A new medium--the Internet and World Wide Web--is changing distribution channels like no other force since the Industrial Revolution. It is modifying many of the assumptions on which channel structure is based, and in some cases it is transforming and even obliterating channels themselves. As a result, many intermediaries will die out, while new channels and intermediaries will take their place. There are three essential purposes of distribution channels: to support economies of scope, to routinize transactions, and to search for information essential to both producer and consumer. However, the Internet and Web have brought about the death of distance, the homogenization of time, and the irrelevance of location. A matrix model of these developments, arrayed versus distribution channel functions, provides a guide to identifying which traditional channels will either undergo transformation or perish and where new channels will emerge. The matrix model suggests how existing firms and entrepreneurs can perform their distribution functions more efficiently. It enables identification of competitors poised to use the media to change the rules of the marketplace. Finally, it helps managers brainstorm ways in which an existing industry can be vulnerable and a totally new one defined.
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