Who are the key-partners in international business development?

Partners in international business development can be distinguished in three main type of profiles: Importers; Distributors; Resellers.

Each of these profiles has a different relevance in the potential strategy we could implement to establish our business in a new country. Thus, it would be important to understand properly their different roles and activities in order to understand how their profile could match our business.

It is also relevant to underline that not always all these three profiles can be useful to our commercial strategy; potentially we could work with one, two or all of these three profiles.

The specific chain of any sector does not depends only on the will of a company or a producer, but it is influenced by various factors such as the geographic position, the transport costs, the knowledge we have about a specific country, the new legal framework, etc. All these factors influence the strategy of a producer or a company willing to develop its business abroad which cannot always control independently its internationalisation process.


Importers are all the companies characterized by these factors:

  1. They buy large quantity of products to import them;
  2. They work constantly with customs and therefore they are expert on legal practices and customs procedures;
  3. They transport, import and stock large quantity of products with low prices;
  4. They resell the products to local distributors.

This kind of company profile is very well known in particular in country with customs and border and which are not belonging to large economic community. In these countries the customs clearance and the need to reduce logistic costs are two key factors for containing costs and for the arrival of the goods at destination without problems.


Distributors are all the companies characterized by these factors:

  1. They buy products from importers or directly from producers;
  2. They sell their stock to resellers or to specific category of the commercial chain (i.e. in industrial sector to installers);
  3. They have large stock to guarantee a fast delivery around all their territory of competence;
  4. They have a well-structured and widespread sale-network;
  5. They have various promotional and marketing activities such as sectorial fairs or events;
  6. They can have post-selling activities – i.e. technical assistance for industrial machineries;
  7. They are able to support financially (i.e. leasing, payment extension, etc.) their partners and resellers;
  8. They are usually located in industrial/commercial zones out of large cities.

Distributors often represent key partners to a successful export-strategy or any internationalisation business process.

In some cases distributors can work also as importers, but generally speaking the two profiles are distinguished.


Retailers are all the companies characterized by these factors:

  1. They buy from distributors medium or small quantity of products;
  2. They sell to final customers;
  3. They usually commercial structures in residential areas or peripheral area easily reachable by consumers.

Retailers are for instance supermarkets, department stores, and various kind of shops.

This brief overview of these professional figures gives us a clearer understanding of different types of partners, of what they do and which of them are useful in our internationalization process. Identifying the necessary partner is a primary step for developing a correct and successful strategy to do business in a new country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *