68 Distribution Channels For Consumer Products

Do you have a product that can be sold to consumers? Are you selling it now?

However many consumer product distribution channels you sell into now, the odds are you could be selling your products through more.

In the US alone, there are 68 channels for consumer products. Here’s the list:


1. Discount & Club Stores (Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sam’s)
2. Supermarket & Grocery (Kroger, Safeway)
3. Dept Store Chains (May Co, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s)
4. Home, Hardware Chains (Home Depot)
5. Drug & Health, Beauty Care (Walgreen’s)
6. Specialty Apparel Stores
7. Consumer Electronics Stores (Best Buy)
8. Convenience Stores (7-11)
9. General, Specialty Merchandise
10. Home Furnishings (Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sears)
11. Office Products Stores (Office Depot, Office Max)
12. Computer Stores (Comp USA)
13. Auto Aftermarket Stores (NAPA, Pep Boys)
14. Toy, Hobby & Craft Stores (Toys R’Us, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby )
15. Card, Gift & Stationery (Hallmark)
16. Pet & Pet Supplies (PetsMart, PetCo)
17. Book Stores (B. Dalton, Border’s)
18. Housewares, Giftware (Pier 1)
19. Dollar Stores, Closeout, Odd Lot (Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Big Lots)
20. Marine Retail Stores
21. Military PX’s
22. Jewelry Stores (Shane Co, Zales)
23. Paint & Wallpaper Stores
24. Sporting Goods (Sports Authority, Bass Pro, Dick’s)
25. Music & Video Stores
26. Farm & Feed Stores, Co-ops
27. Offer private label (store brand) production & packaging to any of the above retailers
28. Wholesalers, Distributors & Service Merchandisers There are distributors in many channels – for example GMDC and NASM are associations of distributors and service merchandisers serving the grocery market – your customer is the wholesaler instead of the retailer.
29. International Chain Retailers – The top 250 world-wide retail chains have about $3 Trillion of sales – approx 1/3 of the estimated $9.0 Trillion retail sales world-wide. The largest retailers outside the US tend to cover many categories and be conglomerates. US companies account for 36% of the # companies on the list and 44% of the sales.
30. Sell to International Distributors
31. Sell as a Direct Importer to Retail Chains
32. Joint Venture with a business in another country – you supply product, they supply distribution

Direct Response Channels

1. Direct Mail (Non-catalog)
2. Direct Mail (Catalog) – either business to business (BTB) or business to consumer (BTC) – sell to companies who already have a catalog and customers in your product category. There are 12,000 companies who mail BTC catalogs, and 6,000 more selling BTB.
3. Telephone Marketing – very effective, pay attention to Do Not Call laws
4. Infomercials – 60 second to 30 minute TV commercials
5. Home Shopping TV Shows – (QVC and HSN)
6. Direct Response Radio
7. Direct Response Ads In Magazines – run in magazines others have proved work for DR. Getting the right media buy is critical
8. Direct Response Newspaper Ads – same issues as magazines
9. Insert Media (statement stuffers, package inserts, bounce-backs)
10. Magalogs – they look like magazines but are really sales letters
11. Newsletters – both email and print are the ideal way to reach someone else’s customers
12. Seminars – $5 Million in a weekend – info products

Internet Channels – also part of Direct Response

13. Web Site – your own site, blog or store – Yahoo Store
14. Web Stores – sell at your own web stores, other company’s web stores or JV with other web sites – for example, if you sell books, Amazon.com
15. On-Line Affiliate Programs – a form of JV, need to know your visitor value and have “done for them” marketing for your affiliates to get them interested & to be competitive w/other affiliate programs
16. Sell on E-Bay, JV with Power Sellers
17. E-mail, E-books, E-Newsletters – downloads sell well through “Click Bank”, others
18. On-Line JV’s with others who have customers that should also be your customers

Selling Direct To The Consumer But Not Through Retail or Direct Response

1. Network Marketing – set up your own or supply an existing company – $100B in sales world-wide – largest dist channel for nutritional supplements ahead of mail order, Internet, direct response and practitioners
2. Party Plan Direct Sales Companies – work with an existing one or set up your own (Avon, Tupperware, Candles)
3. Consumer Home & Garden Shows – these get as many as 60 to 70,000 people through in one weekend – if you have an appropriate product, it’s a great way to quickly and inexpensively test consumer acceptance. 100+ shows/year in all major cities
4. State & County Fairs – hundreds per year
5. Flea Markets – some run daily, some on weekends and some seasonally or annually – over 800 per year
6. Franchises & Business Opportunities – supply your product to an existing franchise or business opportunity company or start your own – Entrepreneur Magazine’s top 500 Franchises had $134B sales in 2005.

Selling Consumer Products To Businesses

1. Schools
2. Government, Federal, State, Local – The Federal government spends over $200B and they target buying $46B of that from small businesses, $14B from disadvantaged businesses and $10B from women owned businesses.
3. Premiums & Incentives
4. Sell to other consumer product manufacturers to be a part of their product

Custom Imprinted With Logos Or Messages

1. Imprinted Sportswear
2. Advertising Specialty/Promotional Products
3. Premiums & Incentive Travel
4. Direct to Businesses for promotional or incentive use
5. Souvenir Outlets (Amusement & Theme Parks, Zoos, Tourist Attractions, Truck Stops)
6. Joint Ventures (with any other type of company who currently sells a product or service to your market)


1. Restaurant Chains ($511B Industry)
2. Food Service Distributors (supply restaurants, food stores and food service companies)
3. Hospital Supply Distributors
4. Hotels, Cruise Lines, Casinos, Resorts

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