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In India, Distribution is God

Reaching Indian consumers is difficult for supply chain managers and entrepreneurs, as the last leg of the supply chain journey is normally handled by independent, small vendors. It's this difficulty with distribution that hamstrings both big established and startup company's attempts at securing a reliable supply chain in the country. According to this article on Harvard Business Review, even Apple's innovation struggles with India's multiple layers of distribution:

Modern distribution networks are rare in India; you either create one or have to work with several small and often unreliable players. That's true of TV and film as well as other consumer products. For example, new TV channels have to depend on tens of thousands of small cable operators, who have set up networks in residential areas.

The improvised cable system reaches almost every corner of the country, but payment problems are endemic, with layers of wholesalers, sub-distributors, and others misreporting sales and delaying payments. The same challenge applies to start-ups that market solar lamps in India. Much of the country sees the sun year round, but none of the pioneering start-ups has found a way of distributing products nationwide.

But this doesn't imply that anyone should give up on the effort: India is both a unique market and a growing one, with a market that is expected to double in size as literacy rises. Both Indian startup companies and outsiders must attain the trust of the vendors and customers in order to strengthen their roots.

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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