Kenniscentrum Techniek

Distribution Centre Locations and Spatial Distribution Channel Layout

Factors driving company decision-making on distribution centre (DC) locations and spatial distribution channel layout


In the context of globalisation, companies face major logistics challenges to transport products from production locations (often low costs countries) to consumer markets. Customers expect high distribution service levels; their products need to be delivered on time, at the preferred location, and for the right price. But how can a company offer high service distribution while keeping logistics costs low?

The aim of this PhD research is to investigate which distribution layout companies apply and what are the important factors that companies use to design their distribution layout including distribution centre locations.

The main question of our research is: What are the factors that drive company’s decisions on their distribution channel layout and distribution centre location(s)?

There are three main types of distribution channel layout:

  • Centralised layout: a central distribution centre location used to supply all customers.
  • Decentralised layout: multiple distribution centres to supply regional consumer markets.
  • Hybrid: a combination of centralised and decentralised layout.

In general, companies that ship high value products (such as mobile phones) tend to use a centralised layout because this minimises the number of storage locations. Companies that ship low value – high demand products will use a decentralised layout.

The rise in e-commerce sales influences companies to develop new distribution layouts. For example including pick up or return at local delivery points.

Our research project studies three industry sectors; e-commerce, fashion and consumer electronics.


  • Companies can learn what are the important factors to apply when designing a distribution channel layout and DC locations.
  • Governments can learn how companies value the important aspects of distribution design and distribution centre localisation.
  • Our research supports scientists to develop models that calculate the optimal distribution layout for a company.
  • The project teaches students Logistics Engineering and Logistics Management what are the important aspects of distribution design and distribution centre location selection.


For more information about the project please contact Sander Onstein, project coordinator Distribution Centre Locations and Spatial Distribution Channel Layout .


The research project is a collaboration between the Research Group Smart Mobility and Logistics, Urban Technology at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and Transport and Logistics (TLO) at Delft University of Technology. This PhD research is funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

  • Sander Onstein – PhD Researcher Logistics – AUAS
  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Lori Tavasszy – Promotor – Professor Freight & Logistics – Delft University of Technology
  • Dr. Dick van Damme – Copromotor – Professor Mainport Logistics - AUAS

Scientific article (peer reviewed):

  • Alexander T. C. Onstein, Mehrnaz Ektesaby, Jafar Rezaei, Lóránt A. Tavasszy & Dick A. van Damme (2019): Importance of factors driving firms’ decisions on spatial distribution structures, International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications, DOI: 10.1080/13675567.2019.1574729

  • Onstein, A.T.C., L.A. Tavasszy, and D.A. van Damme (2018). Factors determining distribution structure decisions in logistics: a literature review and research agenda. Transport Reviews, DOI: 10.1080/01441647.2018.1459929 .

Conference articles (selection):

  • Onstein, A.T.C., M. Ektesaby, J. Rezaei, L.A. Tavasszy, and D.A. van Damme (2017). Factors Driving Firms’ Spatial Decisions on Distribution Channel Layout. Arnhem: Vervoerslogistieke Werkdagen 2017.
  • Onstein, A.T.C., L.A. Tavasszy, and D.A. van Damme (2018). Factoren achter grondvorm en DC-locatiekeuze: interviewresultaten uit drie sectoren, download paper (Best Paper Award Vervoerslogistieke Werkdagen).

Gepubliceerd door  Faculteit Techniek 27 oktober 2022

Project Info

Startdatum 01 jan 2016
Einddatum 31 dec 2019