Career Development

What Does a Distribution Manager Do?

Find out what a distribution manager does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a distribution manager.

Distribution managers are responsible for overseeing the distribution of goods and services. They work with suppliers, vendors, and other third-party service providers to ensure that their company’s products reach customers in a timely fashion.

Distribution managers may also be tasked with managing inventory levels or ensuring that products are properly stored at various points along the supply chain. This can include everything from deciding which warehouses will store certain products to monitoring temperature controls during transit.

Distribution Manager Job Duties

A distribution manager typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Ensuring that products are delivered to customers in a timely manner through the use of effective inventory management techniques
  • Managing budgets and planning expenditures to ensure that costs are kept under control while still achieving business goals
  • Negotiating with vendors to obtain favorable terms on supplies and services needed by the company
  • Reviewing sales reports to identify market trends and areas for improvement in product lines or distribution methods
  • Recommending changes to product lines based on consumer trends
  • Training employees about company policies and procedures for handling inventory, shipping orders, and other tasks
  • Analyzing market data to determine the best locations for new distribution centers or stores based on customer demographics and purchasing patterns
  • Maintaining relationships with vendors and suppliers in order to secure competitive rates on products and services
  • Creating distribution schedules and routes to ensure timely delivery of goods to customers

Distribution Manager Salary & Outlook

Distribution managers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and industry of the company. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses and commissions.

  • Median Annual Salary: $73,500 ($35.34/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $142,000 ($68.27/hour)

The employment of distribution managers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Employment growth will be driven by e-commerce and the continued consolidation of retail establishments, which will increase demand for distribution managers. As online retailers continue to grow in popularity, more companies will need to find ways to efficiently deliver products to customers.

Related: Distribution Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Distribution Manager Job Requirements

A distribution manager typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: A high school diploma or GED certificate is often a minimum requirement for a distribution manager position. Some companies may prefer or require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business or supply chain management.

Training & Experience: Distribution managers typically receive on-the-job training after they are hired. This training may last for a few weeks to a few months and may include shadowing a current distribution manager or another member of the management team. The training may also include learning about the company’s specific policies and procedures.

Certifications & Licenses: Distribution managers do not need any certifications to earn their position. However, there are certifications available for distribution managers who wish to increase their earning potential or make themselves more competitive when attempting to advance in their careers.

Distribution Manager Skills

Distribution managers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. As a distribution manager, you may be responsible for communicating with suppliers, customers and other members of your team. Strong communication skills can help you convey information clearly and efficiently.

Customer service: Customer service is the ability to interact with customers in a friendly and helpful manner. Distribution managers often interact with customers and suppliers, so customer service skills can help you develop positive relationships with others in the workplace. Customer service skills can also help you provide information to customers and suppliers about products and services.

Organization: Distribution managers often have strong organizational skills, which can help them keep track of their inventory, sales data and other information. Organization skills can also help you plan your routes and schedules for your delivery team.

Problem-solving: Distribution managers are responsible for ensuring that products are delivered to their intended destinations on time. This means that they need to be able to identify and solve potential issues that may arise during the distribution process. For example, if a truck breaks down during a delivery, a distribution manager may need to find a new truck to complete the delivery.

Product knowledge: Product knowledge is the ability to understand the features and benefits of a product. This can help you to better explain the product to customers and help you to make informed decisions about which products to carry in your distribution center.

Distribution Manager Work Environment

Distribution managers typically work in an office setting, although they may spend time on the floor of the distribution center to observe operations and talk with employees. They typically work regular business hours, although they may be required to work overtime during busy periods or to respond to emergencies. Distribution managers may be under a great deal of pressure to meet deadlines and to keep costs down, but they also find their work to be challenging and rewarding.

Distribution Manager Trends

Here are three trends influencing how distribution managers work. Distribution managers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of eCommerce

The growth of eCommerce is a trend that is having a major impact on the distribution industry. As more and more people shop online, businesses are looking for professionals who can help them manage their distribution channels.

This trend is creating opportunities for distribution managers who are able to understand the needs of eCommerce retailers and develop solutions that meet those needs. By understanding the latest trends in eCommerce, distribution managers can help their clients stay ahead of the competition.

More Focus on Customer Experience

As customers become more demanding, businesses are focusing more on customer experience as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. This means that distribution managers will need to focus on providing excellent service to their customers.

In order to provide an excellent customer experience, distribution managers will need to be familiar with current trends in customer service. They will also need to be able to identify ways to improve the customer experience and implement changes that will have a positive impact on the bottom line.

A Greater Emphasis on Supply Chain Optimization

As businesses strive to become more efficient, they are placing a greater emphasis on supply chain optimization. This means that distribution managers will need to be able to find ways to streamline their operations and make sure that products are delivered to customers quickly and efficiently.

In order to be successful in this field, distribution managers will need to be able to think outside the box and come up with new ways to optimize their supply chains. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with other members of the team and be able to work well under pressure.

How to Become a Distribution Manager

A career as a distribution manager can be rewarding in many ways. It offers the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life, and to help them get their products to market. It also provides the chance to learn about different industries and how they operate.

To be successful in this role, you need to have strong organizational skills, be able to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, and be able to think strategically about how best to meet customer needs. You should also be comfortable working with technology, as most companies use some form of electronic data systems to track orders and shipments.

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance in the field of distribution management. One of the best is to get further education, which can lead to positions that are not otherwise open to those without an advanced degree. For example, a distribution manager with a bachelor’s degree may wish to obtain a master’s degree in business administration, which would enable him or her to apply for management positions in larger companies.

Another way to advance in this field is to gain experience and expertise in a particular area of distribution management. For example, a distribution manager who specializes in transportation might eventually become a transportation manager, and a distribution manager who specializes in warehousing might eventually become a warehouse manager.

Finally, distribution managers can advance by taking on additional responsibilities within their companies. For example, a distribution manager who is also responsible for customer service might eventually become a director of distribution and customer service.

Distribution Manager Job Description Example

The Distribution Manager is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the distribution department. They will oversee the receiving, warehousing, and shipping of products to meet company standards. The Distribution Manager will develop and implement strategies to improve the department’s productivity and efficiency. They will also be responsible for the department’s budget and for ensuring that the department meets all safety and compliance regulations. The ideal candidate will have experience managing a distribution department, as well as experience with logistics and supply chain management. They will be an excellent communicator with strong leadership and organizational skills.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Oversee all aspects of the distribution center, including inbound and outbound operations, shipping and receiving, inventory control, and warehouse management
  • Ensure that orders are processed accurately and efficiently, and that customer service levels are met or exceeded
  • Develop and implement strategies to improve productivity, quality, and efficiency of operations
  • Manage staff, including hiring, training, coaching, and performance evaluations
  • Plan and forecast staffing needs, and adjust staffing levels as needed to meet business demands
  • Monitor and report on KPIs, and take corrective action as necessary to ensure targets are met
  • Prepare and manage the distribution center budget
  • Negotiate contracts with vendors and suppliers
  • Maintain compliance with all relevant laws, regulations, and company policies
  • Keep abreast of industry trends and best practices, and implement appropriate changes to improve operations
  • Liaise with other departments within the organization, such as marketing, sales, and customer service, to ensure smooth and efficient operations
  • Respond to customer inquiries and complaints in a timely and professional manner

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, logistics, or related field
  • 10+ years experience in distribution, warehouse, or manufacturing operations
  • Proven track record of successful team leadership and project management
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • MBA or other advanced degree
  • Working knowledge of ERP/MRP systems
  • Experience with Six Sigma or other process improvement methodology
  • Certification in Lean Manufacturing or other relevant field


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