A sectoral perspective on distribution structure design

Alexander T.C. Onstein, Lóránt A. Tavasszy, Jafar Rezaei, Dick A. van Damme, Adeline Heitz

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This paper studies the factors that drive distribution structure design (DSD), which includes the spatial layout of distribution channels and location choice of logistics facilities. We build on a generic framework from existing literature, which we validate and elaborate using interviews among industry practitioners. Empirical evidence was collected from 18 logistics experts and 33 decision-makers affiliated to shippers and logistics service providers from the fashion, consumer electronics and online retail sectors. It turns out that interviewees share similar rankings of main factors across industries, and even confirm factor weights from earlier research established using multi-criteria decision analysis, which would indicate that the framework is sector- neutral at the highest level. The importance attached to subfactors varies between sectors according to our expectations. We were able to identify 20 possible new influencing subfactors. The results may support managers in their decision-making process, and regional policy-makers with regard to spatial planning and regional marketing. The framework is a basis for researchers to help improve further quantitative DSD support models.


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