In every country or market – whether developed, emerging or underdeveloped – consumer products eventually go through some form of distribution process. The distribution chain involves movement of goods from factory gate or shipping yard to consumers’ doorstep. Success in international market largely depends on entering the distribution chain with suitable overseas partner who can successfully introduce your products. There are several models and resources – one can select depending on own organizational resource.
1. Wholesale Model
Wholesaling involves selling in bulk to an overseas wholesale partner who has access to downstream channel for re-selling the goods. The wholesaler buys in bulk from Indian seller and takes complete responsibility of selling the goods in his/her own country. Post sell, the Indian seller is free of anxiety, but loses track of how his/her products doing, such as – at what price the consumer is buying, margin of intermediates, consumer feedback etc.
Sources of Information
A. Trade Shows
One of the best places to connect with potential partners is at trade shows in target country. A company participating in an overseas trade show can find agents and distributors and discuss one-to-one mutual expectations to arrive at agreement. Though this is a rather expensive way – but is a comparatively easy way to find overseas agents and distributors.
B. Export Import Data Released By Customs
This is a reliable way of finding overseas importers and their domestic partner. Coupled with some web research – one may discover a veritable goldmine of information on overseas importers and their style of work. One note of caution – though the importer details from customs list are authentic, backed by factual data, there’s no guarantee the selected importer would do business with you.
C. Online Sources
The least expensive way of finding an overseas channel partner is online resources. However, one may have to remain involved for comparatively longer period to get any response. Here’s few online resources for finding overseas wholesaler
1. Top Ten Wholesale
Top Ten Wholesale offers diverse sources for wholesale and closeout merchandise product information. Linked to some of the world’s top suppliers, the site requires some time to browse through its many products.
Largest b2b liquidation marketplace in North America
One of the largest European directory of verified wholesalers and drop shippers
4 Wholesale USA is a free wholesale directory and locator. Here one can search through hundreds of wholesale suppliers, manufacturers, liquidation and closeouts. Whether it’s jewelry, candles or clothing, the directory has many suppliers for each product.
Greatrep.com specifically focuses on giftware, home furnishings, and furniture sold wholesale. The site includes Find a Rep and Find a Store to put you in contact with manufacturers in more than 70 product categories
Closeoutcentral connects suppliers with buyers and offers a wide range of products, such as apparel, jewelry, and tools and hardware. It offers products resulting from liquidations, closeouts, and extra inventory.
7. Wholesale Directory
Wholesale Suppliers and Distributors Directory for thousands of quality wholesale products, drop shippers and wholesalers offering competitive and discounted price.
8. Wholesale Hub
Wholesale hub provides rich information on wholesalers such as: type of supplier (manufacturer, distributor, importer, etc), multiple forms of contact (email, web address, phone, mail), minimum order size, what payment methods they accept,whether they have a website that accepts online orders (and whether that site is secure for e-commerce), are they dropshippers, do they have a print catalog, and more.
BAOlink is associated with some of the world’s most outstanding trade shows. Not only does the site present some of the world’s leading wholesalers, but it also facilitates the transaction of business between buyers and suppliers.
2. Distribution Model
Adopting distribution model for overseas expansion demands far more complexity and maturity than wholesale model. A distributor is like an extended arm – the business must nurture it properly for a win-win outcome. Unlike wholesale model – overseas distributor works in close unison with parent company supplying vital information like market trend, consumer feedback, competitor information etc.
Like wholesale model – one can find potential overseas distributor through trade shows or export import data. However, perhaps the best route will be to select an existing overseas wholesale partner and nurture him/her to long term partner. This demands a prior wholesale involvement.
Following are few sources of information on overseas distributors
1. Eu Distributors
This portal works like vanik.com covering whole of European Union. One may find distributors in any European country, whether France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden or any other European country – EU Distributor claims to have verified distributors from all over European Union.
Sales4Sales works with international manufacturers representing their business in Europe.
As sales representative in Europe, the company claims to overcome language, distance and cultural obstacles. They contact new channel partners and follow up on leads on behalf of parent company.
3. ICIS Top 100 Chemical Distributors Ranking – 2019
4. List of Top Industrial Distributors
Distributor and Manufacturer Associations, MDM publishes various reports and reviews on wholesale distribution. This is their evaluation of top distributors in various sectors.
5. National Association of Chemical Distributors (US)
6. European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC)
7. CSEN Global Lists of Medical Distributors
CSEN.com publishes global list of medical distributors
8. INTRADE Ltd for Latin-American Market
Intrade Ltd operates in Brazil since 1994 based in Sao Paulo
9. United Group – Pharma Distribution in Egypt
Claims to be leader of healthcare market in Egypt offering distribution related services for pharma sector
3. Sales Agent Model
Overseas Sales Agents working on commission basis is a reliable way to initiate overseas expansion. However, all products may not be suitable for sales agent route. Here’s a few information sources to find overseas sales agent
International Union of Independent sales agents
2. Sales Agent Hub
Established in 2006, Agents24 is a leading online platform to find and recruit Sales Agents.
From its headquarters in Italy, Agents24 conducts business in 37 Countries.
4. Global Trade
Disclaimer: The author has not done any due diligence on organizations and websites links published here. Consequently, the author takes no responsibility regarding these. Readers are advised to do their own due-diligence before making any monetary transaction
There can not be one best way to start overseas drive – the best route depends upon product, market, budget and host of other factors. However, for a small to medium company, Wholesaling or Sales Agent is perhaps the most cost effective way to start international expansion. As the company gathers experience and become more matured – distribution or a mix of wholesale and distribution could be better suited.