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Contract Design for the Stockist in Indian Distribution Networks

Published in
Volume: 21
Issue: 2
Pages: 398 - 416

Problem definition: Stockists are the entity in the supply chain who deliver to the millions of small shops that account for over 90% of retail sales in India. The stockist purchases product from the manufacturer, develops retailer interest in carrying the product, solves the logistics problem of delivery to retailers, and manages retail credit and money collection. In return, the stockist is provided assistance by the manufacturer and paid an associated margin that is a percent of the product’s retail price. We observed relatively low distribution margins offered to the stockists in India that was a surprise given infrastructure and financing challenges. We noted that the low margins are enabled by the efficiency in product delivery and demand stimulation induced by the stockist. In this paper, we focus on the analysis of screening contracts offered by manufacturers to stockists. Methodology: We use a principal–agent model structure and model the routing cost, inventory cost, and demand impact of the stockist’s capability. We then use a substitutes or complements relationship between manufacturer assistance and stockist impact to understand the optimal contract structure—i.e., level of assistance and associated retail margin. We describe the economics associated with the stockist, provide data regarding the margins and assistance provided by the manufacturer, and use the model to understand their use in developing an effective supply chain. Results: Our model uses three parameters to show that a manufacture can adjust the level of spatial retailer intensity and thus the impact of the stockist in generating demand, the fraction of high-performing stockists associated with the manufacturer and the nature of the relationship between assistance provided and its impact on the stockist’s performance (i.e., complements or substitutes relationship), to attain superior performance. Academic/practical relevance: We parameterize data from Indian firms in the consumer goods industry to understand the observed assistance provided by the manufacturer to the stockist, and associated margins. We then use our model to understand actions taken by a manufacturer in the Indian market. Managerial implications: Our analysis provides a framework for manufacturers to design screening contracts for stockists who play a vital role in managing the fragmented retail markets in developing countries.

About the journal
JournalManufacturing and Service Operations Management
Open AccessNo