A broad concept of an intermediary is that it covers all those firms placed between the manufacturer and the customer. Historically, this referred to a traditional channel structure with a vertically integrated manufacturer, a wholesaler, retailer and then the consumer. For the types of distribution systems, the intermediaries consist of a larger number of more specialized firms providing services. These may or may not own the goods they are handling, and their area of responsibility can be limited or broad, depending on the structure of the distribution system. All of these firms, however, still carry out tasks that are essential to bridging the gap between the manufacturer and consumer. Intermediaries can carry out a range of tasks, including payment processing, transport, transport planning and management, storage and handling, and increasingly, light manufacturing and assembly. On the business-to-business relationship level, distribution intermediaries function in themselves as positional resources by connecting networks of suppliers with networks of customers.