Some professionals seek voluntary certification from accredited private organizations to improve their credentials and chances of finding work. With time and experience, a successful distribution manager may have the opportunity to advance to an executive position within a corporation.

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