What is a Shared Distribution Strategy?

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So what is a Shared Distribution Strategy, and how can it help my organization to overcome Supply Chain Challenges?

“A Shared Distribution Strategy, and taking a collaborative approach to your Supply Chain, is an effective way to meet Supply Chain challenges head on.”

Working as a small or medium sized enterprise can be very difficult when you have lower volume customers in sparsely populated areas. Your company needs to get orders to that customer but face challenges in ensuring the order is both timely and cost effective. These challenges are not easy to overcome and often companies must take a loss making these deliveries to keep larger contracts with the customer. While still producing returns, this Supply Chain design is not sustainable in the longterm, especially with increasing competition and technological advances in the market.


Often, rural orders do not completely fill a truck; leaving capacity that if filled would decrease costs. One option is running routine orders through a less-than-truckload (LTL) company but this can be pricey. LTL companies are great for many Supply Chain solutions including special orders and if your organization does not have its own fleet. However, this service will come at a cost premium and you typically hand over control/trackability to the LTL carrier. When you have a recurring lower volume order to a customer in rural areas, there is a cheaper effective option… shared distribution.  


Shared Distribution is a valuable strategy for an organization to adopt and denotes the integration of partners to create a ‘sharing model’. This sharing model will allow partners to combine Supply Chain infrastructure, assets, and technology to consolidate lower volume orders together on smaller volume routes. This combining/consolidating can help to optimize routes, reducing excess capacity, leading to cost reductions and increased sustainability in your Supply Chain. In short, you look for other organizations who are moving low volume orders to partner with to fill the excess capacity on a truck. Your organization must be confident working with the new parter, as close collaboration will partially integrate the organizations. This collaborative approach will bring mutual benefit and strengthen Supply Chain effectiveness. The opportunity is even greater when amplified over large distance.

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Lets look at a potential Supply Chain example:

Much of Canada faces a difficult Supply Chain challenge, population density. With the wide spread of population, creating timely and cost effective orders to rural areas can be challenging for carriers. In Western Canada the average population is around 3.5 people/square km! While there are larger population beds to stage from, reaching all of the rural customers is not an easy task while reminaing highly profitable.


Rural distribution routes in Western Canada for major consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies can be as extensive as 1800 km, delivering 7,000 kg of product to many locations over a two day period. You can fit ~22,000 kg onto a 53’ foot trailer. This means that CPG companies are effectively utilizing 32% of the available capacity within their trailer. These distribution systems can cost CPG companies as much as $250,000 per year or $0.34 per kg. If the trailer was fully utilized these costs could be reduced to $0.11 per kg.


Supply Chains face many challenges in optimally fulfilling orders across the markets they reach and challenges are only growing as Supply Chains become increasly complex. Ensuring orders are timely and cost effective is not an easy task but it is imperative for an organization to remain profitable. Naturally, in low population/volume areas, these challenges are only accentuated. A Shared Distribution Strategy and taking a collaborative approach to your Supply Chain is an effective way to meet this challenges head on.


If you are interested in learning more about Shared Distirution Strategies, looking for possible partners, or have questions, contact the experts at Triskele Logistics!

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