Monday, October 29, 2007

When to use a distributor

In May, Diane Sam launched a new product MoBoleez, a breastfeeding hat. The hats are selling really well and have taken off much faster than she anticipated. But she is now getting inquiries from Japan, Singapore, Kuwait, and New Zealand from distributors wanting to represent her product line. Her question: What do I need to look for in a distributor? Am I better off just selling them through “head office,” or should I try and get distributors? If I do, how do I protect my brand, and make sure they are representing our company well? A couple of them seem like good opportunities, but what do I need to know about them before proceeding?

I also had a number of distributors contact me in the early years of Robeez. And often they seemed like a really good opportunity until we got into all the details. Overseas opportunities can be logistical nightmares. From quotas to customs to local legislation, working with an overseas distributor has the potential to suck up a lot of your time.

My advice: focus your energies on North America. If sales are picking up in Western Canada then look at distributing in the east. If sales in Canada are humming, take a look at the US market. There are loads of opportunities for distribution in both countries. And by focusing your energies on markets close-to-home, you avoid diluting your efforts worldwide.

When you do have extra capacity, you can spend time carefully researching the correct distributor for your product. You want to know how they will represent your brand, where it will be distributed, how it will be priced, and the level of service they will provide. All these elements must be in line with what MoBoleez is all about. If you do decide to work with a distributor, I recommend having a candid conversation with other brands they represent.

Congratulations on your new business!add to sk*rt

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