Export distributors

Last updated 19 March 2019

A distributor buys your products to resell in their market. They buy at a discount and make money by selling at a higher price.

The contract of sale is between you and the distributor. The stock they buy is their responsibility and they deal with the end customer.

A distributor will usually buy in bulk and should:

  • reduce your overheads and exposure to risk
  • provide access to their dealers and resellers
  • be a sustainable and scalable entry into a market

Less resource and control

A distributor markets and sells the product and provides aftersales support. Your costs will be reduced but you usually won’t have any control over the marketing and pricing of your product.

A good distributor may accept your suggested pricing and marketing material.

Like agents, a distributor may want to be the only seller in a geographic region.

Choosing a distributor

In some countries it can be difficult to part with a distributor before the end of their contract and they may have a legal right to compensation.

Take time to choose the right distributor. Discuss their experience and ask for a list of other exporters they represent who you can contact for a reference. Get listings and recommendations for distributors from:

  • other companies operating in the same sector
  • contacts at trade fairs and exhibitions
  • UK and overseas trade associations
  • our international trade adviser network

You should detail responsibilities, targets and how they’ll be measured in a written agreement. Get legal help to create the contract.