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Insights to Accelerate International Expansion
Distributor Management Guide
Our Mission: Help Manufacturers “Spend time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”
In This Issue
Sell to 96 Countries
Looking for new customers and
distributors in international markets?
Export Solutions’ distributor database
covers more than 9,200 distributors
in 96 countries. Our database features
extensive coverage of leading food,
confectionery, and beverage distributors.
New! Export Solutions’ retailer database
now tracks 2,700 retailers in 96 countries.
Order now at www.exportsolutions.com.
Page 3
Distributor Performance: Recognize the
Leaders, Push the Laggards
Page 17
Ten Tips: Measuring Distributor
Enthusiasm for Your Brand!
Page 25
10 C’s – Cooperation Model
Page 36
How to Win 2022 – Ten Tips
Page 43
Currency Exchange – Tough Tactics
for Tumultuous Times
Page 50
Retailer Annual Business Review
Page 58
“Best in Class” Distributor Standards
Page 80
Contacting New Distributor Candidates
Best Practices
Export managers spend
our lives working with our
international distributor
networks. Our days are
filled with meetings, emails
and phone calls discussing
shipments, new items, and
promotional activity. There
is a definitely a “science” to
our methods for partnering
with distributors.
Export Solutions’ Distributor
Management Guide seeks
to capture strategies,
techniques, and templates that we use to
build international businesses. Much of
the material will be familiar, if not
forgotten for many export managers.
Our Distributor Management Guide serves
as a reference tool for all export
managers and a gentle reminder of good
ideas that work.
These insights represent Best Practices
from some of the 400 projects I've
completed across Europe, Asia,
Middle East, and the Americas. Export
Solutions’ newsletters and handbooks
represent the collective thinking of
more than 9,900 export managers and
government trade groups that form my
network. I try to learn something new
from every company that I work with
and every distributor that I meet. Like
our ideas? Contact us to take your
international business to the next level.
3 “Distributor Respects what the Brand Owner Inspects.”
3 “What's Measured is Treasured.”
3 Judge distributor success by in-store visibility for your brand,
not only containers purchased.
3 Visit stores independently without your distributor to observe
realistic market conditions.
3 How much money does a distributor make for servicing your brand?
3 Track the number of countries where you have the #1, #2, or #3 brand,
not the total countries you sell to. No one is impressed if you sell to
70 countries, but your volume totals 1-2 small shipments per year in
most of them.
Greg's Guidance: Distributor Management
Distributor Management Guide
How can you take your business to the next level? Export is not
easy and managers are constantly challenged to create miracles.
Game-changing results demonstrated by sales increases of
20 percent, 50 percent or more require aggressive strategies,
not just a repetition of last year’s promotion program.
Read Export Solutions’ 12 tips (20 percent more than 10 tips!)
for driving exceptional results.
1. Big Bet – Focus Country
Pick one mid-size country where you have a decent business,
but significant potential to grow. Test a “heavy-up” marketing
investment program. Invite the distributor to visit your
headquarters to meet senior management and secure
commitment for delivering the “stretch” plan.
2. Dedicated Brand Manager at Distributor
Fund a dedicated brand manager “in house” at your distributor.
This person should maintain a dual reporting relationship to the
distributor and you. Your exclusive manager will immediately
identify issues (and solutions) and supply laser focus against
priorities. Allocating a budget for a “junior” brand manager
may pay out.
3. Mergers and Acquisition
Consider buying a local category competitor. This may increase
your scale and provide access to resources such as factory or a
direct sales team. “If you can’t beat them, buy them.”
4. E-Commerce Focus
E-commerce represents a different sales channel. We’ve viewed
cases where a brand is a “sales hero” in e-commerce, but not
available through conventional supermarkets or pharmacies.
E-commerce sales may be highly incremental.
5. Costco Global Deal
Costco ranks as a global retailer, with 2022 sales expected to
reach around $150 billion. Costco operates 770 stores, including
245 high volume outlets outside the USA. Costco loves exclusive,
“mega pack” offers and can purchase large quantities centrally
for the USA or certain international regions.
6. Celebrity Endorsement
Millennials are glued to their phones, waiting for the latest
news to cross their Instagram feed. Hire a local agency to snare
celebrity endorsements or mentions from popular bloggers.
7. Drop Your Price
How much incremental volume would you generate with
a 20 percent price drop? 30 percent? In some cases, your
distributor will share or co-fund a meaningful price reduction.
The incremental sales and fatter market share may represent
a good return on investment.
8. Co-Promotion
Link with a famous local brand in an adjacent category.
Challenge your distributor to offer a group promotion with
several of his brands. I have observed promotions where you buy
one brand with a higher price point and another brand (could be
yours) is given away free and the other manufacturer reimburses
you for your wholesale cost.
9. Sales Contest
Everyone loves a sales contest! Feature an expensive prize like
a trip to a resort destination or a big screen television and watch
your reps sell like crazy.
10. Local Co-Packer
In-country production may translate to more competitive prices
by avoiding duties and dealing with local cost inputs. In other
cases, consider shipping in bulk and packing finished goods
on site.
11. LTO – Limited Time Offer Pack
Create a special pack with vintage labeling or celebrating a local
sports event. I thought that the “Share a Coke” campaign with
personalized bottles was outstanding.
12. Monthly Market Visit
Most export managers rely on periodic visits to measure
distributor progress. This prevents a “deep dive” into the issues
and familiarity with your brands performance outside the capital
city. Select a country like Saudi Arabia, Peru, Philippines or
Malaysia where visit frequency can impact results. “A distributor
respects what the brand owner inspects.”
Twelve Tips: Generating Game-Changing Results
Looking for Good Distributors?
Export Solutions’ database covers
9,200 distributors in 96 countries.
Distributor Performance: Recognize the Leaders, Push the Laggards
The start of a new year is an appropriate time to review distributor performance. This process starts with the evaluation of the usual
metrics such as shipment results, market share, and success delivering new item placement. Normally, distributor performance ranges
across the spectrum from outstanding results delivered by top distributors to under-achievers who fail to meet their shipment budget.
Each scenario warrants a different approach in terms of managing for the future.
Distributor Segmentation Analysis
A valuable exercise is to segment your existing distributors into
the three groups: Leaders, Performers, and Laggards. Look at
the organizational models of your “Leaders” and Laggards.”
Are there consistent threads between the business specialization
of your distributor network? For example, do you find that your
“Leaders” are all Large Distributors (versus small), Big Brand
Distributors (vs. niche), Category/Ethnic specialists (vs. all types
of Food), technologically savvy versus “old school?” A similar
analysis should cover your “Laggard” distributors. Are under
performers small organizations that fail to meet your
requirements? Or alternatively, large distributors where your
brand is too small to gain sufficient attention? Your analysis
may reveal that one type of model works well for large or
adjacent countries while another approach works best for
smaller or remote countries. Look for the trends!
Lessons Learned
Completing the distributor segmentation exercise described
above should yield some important conclusions on the best
partner models to pursue for your brand. For example, an Italian
manufacturer of candy may confirm that his best performing
distributors are international confectionery experts, versus
distributors specializing only in Italian products. On the other
hand, an ethnic Asian food producer may find that the best
candidates to represent his brand are Asian channel specialists
versus distributors that represent all types of fine food categories
such as Tea & Olive Oil.
Next Steps
Honor your leaders and drive them to higher levels. Recognition
such as Distributor of the Year, visits with your company CEO,
or requests to deliver a presentation on their “success story” are
inexpensive motivators. “Laggards” impact our own ability to
achieve our personal objectives. We often like the people who
work at “Laggards”, but at times, you must act to protect the
long term interests of your company and pursue a change in
distributors. It is important to recognize that all companies have
distributors that are “Leaders” and “Laggards.” Proactive attention
to fix the “Laggards” will only improve your results versus
suffering through another year with a poor performing partner.
Export Solutions Can Help
Our industry leading database has been used by more than
3,000 brands to locate partners in 96 countries. This includes an
average of 85 unique distributors per country. There are always
many alternatives to consider in every country when you have
access to the Export Solutions database.
Export Solutions serves as a consultant to European and
American brands of all sizes. Our work includes analysis
of distributor networks and development of strategies for
motivating, measuring, and rewarding distributors. Export
Solutions has helped companies identify, interview, and sign
distributors on every continent. Contact Greg Seminara at
gseminara@exportsolutions.com to discuss your project.
Our motto is “Spend time Selling to Distributors vs. Searching
for Distributors.”
Distributor Segmentation
Results Next Steps
20% of total
Shipment increase of 10% or more.
Growing Market Share.
Innovative Strategies.
Recognition: Public & Financial.
Invest in team generated ideas.
Share learning with other markets.
60% of total
Shipments + 5% and in-line with
overall market growth.
Consistent results over many years.
Support current growth trajectory.
Challenge to reach “Leader” status.
20% of total
Flat/declining shipments.
Poor results for 2+ years.
Low energy/innovation.
Probation status for existing partner.
Evaluate different representation options.
All markets have alternatives!
I admit it: I like big distributors.
They feature more critical mass which
allows them to invest in people and
technology. Retailers and large
distributors are “co-dependent,” leveling
the playing field. Also, big distributors
get paid first during financial crisis
and usually offer better multi-channel
coverage and retail services. However,
many small/mid-size brands feel lost at
a big distributors, securing mediocre
results and failing to access the massive
distributor’s resources. Listed below are
Export Solutions Ten Tips for “Getting
Better Results with Big Distributors.”
1. Develop a Personal Relationship
With Your Distributors CEO
Call him a few times per year. Invite him
to dinner or a high profile sporting event
when you are in town. Send him a good
business book. Stay top of mind.
2. Focus on 2-3 Priorities
Provide a limited number of specific,
measurable objectives that are critical
to the delivery of your annual business
plan. Many companies bombard their
partners with a myriad of priorities,
forms, and requests diluting focus.
Instead position communication,
reporting, and activities in context
of the 2-3 tasks that must happen.
3. Invest in Distributor Sponsored Events
Large distributors offer the possibility
of co-promotion with their other brands.
Frequently, a mid-size brand may be
able to gain promotional activity at a
reduced cost due to the scale of their
distributor partner.
4.Evaluate Your Distributor Brand Manager
Your distributor brand manager is your
primary point of contact. If your business
is not growing, this could signal a need
for a change in brand manager. Two
scenarios exist. In some cases, you may
have a senior brand manager with too
many brands and no time for you. In
these cases, it may be better to shift to
a junior brand manager with more
bandwidth. In other cases, your contact
may be too junior, with limited
organizational clout to get things
done. In this example, you may fare
better by changing to a more veteran
brand manager.
5. Spend Time With
the Field Representatives
I am an advocate of escaping distributor
conference rooms for the hustle of the
stores. Spend time with the sales
representatives visiting their customers
and stores. The field team is frequently
ignored by export managers, but serves
as the engine of the distributor. Take
them to lunch, listen to their problems,
understand their business, give them a
gift with your company logo and they
will be your dedicated warriors for life.
6. CEO Market Visit
Invite your CEO or other senior
executives to visit the market. Distributor
CEO’s love to “rub elbows” and solve
the world’s problems together. You’d be
surprised at the number of market issues
that will disappear in advance of your
CEO visit. It’s also a good idea to invite
your technical experts in information
technology or supply chain to visit.
Big distributors love to learn best
practices from their overseas suppliers.
7. Create a Distributor Advisory Council
Invite a select group of large distributor
CEO’s to advise your company on
international development. Meet twice
per year a year, with at least one event at
a resort location. This allows your large
distributors to build relationships with
your senior team in an intimate setting.
All members of your Distributor
Advisory Council will achieve their
annual objectives!
8. Sales Contest
Create some excitement with a sales
contest for the entire distributor
team.Make it fun and structure it to
maximize winners. Find a way to include
all the “non-sales” people if you can.
9. VIP Visit to Corporate Headquarters
Treat your distributor as a VIP at
your corporate office. This trip creates
a memorable bonding experience and
a chance for you to serve as a good host.
Take the distributor to a new product
development laboratory and organize
a meal with your CEO or executive
officers. Make him feel like a member
of the family.
10. Distributor Awards
Recognize your high performing
distributors with an award. This could
be Distributor of the Year or for achieving
$1 million in sales or for 15 years of
partnership. Some companies sponsor
smaller awards for key account manager
of the year in each market and retail
representative of the year. Publicize the
event by awarding a plaque, hold an
awards luncheon, take photos and share
a press release of the celebration.
In most cases, large distributors have
achieved scale through years of hard
work and success. Most suppliers
maintain a mix of large and smaller
distributors. Veteran export managers
will confirm that good results are possible
with distributor organizations of any
size. The key is to align yourself with a
committed partner who loves your brand
and is delivering shipment growth
consistent with overall market trends.
Ten Tips: Getting Better Results with Big Distributors
Are Distributors Interested in Your Brand?
High Interest Low Interest
Email Response
Immediate reply Delayed or no reply
CEO Engagement
Active participation Delegated to middle management
Scheduling Meeting
Flexible and easy Difficult. Conflicts.
Airport/Hotel Pick-Up
Offers to pick you up Take a taxi!
Meeting Presentation
Tailored. Prepared for you. Standard presentation
Category Research
Obtains data None
Competitive Review
Shares photos: store sets Informal comments
Store Visits
Organized/led by CEO Office meeting only
Obtains and tries samples Waits for you
Team Participation
3-6 people at meeting One person
Cell Phone
Shares private number Email address only
Addresses key issues No questions
Meets due dates Delays
Post Meeting Follow-up
Immediate and frequent None
Proposed Plan
Detailed and fact based Brief topline
Results Winner Second place?
I have conducted hundreds of distributor interviews for multinational companies: P&G, Nestle, General Mills, Duracell, Lindt, Tabasco,
Barilla, J&J, etc. Distributor candidates all claim enthusiasm and high interest in your brand. See Export Solutions’ checklist of clues to
measure true distributor interest level.
30 Ideas to Help your Distributors
1. Trade Promotion
Share Best Practice Trade Promotion concepts
16. Innovation
Launch new items with successful track record
2. Celebrate Success
Distributor of the Year Awards
17. Sales Contest
Fund contest to incent and motivate distributor team
3. Category Expert
Provide fact based trend updates
18. Thank You Letter
Letter of recognition for team to distributor CEO
4. Logistics Service Level
Target 98% on time, complete orders
19. Event Sponsorship
Support distributor events, especially retailers’ charities
5. Store Check
Periodic visits to understand “retail reality”
20. Distributor Workload
Work proportional to distributor income
6. Billback Reimbursement
Prompt (30 days?) payment of distributor invoices
21. Price Increase
Provide fair lead time for price increases
7. Distributor CEO
Regular (quarterly?) checkpoint web meetings
22. Reference
Write testimonial or volunteer to serve as reference
8. Response Time
Earn reputation as “quick responder”
23. Training
Create Zoom training session for sales team
9. Marketing
Support distributor’s ideas. Invests in creative programs.
24. Portal
Create Portal with presentations, brand facts, digital tools
10. Customers
Do not deal directly with distributor’s customers
25. Social Media
Corporate experts available to help/share content
11. Reports
Stick to basics: sales, forecast, inventory, listing maps
26. VIP Trip Your Headquarters
Introduce distributor to your senior executives
12. Market Visits
Visit, but not too often
27. Samples
Support large sampling programs
13. Team Building
Create team relationship: finance, logistics, administration
28. Corporate Functional Experts
Provide distributor access to your corporate experts
14. Distributor Profit
Respect that a profitable distributor is a healthy distributor
29. Consumer Research
Conduct local research for consumer insights
15. Syndicated Data
Invest in Nielsen data
30. Create Culture of Success
Achieve joint business targets
Distributor 2022: New Skills for New Times
Priority Comments
Treat as major channel, not niche.
Social Media
Hire digital marketing team, link with local influencers.
CEO Engagement
Regular Zoom calls with overseas brand owners.
Promote young, energetic spirit. Embrace change and new channels.
Category Specialization
Laser focus on core categories vs. products in every aisle of the store.
Use Zoom tools for regular training events with brand owners.
Hire under 30's for social media and e-commerce sales roles.
IT Investment
Upgrade platform: E-commerce, retail reporting, sell out data.
Cost to Serve
Measure profitability by brand and customer.
Realign based upon 2022 reality.
Market Your Distributor Brand
Promote your distributor brand to leading
companies in your core categories. Export Solutions can help!
Aggressive investment in this A+ tool. Explore new sampling vehicles.
Invest in a “Best in Class” web site. Create modern company profile.
Incorporate e-commerce metrics: Page 1 results, consumer feedback, etc.
Brand Managers
Reward creativity and marketing excellence, not paperwork completed.
Promote meal solutions, not just brands.
Be positive. Think, “why not?”
Results Exceed expectations everyday.
Export Manager 2022: New Skills for New Times
Priority Comments
Treat as major channel, not niche.
Social Media
Create content library for distributors to “plug and play.”
Management Engagement
Zoom with distributor leadership team: CEO, CFO, VP Sales, etc.
Promote young, energetic spirit. Embrace change and new channels.
Category Specialization
Share category trends. Deliver product innovation, not “me too.”
Use Zoom tools for regular distributor training events.
Make your corporate functional experts available to your distributor team.
IT Investment
Upgrade platform: Brand portal, syndicated data, shipment status.
Cost to Serve
Measure contribution to distributor profit.
Look at pricing and margin vs. agreement.
Marketing Your Brand
Invest to adapt your global marketing plan to local conditions.
Aggressive investment in this A+ tool. Explore new sampling vehicles.
Invest in a “Best in Class” web site. Robust export resource page.
Monitor pricing/assortment at retailer web shops.
Incorporate e-commerce metrics in your distributor scorecard.
Brand Managers
Demand young digitally savvy brand managers.
Promote meal solutions, not just brands. Look for co-promotion partners.
Be positive. Think, “why not?”
Results Exceed expectations everyday.
Americas Favorite Brands
Executive Board
Export Solutions Smuckers Tabasco
Greg Seminara, CEO Danny Berrios, President Megan Lopez, Vice-President
General Mills Sun-Maid
Eric Saint-Marc Carsten Tietjen
Advisory Board
Bazooka Candy Blue Diamond Bob’s Red Mill
Santiago Ricaurte Dale Tipple Jan Chernus
Bush Beans Campbells Church & Dwight
Dave Bauman Julio Gomez Arun Hiranandani
Ferarra Candy Heartland Idahoan
Daniel Michelena Tom Theobald Ryan Ellis
Johnsonville Sausage Kao USA Keurig Dr. Pepper
Cory Bouck Julie Toole Billy Menendez
Mizkan Reynolds Welch’s
Noel David Chris Corey Marc Rosen
19 Companies | 200+ Top Brands | $80 Billion Combined
View our activities for export managers – www.usafoodexport.com
Distributor Supplier Relations
Managing the New Normal
Actitivity Old School New School
Customers Mass Supermarkets Omni Channel
Mom: Whats for? Dinner Breakfast, Lunch
Sales Team Over 50’s Under 30’s
E-Commerce Channel Niche Mass
Assortment Limited (supermarkets) Unlimited (e-com.)
Retail Conditions Store visits Web shop checks
Business Management Sales targets Profit targets
Distributor Expertise Generalists Specialists Category, Channel
Business Manager Brand Manager Idea Generator
Check Point Conferences Telephone calls Teams/Zoom
Overseas Supplier Visits Monthly/Quarterly Quarterly/Annually
Brand Presence Shelf Visibility Page 1 results (e-com.)
Distributor Logistics Delivery by case Delivery by unit (e-com.)
Recipe Ideas Your brand only Total meal solutions
Training Annual meeting Webinar (anytime)
Consumer Marketing Mass via multi media Targeted and digital
Brand Information Email to distributors Online portal
Pricing: Distributor Calculation “Closed Book” “Open Book”
Trade Shows Visit in person Hybrid:Virtual and in person
Foodservice Restaurants Home Delivery
Forecasts/Reports Monthly “Live,” real time
Results-Expectations Achieve your Objective Achieve your Objective
“The shelf doesn’t lie!” Why are you
surprised when a distributor misses their
sales numbers and you perform a few
random retail checks and the stores look
awful? Or your “star” distributor proudly
brings you to supermarkets where your
brand’s presence looks better than the
sample display you built in your
headquarter office?
A classic question is “how do you
determine a good store from a bad store?”
Some multinational leaders feature well defined shelf guidelines for positioning and
placement and the pursuit of a “perfect store.” A more common practice is for an export
manager to share a pretty photo of a sample shelf layout, created by the marketing
department. A few general objectives are supplied, but no formal training, sales rationale
or KPI measures.
“Is the Store a 10?” is a tailored program from Export Solutions that succeeds in
providing simple shelf standards and a methodology so that every member of a
distributor organization will be crystal clear on store level performance expectations.
Basically, each store is graded with points awarded for assortment, shelf space, shelf
positioning, pricing, and off-shelf display.
Listed below are key elements of developing a “Is the Store a Ten?” program for your
distributor teams.
1. Develop Clear Standards
Award points based upon a “physical count” of authorized items or shelf facings
or answers to a “yes or no” question. Example: Is there a secondary display?
Create a simple 10 point scale, where a “1” is poor and a “10” is the best.
2. Align With Key Account and Retail Sales Teams
This initiative is best explained to key influencers in the distributor organization in-store.
Meet with them at a supermarket and discuss program execution for their customer or
market. The program will fail if you only discuss it with a brand manager or distributor
CEO at the office.
3. Conduct Training Session
Share the program with the entire retail team. Provide a rationale and sales facts for our
objectives. Provide FAQs on common questions or issues. Role play. Launch a “Is the
Store a 10?” shelf drive with prizes. Establish clear KPIs.
4. Measure Improvement: Today a “5”…Tomorrow?
It is likely that early scores may be closer to a 5 than a perfect 10. This is okay
in most cases. The goal is to incorporate a cultural shift in evaluating stores and
capture improvement
5. Planogram Serves as the Official Record
I love the distributors that flood us with photos of great store layouts. I swear
that sometimes the image is the same display taken from several different angles.
Validate performance with a copy of the approved planogram or schematic.
A 2022 objective for all is to escape the boredom of hot conference rooms to spend more
time witnessing retail reality. Export managers are paid on container sales, but this
represents only warehouse inventory. A store shelf is where export dreams are translated
to retail revenues. Contact me to discuss implementing “Is the Store a 10?” for your
Greg Seminara
“Spend Time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”
Is the Store a 10?
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
Brand owners demonstrate significant due diligence in selecting
a new distributor. This includes lengthy negotiations with the
distributor’s owner and development of a marketing plan with
their senior management. Typically, you sign a contract and then
they introduce you to “John” (example), a 30 year old Brand
Manager who will be your first point of contact. In reality, most
brands are in daily contact with “John,” but do little up front to
evaluate, select, or define “John’s” role in building your business.
Role Definition
Normally, the title of Brand Manager is assigned to your primary
point of contact at the distributor. This person serves as the
central switchboard of all elements regarding your brand’s
business at the distributor. Problem solving, logistics issues,
promotion planning, and chasing payments are just a few of
the everyday tasks assigned to the Brand Manager.
Can your Brand Manager “Move the Organization?”
A key issue is the seniority of the person assigned to your
brand. Are you working with a top manager who has a close
relationship with the CEO? Or are you working with a junior
person who works hard, but basically maintains the flow of
paper? In most cases, I look for a person that commands the
respect of the distributor organization. Many distributors have
multiple brand managers, all lobbying for share of voice from
the team. “Best in Class” Brand Mangers possess the tenacity
to motivate the sales organization to achieve the results and
priorities required for your brand.
Brand Manager workload is always a key issue. A Brand
Manager may be shared by 3-5 brands. This approach may be
acceptable if you are a niche brand and you are achieving desired
results. On the other hand, it is frequently preferable to secure
a dedicated Brand Manager who spends 100% of their time
working on your business. Exporters need to recognize that
Brand Managers cost money, so your contact’s workload is
directly proportional to the income generated by your brand.
Marketing Versus Sales Background
Brand Managers typically come equipped with a marketing
degree. This background is helpful if your brand requires a
“classic marketer,” combining creativity with deep focus on
the consumer. In other situations, Brand Managers with sales
expertise prove to be adept at participating at key account sales
calls and understanding the best methods for working with the
sales force.
Do you like your Brand Manager? Most companies spend
extensive time working with their distributor Brand Manager
contact. You must be aligned and develop a healthy working
rhythm. This can be difficult, as you share common objectives,
but report to separate bosses and perhaps different incentives.
In many cases, a brand owner develops a strong personal
relationship with their brand manager. This can be unhealthy
if they like their contact, but let this relationship continue even
if results are poor.
People Power: Next Steps
A strong Brand Manager serves as your “Brand Advocate” at
the distributor. Export managers need to include assessment of
their potential Brand Manager as part of the Distributor selection
process. Ask “Who will be my day to day contact? Why? Other
choices?” Avoid “paper pushers” that are nice people and can
complete forms but offer few new ideas, complain about being
overworked and fail to capture the attention of the sales force.
Winning Brand Managers bring energy, new ideas, and results
to your brand. Recognize Brand Managers who maintain the
skill set to take your annual plan, add creative ideas appropriate
for their market, and drive the sales organization to deliver
the results!
People Power: Distributor Brand Managers
Greg’s Guidance: Export Strategy 2025
3 What are your Lessons Learned?
3 What are your Core Competencies?
3 Which countries offer exceptional growth for your category?
3 How much is your company willing to invest? Marketing, People, Promotion
3 What will our organization need to do differently?
3 What are realistic measures and benchmarks?
Every exporter has countries where
their brand performance lags far behind
expectations and market potential. This
appears as a serious issue when the poor
results are in a large strategic country like
the USA or China. The first step to fixing
the situation is to admit that you have
a problem. Too many times, export
managers loyally cling to their plan and
existing distributor with hope that “next
year will be better.” The likelihood is that
sub-par trends will continue without
intervention. Remember, it’s your quota
and job that suffer due to lackluster
results in a country. Listed below are
Export Solutions’ 10 Tips on action steps
for under performing countries.
1. Look in the Mirror
Chances are that your current brand
proposition is wrong for the country.
Your product sales are a reflection on
buyer and consumer response to your
product range. An underqualified partner
does not help, but is usually just part of
the problem.
2. Research Consumer Habits
Conduct category research to understand
why consumers in a foreign country do
not appreciate your brand like they do
“back home.” Category habits and
development vary widely, particularly
around food products. Recently, I
confirmed several examples where Asian
consumers demonstrated little interest in
certain Western style foods (although
everyone loves candy and snacks!).
3. Investment Level
Many poor performers suffer the classic
issue of insufficient funds to invest in
marketing and trade programs. There is
a cost of doing business everywhere and
the investment requirements can be huge
in a place like China or the USA. Best bet
is to break down the country into smaller
areas and focus on targeted investments
with high potential, regional retailers
where your brand has a higher probability
of success. Avoid the attraction of large,
national retailers where you realistically
cannot support the business. Don’t expect
miracles without basic investments in
marketing and trade promotion.
4. Establish and Track In Store KPI’s
Many exporters focus primarily on
monthly shipment numbers. Shipments
represent the ultimate scorecard, but we
strongly advocate the implementation of
in-store metrics. This process starts with
major account
listing maps,
tracking your SKU
level authorizations
for major customers.
The second step
is to launch and
measure in-store
presence guidelines.
How do you judge
a good store from
a bad store?
shipments are
a reflection
of consumer
purchases, not
inventory sitting in a distributor’s
warehouse. “What’s measured
is treasured.”
5. Spend a Day at Retail With
Your Distributor Executives
We all spend too much time in comfy
meeting rooms sharing PowerPoint
presentations with optimistic plans.
Dedicate time for retail with the
distributor executive team. Visit stores
at random, picking an area on the other
side of town from the distributor’s office.
Create a store check sheet to capture
observations such as shelf space,
promotions, and competitive activity.
Speak to aisle clerks and store managers
to get “street smart” on your product
and category performance.
6. Secure Direct Buyer Feedback
Every distributor should maintain
excellent trade relations with at least one
of his key accounts (if not all!). Schedule
an appointment or a lunch with a friendly
buyer to secure his point of view. Try to
keep the conversation focused around
category dynamics and trends versus just
a request for more trade spending. Buyers
love to serve as “experts” and may
support you if you follow their advice.
7. Distributor Brand Manager
The Distributor Brand Manager serves
as our everyday contact and the conduit
to distributor resources. Problems may
relate to having an experienced brand
manager handling too many companies
or a junior brand manager, lacking the
clout to get things done with the busy
sales team. We all like our Brand
Managers, as they take our calls
and rescue us periodically, However,
sometimes it’s just not working and
you need a change.
8. Share Best Practices Adjacent Countries
Every distributor will be quick to point
out “How different their country is.” The
reality is that there are more similarities
between countries than differences.
Look at an adjacent country or one
with common retailers and share lessons
learned. This may represent a category
review, presentation approach or special
sales contest. Invite the brand manager
to visit a successful country or attend a
meeting where best practices are shared.
9. FaceTime in the Trenches
Distributors appreciate export managers
willing to contribute to joint resolution
of problems. Consider sending a company
employee to work for 3-6 months on
assignment at the distributor. Visit
quarterly or more frequently. Schedule
bi-weekly update calls. Better to focus
attention on fixing a high potential country
than regular visits to small countries
achieving their objectives. “Distributor
respects what the principal inspects.”
10. Partner Change
A distributor change is the last resort,
but sometimes partners outgrow each
other and are no longer a “fit.” Export
Solutions’ database tracks an average of
85 distributors per country, so you always
maintain options. Transition to a new
distributor involves business disruption
and even a temporary decline in
shipments. The good news is that
your new distributor will be motivated,
committed and anxious to make a
positive impression with a fast start.
The key is to manage the process with
dignity and open communication, so that
the terminated distributor is not surprised
by your actions.
Ten Tips: Action Steps for Poor Performing Countries
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Asia Europe Middle East Latin America
Australia Germany Israel Argentina
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Indonesia Netherlands Qatar Colombia
Japan Nordics Saudi Arabia Costa Rica
Malaysia Spain UAE Ecuador
Philippines United Kingdom North America Mexico
Singapore Africa Canada Panama
South Korea South Africa United States Peru
Call the Export Accelerator!
Contact Greg Seminara at greg@exportsolutions.com
to discuss your business development project.
A client asked me a good question.
This Export Manager stated that he
always achieved his shipment objectives,
sold his brand across all countries, and
maintained a pretty good group of strong
distributors. What strategies could be
implemented to drive his business to the
next level? My immediate response was
that this company needed to adopt the
rigor and discipline employed in hitting
their sales quota and apply this approach
to metrics around the causal factors that
drove in-store purchases. At Export
Solutions we call this methodology
“Next Level Business Management.”
Factory Sales = Warehouse Inventory
We are all focused on surpassing our
shipment objectives. In many cases,
we meet these expectations by shipping
inventory to our distributor or a
customer’s warehouse. True sales are
achieved when a consumer purchases our
product and the retailer needs to reorder
to replace store inventory.
Supermarket Shelves – Product Showroom
Supermarkets and other retailers serve
as the showrooms for our brands.
An attractive showroom, with well
displayed products and an invitation to
buy, encourages purchases. How do your
store showrooms look? How do you
measure a good store versus a bad store?
Introducing MAPS Metrics
MAPS is an acronym for Merchandising,
Assortment, Pricing and Shelf
Management. The basic concept of
Next Level Business Management is
to establish clear objectives, focus,
and tracking methodology around
the fundamental drivers of in store
performance. The theory is that by
improving MAPS performance, you will
improve in store sales turnover and force
sales replenishment throughout the
supply chain.
Assortment – First Priority
In-store presence can not be tracked until
an item has been authorized for sale at a
retailer. Our first tool and step is normally
centered on managing a one page listing
map. This allows you to track your all
items’ penetration at leading retailers.
You can establish a customer weighting,
by size, and a listing percentage reflecting
total market coverage. It is important to
understand what percent of a retailer’s
stores where you are authorized. I
remember the famous story of a British
brand whose partner claimed distribution
at Walmart USA. Further investigation
revealed them selling to only 45 of 3,570
Walmart Supercenters.
Shelf Management & Pricing
What does an ideal shelf set look like for
your brand? How much space do you
have relative to your category market
share? Are you on the eye level shelf?
Are you placed next to your prime
competitor if this is desirable? Is your
brand priced at parity versus a similarly
priced competitor? Is the price gap versus
private label within the targeted range?
Has the retailer applied an equal margin
across all of your line extensions?
These are all tangible measures that may
be tracked via a numeric response or
“yes” or “no” answer.
Quality Merchandising
Incremental sales are driven by special
investments in promotional activity.
Next Level Business Management
quantifies quality merchandising drivers
and assigns measures. Did feature ad
meet targeted price point? Was there a
display? How many cases were on the
display? Was the feature ad a “major ad”
or a small line mention? What percent
of your allowance or discount did the
retailer reinvest in a lower price? Was
there a secondary display or location in
the store? These are all critical elements
that can be tracked and evaluated.
“What’s Measured is Treasured”
“The distributor respects what the brand
owner inspects.” “What gets measured
gets done.” These are all famous slogans
with the same basic message: track
something and a distributor will try to
meet expectations. The basic idea is to
measure a distributor based upon more
than just shipment numbers. In general,
begin with metrics around Assortment,
and then move to other areas such as
Shelf Management, Pricing, and Quality
Merchandising where the distributor may
have opportunities. Do not inundate the
distributor with new metrics around
every aspect of their business.
Next Steps
Export Solutions has expertise
at deploying Next Level Business
Management programs with leading
international brands. We have the
experience of designing metrics for your
brands and sharing techniques for rolling
this program out to your sales force and
distributor teams. Contact us for help in
applying our Next Level system to your
export business.
Next Level Business Management
20 Tips to Accelerate a Mature Business
Activity Strategy
Creative Promotions
Retailer specific events. Offer fresh ideas.
Distributor Brand Manager
Upgrade talent. Secure “A” players on your business.
More profit through higher volume at lower price?
Country Manager
Hire local manager or assign HQ person for 3-6 months.
Local Production or Copacker
Lower cost structure with added complexity.
Brand Ambassadors
Hire team with “brand uniform” to sample at local events.
White Space – Distribution
Fill voids on retailer listing map: Top 10 customers.
Social Media
Partner with influencers. Targeted local investments.
New KPIs
New measures: Listing maps, shelf placement, etc.
E-commerce Development
Invest to lead in this emerging channel.
In-Store Visibility
Educate and measure team on in-store presence goals.
Sampling, Sampling, Sampling
Aggressive distribution of free sample size.
Distributor Team Linkage
Zoom/Teams contact with Key Account Managers, etc.
Launch NPD Innovation
Excite team to launch innovation “The Right Way.”
Distributor CEO
Treat CEO as VIP. Create special relationship.
Support local events and retailer charities.
Sales Contest
Excite and motivate retail sales team.
Alternate Channel Focus
Small shops, foodservice, duty free, drug stores.
High Spend Test
Will heavy up marketing or trade discounts drive sales?
Distributor Change
Motivated new team, high energy to solve old problems.
All your distributors express enthusiasm
and commitment for your brand. True
passion for your partnership is measured
by what distributors do, not by what they
say. Listed below are ten tips to consider
when measuring Distributor enthusiasm
for your brand.
1. CEO Commitment and Involvement
The CEO steers the distributor ship
and sets the tone for your business
relationship. Best in Class Distributor
CEO’s reach out via phone to touch base
periodically and spend time with you
when you are in town. They keep up to
date on your priorities and key issues and
ensure that his team is delivering good
service and results.
2. Responsiveness to Problems
Urgent situations erupt in every market.
Currency devaluations, product recalls,
or missed budget numbers require
immediate attention. What is the distributor
response time? Does the distributor share
your sense of urgency? How long does it
take to get problems fixed?
3. Customer Introductions
Most distributors maintain good
relationships with leading retailers.
Enthusiastic distributors are happy to
introduce you to the leadership of their
customers. These distributors will use
their personal relationships and “favors”
to benefit your brand.
4. Best People Assigned to Your Brand
The distributor functions as a team.
Every team has superstars and
developing players. How does the
distributor allocate “talent?” Are the
stars working on your business?
5. Web Site Prominence
A Distributor’s web site offers important
clues to distributor professionalism,
services, and core brands. How
prominently is your brand featured on
the distributors web site? Is a case study
using your brand results mentioned?
Is your brand logo listed at the top of
the page or buried at the bottom?
6. Distributor Visits to Your Headquarters
How often does the distributor travel to
your headquarters or factory? Does the
distributor have a relationship with your
CEO, vice president of international, or
other leaders? Many distributors are
interested in visiting companies based
in San Francisco or London, but true
enthusiasm accompanies meetings in
Chicago or Hamburg during the winter!
7. Creative Ideas
Distributors can be magicians at
developing “new ways to solve old
problems.” Good distributors bring
innovative ideas to adapt your plan
and funding budget to the local market.
How often does your distributor apply
their brilliant new idea to your brand?
8. Distributor Awards and References
Successful distributors proudly display
their awards in conference rooms and
lobbies. Is your award visible? I always
ask distributors for references from other
brand owners. Does the distributor use
your name as a reference or request a
testimonial from you on their performance?
9. Love Your Brand
I have written an entire article on getting
a Distributor to Love your Brand. There
are many ways to feel the love. Does the
distributor sales team wear the shirts with
your brand logo or use the pens that you
handed out at the last sales meeting? Is
the distributor able to secure a customer
meeting for you on one week lead time?
Are they happy to see you arrive or just
to see you depart?
10. Exceed Expectations Everyday
The most enthusiastic distributors exceed
your expectations everyday. This includes
shipment results in excess of overall
market growth and total organizational
support behind your new product
introductions. Enthusiasm is not
measured in words and weeks, but
in actions carried out over many years
by a Best in Class partner.
Ten Tips: Measuring Distributor Enthusiasm for Your Brand
Need a hand? Visit www.exportsolutions.com.
The classic industry question is: “How do you maintain
distributor focus on your company priorities once you leave
the market?” There is no easy answer, but a solution is to
encourage a distributor to “fall in love” with your brand and
company. Falling in love is based upon an attraction to a person
and enjoyment of spending time with them. The same feelings
can apply to a brand. I regularly witness super human efforts
by distributors for small and medium sized brands just because
of “Brand Love.” Listed below are Ten Tips to romance your
distributors to superior results.
1. Master Chef Endorsement
The first step is convince the distributor team to be passionate
consumers of your product and enthusiastic brand ambassadors.
For food products, invite all of the group to lunch at a popular
local restaurant. Pay a well-known chef to prepare a meal
featuring your products. Or cook lunch for them yourself.
For candy and snack brands, provide samples to share with
the distributor’s children’s sports clubs. Provide frequent
and generous samples to all of the distributor team.
2. Fun Sales Meetings
Every distributor has sales meetings for their entire company.
These are usually a repetitive drone of Powerpoint slides.
Why not hire an agency to create a fun presentation module
which may include audience participation, games, or costumes?
Or sponsor a local motivational speaker or training workshop
using your products as the case studies. Break the mold of
boring meetings!
3. Provide Great Customer Service
Respond to requests quickly. Ship complete containers to keep
the pipeline filled. Pay all bill-backs promptly.
4. Distributor Awards
Recognize your high performing distributors with an award.
This could be Distributor of the Year or for $1 million in sales
or for 15 years of partnership. Some companies sponsor smaller
awards for key account manager of the year in each market and
retail representative of the year. Publicize the event by awarding
a plaque, hold an awards luncheon, take photos and share a press
release of the celebration.
5. VIP Visit to Corporate Headquarters
Treat your distributors as VIPs at your corporate office.
This trip creates a memorable bonding experience and a chance
for you to serve as a good host. Take the distributor to a product
development lab and organize a meal with your CEO or
executive officers. Make him feel like part of the family.
6. Support Local Events and Charities
Creative distributors drive incremental sales through local
marketing events. Display a willingness to support their ideas
and invest in new programs. Events that sync with the
distributors (or retailers) special charity build substantial
goodwill and appreciation.
7. Annual Incentive Trip
Many companies sponsor trips for distributor executives who
attain their annual sales quota. Mid-size brands source added
focus by sharing the benefits of a good year by inviting achievers
(and spouses?) to trips in resort locations like Hawaii or
international cities such as Rome. Everyone works hard
to qualify and vow to return “year after year.”
8. Holiday Baskets
Send baskets or gift packs to distributor employees that include
your product and other adjacent holiday items. The idea is to
extend your brand’s relationship to your partner’s homes.
9. Distributor Advisory Council
Form a small elite group of distributors to advise your company
on international development. Meet twice a year with access to
your companies senior management. All members of the
Distributor Advisory Council will meet their sales target.
10. Treat Distributors as Your Best Customers
Be nice. Say “thank you” frequently. Send handwritten notes to
people to recognize a nice display or a fixed problem. Have fun
while you work.
Distributors may work with twenty brands or more, each
shouting for attention. Distributors support all their brands, but
there is no magic science to allocate time equally. Naturally, we
all spend more time and effort for the brands and people we like.
What can you do to make your distributors “Fall in Love?”
Ten Tips: Getting a Distributor to Love Your Brand
Need more information? Visit www.exportsolutions.com.
Export Lessons Learned Template
Why are Countries Leading or Lagging?
(Complete based upon your company performance)
Country Performance:
Measure: sales per capita
Brand Development:
Measure: market share
Biggest Opportunity
Measure: category size/growth
Promotion Effectiveness:
Tactics creating incremental sales
Distributor Performance:
Measure: sales increase,
How to be Distributor of the Year
Assessment Criteria Considerations
(10 = Best)
Results vs Plan, Market, Category • Reliable, 5 to 10% + growth
Retail Store Conditions • Brand presence exceeds market share
Brand Manager • “A” player, dedicated resource
Cost to Serve • Fair margin, based upon size, complexity
Omni Channel • Channel teams, e-commerce focus
Fun • Do you enjoy the people, country?
Financial • Prompt payments, accurate billbacks
Problem Solving – Response Time • Same day service, sense of urgency
CEO • Loves your brand, engaged
Pioneers New Business • From concept to cases
Supply Chain Management & Forecasting • Accurate, efficient
Customer Relations • Senior access at top retailers
Category Knowledge • Viewed as expert by buyers
Profitable Partner • Sells profitable cases
Analytical Skills: Shipments, Nielsen • Trends, opportunities, plan
Team (Finance, IT, Logistics) • Cross functional expertise
Digital Savvy • Social Media team, pioneers new tools
Reporting • On time, complete, accurate
Best Practices • Creative idea source for other markets
Cultural Alignment • Perfect fit with brand owner’s vision
Distributor Capability Assessment
Export Solutions established 15 assessment criteria to identify “Best in Class” performers as well as “under
achievers.” Many distributor relationships extend 10 years or more. Is your distributor network still a “good fit”
for your current business requirements? Template can also be used as New Distributor Reference Check form
Assessment Criteria Rating: (10 = Best)
Category Expertise/Critical Mass
Focus/Time Dedicated to your Business
Joint Business Plan Development, Execution, Delivery
Alignment with Brand Owners Vision. Relationship.
Cost to Serve (fair margin, extra costs)
Assortment/Shelf Space
Promotion Creativity, Effectiveness, and Efficiency
Key Account Relations (Senior level, buyer)
Leadership/Owner (engaged & committed to us?)
Brand Manager (seniority, clout,creativity)
Multi Channel, Multi Regional Coverage
Financial Stability, Payment Record
Supply Chain Management & Forecasting
Problem Solving: rapid response?
Sales Results versus Budget, Market, Category (CY, PY, 3 Years)
Does Your Distributor Network Need A Check Up?
Export Solutions Can Help!
Distributor Network Assessments
Motivational Speeches
International Strategy
Find Distributors in 96 Countries
Contact Greg Seminara at gseminara@exportsolutions.com or (001)-404-255-8387.
Exporters manage distributor networks extending to 20, 50, 70 countries or more!
Every company has a few distributors that under perform.
“Under achievers” prevent us from attaining our personal objectives.
Distributor Network Check Up
Independent assessment from Export Solutions
Establish methodology for ranking Best in Class distributors and “Laggards”
Supply strategies for recognizing top distributors
and upgrading the bottom performers
Benchmark external brands from your category
Practical and “action oriented” approach
Slotting allowances, listing fees or as the Irish say “Hello” money
are all real estate rental fees charged in advance by retailers for
access to their limited shelf space. Many retailers assign their
buyers “budgets” for this type of incremental fee income. Store
owners seek to obtain maximum productivity from each shelf
facing and fixed entry fees are a tactic to gain immediate income
from new products without an established sales history. At the
end of the day, it’s a cost of doing business. Our objective is to
allocate as little money as possible to listing fees to redirect
our investments to consumer awareness and trial generating
activities. Recapped below are Export Solutions’ Ten Tips on
minimizing listing fee payments.
1. Exclusivity
Some large retailers will waive listing fees in order to achieve
first in the market status with an exclusivity arrangement.
Normally, this extends for three to six months. Beware, you
may upset other customers who become “locked out” during
the exclusivity period.
2. Pay Fees Over One Year
This approach reduces your initial outlay and also increases the
likelihood that the retailer will keep your product on the shelf
for at least one year. This may also allow you to structure the
payment as a percent of case cost versus a “lump sum” payment.
3. Free Goods
Our net cost of “Free Goods” may range from 30-50% of a
product’s retail price to the consumer. The retailer recoups his
listing fee when the product is sold. Some retailers are hesitant to
accept this option, as a slow moving brand may force him to wait
to receive his money.
4. Approach “Non-Slotting” Fee Retailers First
Every country includes retailers and channels that do not
demand slotting fees. Create a success story with these customers
first. Your track record may validate the larger investment in
paying the fees at a bigger account or success may help you
negotiate more favorable terms.
5. Create All Inclusive Annual Plan
Ultimately, the retailer has many “profit centers” to reach their
internal financial targets. Customers respect a solid, year one
plan, with investments in their other programs like advertising,
sampling, shelf rental and display. You may secure your product
listings as part of your annual agreement.
6. Negotiate Reductions – Multiple Items
My experience is that many retailers have published standard
prices for listing fees. However, net payment often depends on
your distributor’s clout. Big distributors, representing
multinational’s and a wide variety of brands know the difference
between what is requested and what is really paid on high profile
brand launches where the retailer needs the new brand to be
competitive. The most frequent “discount” is receiving a reduced
fee for multiple items: example, paying a full listing fee on first
two items and receiving authorization for two extra items as part
of a group listing.
7. Retailer Entertainment
Most countries still permit buyers to socialize with suppliers.
The cost of a few tickets to a high profile sporting event is far less
than most listing fees. A VIP plane trip to view your factory or
your category in a “resort” country is another way to gain access
to the shelves without writing a big check.
8. Higher Everyday Margin
Total category margin is a key assessment metric for most buyers.
Some may consider a lower listing fee, if your brand delivers a
margin higher than the category average.
9. Distributor Contribution
Some “hungry” distributors may cover or co-fund listing fees.
There are options to “case rate” fixed fees into the distributor
margin calculation. Ultimately, distributors benefit from
increased sales and margin contribution from a new product
listing. However, many are reluctant due to short term contracts.
Most maintain policies related to brand owners retaining
100 percent responsibility for listing fees and consumer
marketing activities.
10. Beg! Claim Poverty
Buyers are human and realists too. They may “bend” in their
demands if they like your brand and know that you represent
a small company. Long term distributors can request the
occasional “favor” from a friendly buyer. Most retailers have
programs to provide “low cost” chances to entrepreneurial
new or local suppliers.
Ten Tips: How to Minimize Listing Fee Payments
Create Your Own
Export Library
All Guides available free at
in the Export Tips section.
Distributor Search Guide
Export Handbook
Selling to USA Handbook
Distributor Management Guide
Finance & Logistics
Export Treasure Chest
My Favorite Templates & Forms
People Power
Strong Teams Build Great Brands
Customer Relationship Assessment
All distributors claim strong relationships with their biggest customers. Below is Export Solutions’ template
for evaluating distributor key account relationships. Best way to evaluate distributor relationships? Your
company’s market share and volume growth at the customer versus the balance of the market!
Assessment Criteria Rating: (10 = Best)
Distributor viewed as an important supplier to the retailer/buyer
Open to bringing brand owner to customer meetings.
Ability to schedule buyer/CEO meetings outside the office.
Can negotiate standard listing fees and other program costs.
Pricing: access to price coordinator. Ability to make changes.
Shelf: access to decision maker. Space in excess of market share.
Merchandising Flier/Catalog: Ability to get prime feature space.
Relationship/access to retailer owners, senior executives.
Problem solving: rapid response? Emergency orders etc.
Payment terms.
Access to retailer movement data.
Category captain or “advisor” for my category.
Vendor awards?
Knowledge of retailers systems. “How to get things done.”
Sales results versus overall market and retailers internal growth.
1. Case
Manufacturer supplies a business case
confirming brand aspirations” for the
country: Key items in portfolio, estimated
base pricing, volume/market share
expectations, and investment model.
2. Category Review
Distributor supplies a local review
of category competitors, pricing,
and merchandising practices.
3. Capabilities
Distributor shares detailed organizational
capability and customer coverage.
Could include references from existing
suppliers represented. An important step
when there are two or more candidates
under consideration.
4. Commitment and Costs
What is the Year 1 Plan and Forecast?
Targeted listings, marketing activities,
launch budget and volume estimate
associated with the spending plan.
5. Calculation – Value Chain
Line by line, build up from port to retail
store shelf. Include currency assumptions.
6. Compliance
Highlight product registration and
label requirements. Typical timelines
for compliance?
7. Captain of Team
Who will be our day-to-day brand manager or
first point of contact? Which senior executive
will serve as our “Brand Champion?”
8. Contract
Options include formal contract, letter
of understanding, or handshake deal.
Begin this process early!
9. Consumer Marketing
What are planned activities to generate
consumer trial and repeat purchases?
Trade marketing, consumer marketing,
social media, etc.
10.Calendar /Close
Distributor supplies a detailed timeline
of all activities. When can we expect first
order and delivery to support launch?
Frequent checkpoint calls or meetings.
10 C’s – Cooperation Model
Looking for Good Distributors?
Export Solutions database covers
9,200 distributors in 96 countries.
Export Accelerator
Contact Us for Distributor Search Help in 96 Countries
Greg Seminara • greg@exportsolutions.com
“Spend time Selling to Distributors versus
Searching for Distributors
Why have Barilla, Pringles, Nature Valley, Starbucks, Duracell,
Nestlé, Tabasco, Pepperidge Farm, and other leaders used
Export Solutions as a distributor search consultant?
Powerful distributor network: owner of industry database
9,200 distributors – 96 countries
Professional 10 step due diligence process
Results! We make Export Managers’ lives easier!
Your new product launch is a big deal, comparable to the birth of
a child. The first days are critical if you want to raise a “healthy
brand.” Listed below are Export Solutions’ ten tips for launching
your company for the first time to a new distributor or
expanding through a new product introduction.
Firm Calendar
Distributor and brand owner should align on a “firm calendar.”
This includes dates for sales materials development, launch
meeting and key account calls. All dates are dependent on arrival
and customs clearance of the first order. No product, no meeting!
Get Ready
Allow adequate time for printing of point of sale materials
and development of key account presentation. In some cases,
translation or local adaptation of brand owner supplied tools
may be required.
Memorable Meetings
I still remember motivational meetings with themes around
boxing and magic. Create new memories with a special theme or
an external speaker. Off-site meetings contribute to making your
launch special, with an added sense of commitment. Have fun!
Mandatory Attendance
The distributor CEO, brand manager, and export manager must
all attend and have speaking roles. Best is to have one meeting
with sales and merchandising teams together. However, in some
cases, a follow up meeting may be required. Invite logistics,
finance, and customer service people to make it a “team effort.”
In-Store Objectives
Establish clear measures for in-store presence. This includes
shelf positioning, space allocation, pricing, and off-shelf
merchandising. Share a photo. What qualifies as a “good store”
versus a “bad store?”
Frequently Asked Questions
Prepare a list of potential questions and logical responses. Role
play with the team. Share a printed one pager with sample
answers to tough questions.
Samples, Samples, Samples
Provide generous quantities of samples for all distributor
employees to enjoy and take home. Prepare recipes if your
brand is a food product. Samples are your best advertisement.
Personal Goals
Each team member should have personal goals for your launch.
For a key account sales person, this could be acceptance of the
core product lineup. A retail merchandiser could be assigned a
target of a specific number of stores with displays or eye level
shelf placement. For the launch, focus on implementation goals
versus case shipments.
Key Account Calls
In many countries, large supermarket chains dominate sales.
Develop a personal strategy for each key account. What are the
buyers internal goals? How do we fit with the chains consumer
base and plans? Which chain “push” programs can we
participate in? Schedule a “lead call” with an easier key account
to get feedback that will help you with a tougher buyer. Invite
the export manager or distributor MD to participate in the sales
call if it will help.
Schedule a retail audit of stores to coincide with the expected
retail availability of product. Bring other people from the brand
owner’s company and have 2-3 teams auditing the market
against a specific set of goals. Visit secondary cities, not just the
stores around the distributor’s office. Recognize that conditions
will not be perfect and celebrate progress to date.
New Product Launch: Ready, Set, Grow – Ten Tips
Need more information? Visit www.exportsolutions.com.
Year One Scorecard Example
Brand owners and distributors enter new relationships with great expectations.
Most partnerships succeed, but some under deliver leaving both parties disappointed.
Export Solutions Year One scorecard helps both parties align on KPI’s.
Objective Goal Results
Shipments to Distributor
Distributor Sales to Customers
Top 5 Customers
Region: Sales Split by Area
Channel: Sales Split by Channel
Market Share
Listings: Top 5 Customers
Retail Pricing
Shelf Positioning
Shelf Space
Social Media
Manufacturer Investment
Brand Manager Performance
The Right Way New Country Launch
Retail buyers and distributors are receptive to brand launches from multinationals. Why?
Multinationals succeed, as they introduce new products “The Right Way.” Export Solutions recaps
30 components of launching “The Right Way.” Exporters create magic with limited budgets!
Winners check as many boxes as possible on “The Right Way” scorecard.
Product Retailer
o Meaningful innovation – not “me too” o Boost category sales, margin, and profit
o Consumer market research insights o Syndicated data (Nielsen) – category facts
o Technical confirmation of product differentiation o Invest in retailer “push” programs
o Reasonable retail price – premium (not sky high) o 4-6 high value promotional events per year
o Test market results – similar country or retailer o Retailer VP, distributor CEO at intro call
Marketing Excitement
o 360 marketing plan: TV, in-store, social, PR o Launch party – memorable location
o Sampling o PR, social media, trade press
o Social media o Celebrity endorsement
o Displays: end of aisle and shelf blocks o Distributor sales contest
o Special offers – retailer fliers o Donation to local charity
Team Scorecard
o Distributor – best in class, category expert o Year 1: invest; year 2: break even; year 3: profit
o Local manager – launch oversight o Sales volume (retail sell-out)
o Marketing, social media, PR agencies o Market share
o Brand/technical resource from headquarters o Retail availability (weighted distribution)
o Total distributor engagement: reps. to CEO o Year 2 commitment and enthusiasm
Export Solutions conducts over 100 distributor
interviews/meetings per year. Many distributors ask…
What are these big brands looking for? How do we prepare
a standout presentation? What will it take to win the business?
See our fifteen tips below.
1. Professional Communications: Frequent email communication
in advance. Send re-confirmations. Offer to help with hotel
reservation or pickup. Share mobile contact for emergencies.
2. Creative Welcome: Raise flag from visitor’s country or a banner
with brand name on it. Serve food paired with their brand.
Create immediate “wow!” Skip, if confidential interview.
3. Purchase Product Samples: Potential new brand and
competitors. Supply price for each item.
4. Participants: Owner/MD, sales, marketing, and potential
brand manager. All should have speaking roles.
5. Presentation – Page 1 Company facts: Founding date, sales
revenue, # employees, # field sales, warehouse size, key
categories and principals.
6. Category Sales Data: Try to obtain category sales data from
Nielsen or a leading retailer. Prepare basic analysis.
7. Category Photos and Pricing: Provide recent photos and
pricing from target retailers.
8. Retailer Margins: Share estimated retailer category margins,
cost of entry, and listing fee expectations.
9. New Principal Management: CEO involved in update calls,
retail tracking, and total team approach.
10. Retail Reporting: Demonstrate retail technology and reporting
if you have it. Share sample reports.
11. Warehouse Visit: Short inspection, if located on premise.
12. Social Media and E-Commerce: Share local updates.
Reinforce your capabilities with recent examples.
13. Case Study: Brand owner’s category or aisle. Results
and costs. Show photos of shelf and displays.
14. References: Testimonials are impressive. Executive contact
information from top five current principals represented.
15. Action Steps: Immediate CEO/MD follow up via email.
Deliver presentation stick with your company logo.
Distributors: Fifteen Tips for Winning the Big Brand Interview
5 Questions for Every Interview
1. Where do you see your company’s business in 3 years?
2. Tell me about best practices from a country where your brand
has a high market share. What strategies work well?
3. What characteristics do you see in your best performing
4. Are you open to distributor visit (plus customer?) to your
manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters?
5. How do you maintain category leadership?
5 Interview “Bad Practices”
1. Do not send Rolls Royce to pick up brand owner at hotel.
Do not laugh, it happened twice last year!
2. Skip company videos: sends old-school message.
3. Avoid speaking badly about other distributors. Be positive!
4. CEO should not handle entire presentation. Let the “workers”
who handle the day-to-day business speak.
5. No dinner invitation on first date: brand owners will prefer to
meet alone to discuss meetings. Many risks if meal does not
go well. Plenty of time for dinners if you win the interview!
Distributor Search Guide
Export Strategy Guide
Selling to USA Handbook
All guides available free at www.exportsolutions.com in the Export Tips section.
Export Scorecard Guide
New Distributor Cooperation
Model Guide
“From First Meeting to First Order”
Create Your Own Export Library
What Makes a Great Distributor CEO?
CEO Assessment
(10 = Best)
Achieves Joint Business Targets
• Committed and dependable.
Dedication to Your Business
• Knows details. Visits your HQ.
Willing to Invest
• People, technology, brand building.
Strong Customer Relations
• Senior contacts at top retailers.
Relationship With Brand Owners
• From export manager to CEO.
Response Time
• Same day to one week?
Thinks Like A Marketer
• Creative, brand building ideas.
Frequent Visits: Retail Stores
• Good grasp of retail conditions.
Problem Solving
• “Hands on,” responsive.
Compound Annual Growth Rate
• Flat to 10% or more.
Cost to Serve Transparency
• Detailed understanding of costs.
Celebrates Team Success
Awards, promotions, raises.
CPG/FMCG Background
• Senior level external experience.
Years of Service
• New to 20 years or more.
Local Industry Leader
• High profile in community.
Work Ethic
• Office time vs. overseas trips?
Information Technology (IT)
• Invests in “best in class” IT.
Ethical and Trustworthy
• Principled, respected partner.
Respects Manufacturer’s P & L
• Sells profitable cases.
Relationship: Entire Team
• Finance, logistics, adminstration.
I just returned from Central America where retailers such as
Walmart, Auto Mercado (Costa Rica), and Super 99 (Panama)
suffer from out of stock conditions due to direct import practices.
A retailer’s primary objective is to maximize sales, which is
tough to achieve if there are gaps on your shelf as you await
the next container from the USA. “Service” defines best-in-class
manufacturers like Coca Cola and distributors which maintain
local inventory and strong commitments to keeping in store
product showrooms “looking good.” Listed below are Export
Solutions’ Ten Tips why an international retailer should source
your brand from a local distributor versus waiting for a direct
shipment from your central factory.
1. Local Inventory: 24-48 Hour Delivery
Local distributors promise 24-48 hour delivery, instantly
correcting costly out of stocks. Direct import supply chains may
take up to six weeks for inventory replenishment. We have all
witnessed situations where a retailer allows 1-2 items to run out
of stock for weeks to wait to place a consolidated order or to
encourage sales of a size where they are overstocked.
2. Brand Building vs. Availability
Direct import brands look lonely on the shelf, without any
activation or promotion. I remember the case of Hidden Valley
Ranch, the leading USA salad dressing from Clorox. I was
thrilled when it showed up on the shelf of my Walmart in Buenos
Aires. However, I was one of a few homesick expats who knew
about Hidden Valley. Without support, the brand gathered dust
and was discontinued.
3. In-Store Merchandisers: Emerging Markets
In-store merchandisers or distributor appointed “shelf stockers”
represent an essential function across Latin America, Asia,
and the Middle East. Large distributors maintain armies of
merchandisers to fight for shelf space and brand presence for the
brands that they represent. Retailers typically offer “prefunctory”
stocking for direct import brands, with low level of compliance
versus agreed to terms. I recall a situation in Mexico for a leading
USA beverage brand. The retailer had complained about slow
rotation of the direct import brand. We checked stores and saw
that only 2 of 4 sizes were typically cut in on the shelf, with
items relegated to the bottom or top shelf, nowhere near
“planogram promises.”
4. Distributors: Local Category Advisors
Distributors understand local taste preferences and share trends
from other market customers. In emerging countries, normally
there is a preference for smaller sizes than the family packs
offered in USA or European supermarkets.
5. Problem Solving: Pricing, Shelf Tags and More
Success in the consumer goods industry requires focus on the
myriad of details from the factory to the store shelf. Without a
distributor, difficult to identify and correct routine problems like
incorrect pricing, missing shelf tags , and misshelved goods.
6. Promotions Drive Trial and Tonnage
Local distributors offer periodic promotions to stimulate sales.
Typically, this translates to price discounts, but can also include
sampling, banded packs, and joint displays. Direct import brands
usually sit on the shelf without the benefit of local activation.
7. Point of Sale Material and Stock Rotation
Emerging markets permit point of sale materials which
encourage sales. Distributors provide special display pieces
or trial size shippers. Merchandisers rotate stock regularly to
facilitate “first in, first out” movement.
8. Damaged, Expired Goods or Product Recall
Local distributors provide a valuable service on returned goods.
This allows a retailer to remove out of date or damaged products
for a credit. With direct imports, the sub-prime product lags
unattractively on the shelf, with no one focused on replacement.
9. Payment Terms
Distributors offer retailers 30-60 day payment terms. Smart
retailers fund their inventory from the “float,” buying and selling
goods before the payment is due. On direct imports, retailer
needs to tie up his money in inventory, in some cases paying in
advance and then storing goods until the unsupported brands
sell. Is this the best use of capital?
10. Retailers: Support Your Local Distributor Community
Distributors represent small/mid-size local businesses
which provide jobs to members of the community. Distributor
employees are shoppers too, likely to shop at customers that are
supporting their company.
Success: Create Total Country Customer Strategy
Export Solutions recommends dealing with a local partner
(distributor) who is capable of serving all market customers.
This allows you to optimize sales and maintain pricing
equilibrium. Retailers attempting to buy direct offer the
temptation of short term volume, but rarely translate to long
term brand building for the supplier.
Retailer Benefits: Purchase from Local Distributors
Coverage: 96 countries and 2,700 retailers
Drug Store
Natural Food
Club, Cash & Carry
Supplying profiles, store counts, formats,
news and info for Top 100 international
retailers plus all overseas branches
Example 1: Who are supermarket
retailers in Canada?
Example 2: How many stores does Loblaws
operate by banner, in Canada?
Search by Retailer NameSearch by Country
Combo Search
Search By Format
Retailer Search Made Simple
Canada Example
Why did you create the retailer database?
Export managers dedicate a lot of time
to researching countries, retailers and
preparing business plans. A standard
KPI measure is tracking product listings
for key customers. I believe that our
industry could benefit from a global
retailer database to instantly locate
retailers and their store counts in
96 countries. The retailer database
is a logical extension of our leading
distributor database which has helped
more than 3,000 companies build export
sales during the last 10 years.
What is your geographic coverage?
96 of top 100 GDP countries worldwide.
This includes most Asian, Middle Eastern,
and European countries. Our database
covers every country in the Americas.
In Africa, we cover South Africa.
What is your format coverage?
Excellent coverage of chain supermarkets,
hypermarkets, clubs, cash and carry,
and convenience formats. Solid initial
coverage of drug stores, natural food
stores, and e-commerce channels.
Our database does not cover
DIY/hardware, toy, office, liquor,
or sporting goods channels.
Retailer database: featured info
Profile – Retailers profile and link to their
internet home page.
Formats – Retailer’s stores segmented
by format and banner.
We track supermarkets, hypermarkets,
cash and carry, convenience stores,
discounters, drug stores, natural food
stores, and e-commerce retailers.
News – Latest retailers’ news. In some
cases (Asia), we substitute a link to the
retailer’s latest promotional flyer.
Financial – Many leading retailers are
publicly traded. A link is provided to
their latest financial results. We do not
offer estimated financial information for
privately held or family owned retailers.
How is your coverage of global retailers?
We offer total coverage for top 100 global
retailers. This includes all of their
branches and banners. Searchable!
Use filters to research Walmart, Costco,
Carrefour, Tesco, Metro, Casino presence
by country. Database covers retailer’s
total store outlets as well as a breakout
by banner and format.
What can I use the retailer database info for?
Obtain an instant snapshot of an
average of 24 retailers per country
for 96 countries.
Track presence of global retailers like
Walmart, Carrefour, and Metro AG.
Create country specific listing maps
where distributors measure brand
authorization by retailer.
Conduct home office based
international category reviews
and price checks from retailers’
e-commerce sites (not all retailers).
Prepare annual reviews and reports
with up-to-date information on
leading retailers and channels.
The database offers filters allowing you
to search by country, format, or retailer
name. You can also use a combination
of filters for your research.
Can I get a free sample of the retailer database?
Sure! Check www.exportsolutions.com for a
complete profile of United Kingdom retailers.
Do you provide retailer’s annual sales
or market share information?
Accurate annual sales information is
available through the financial link for
publicly traded companies. We do not
provide estimated financial information
for privately held and family owned
retailers. Channel blurring occurs
between supermarket, convenience,
e-commerce, and even natural food
operators. We do not provide market
share due to difficulty to accurately
isolate and define channel market share
information, particularly with so many
privately held retailers.
How accurate is the retailer data?
Export Solutions’ retailer database is
updated weekly, so information is highly
accurate. Retailer names, web sites, and
formats rarely change. This makes the
database 99% accurate at the company
level. New stores open every day,
resulting in store counts that may be
95% accurate. We intend to update store
counts on a regular basis.
How much does retailer database access cost?
An annual subscription to the retailer
database is $975. This supplies one year,
unlimited access to more than 2,700
retailers in 96 countries. Special offers
available for our distributor database
customers. Note: special pricing for
government trade organizations.
How do I access the retailer database?
Visit www.exportsolutions.com and click
the retailer database page. You can place
a subscription or individual continent
(i.e., Europe) into a shopping cart.
Register and check out via credit card.
The process takes two minutes and we
automatically send you an invoice.
About Export Solutions
Export Solutions was founded in 2004
and is based in Atlanta, Georgia in the
USA. Export Solutions serves as a leading
provider of business intelligence to the
food and consumer goods industries.
Our distributor database covers 9,200
distributors in 96 countries and has
been used by more than 3,000 clients.
Our Export Express newsletter has a
circulation of 9,900 and is viewed as an
important source of insights, strategies,
and templates for international
development. www.exportsolutions.com.
FAQ’s Retailer Database
Retail stores serve as showrooms for our products,
the destination where supply chain inventory is
translated to a sale. Leading multinationals such as
Unilever, Coca Cola, Mondelez, and Kellogg’s are
placing renewed emphasis on in-store execution
through “Perfect Store” initiatives. Basically,
perfect store programs seek to optimize supplier
and store sales through improved brand visibility
and an enhanced consumer shopping experience.
The concept of a Perfect Store or improved in-store
presence applies to manufacturers of all sizes.
Cultural Shift
Successful execution of Perfect Store programs
mandates a cultural shift.Today, most companies
exhibit laser focus on volume and headquarter
based product listings. This same attitude and
determination must be applied to key performance
indicators (KPI’s) on store presence for your brand.
This shift requires an organizational realignment
around roles and responsibilities, time allocation,
and performance measures and incentives.
Define Your Perfect Store
The first step is to ensure that each member of your sales team
is “crystal clear” on your brand’s in-store objectives. Create a
store conditions resource guide, including photos that can be
distributed or shared online. I’ll always remember a store visit
in Cordoba, Argentina when I was a sales manager for Clorox.
The distributor representative proudly brought me to his “best”
store. The store was not bad, but below objective because our
brand only commanded 50% of shelf space versus our 65%
market share. When I mentioned my disappointment, the
representative accurately claimed that “no one had ever shared”
this shelf objective before.
Focused & Fact Based
Perfect store programs should concentrate on your highest
volume and profit items, not every product in your range.
Establishment of Perfect Store criteria should be logical and
demonstrate that successful execution translates to increased
sales and profits for the retailer. Normally, manufacturers
share test data based upon similar store sizes or formats.
The Right Stuff
Mondelez speaks of four components to retail execution:
Right Assortment
Right Pricing and Promotion
Right Location
Right Displays
What attributes form the “Right Stuff” for your brand?
Secondary Placement
A recent project revealed that my client’s category was found in
seven distinct store locations. Sales grow exponentially through
placement in multiple store sections. Examples include off-shelf
displays, secondary shelf placement, or cross merchandising with
related products. Capture secondary placement in your Perfect
Store vision.
What’s Measured is Treasured
In-store KPI’s can be measured via mobile devices. Normal
tracking creates objectives that can be counted by a numerical
response or a yes or no answer. Core measures focus on items
available (assortment), retail pricing, share of shelf space, and
incremental displays. Distributors and export managers must
create systems to evaluate results and track progress just as we
do shipment performance.
Incentives & Excitement
Perfect Store programs require the same energy and excitement
as other strategic initiatives. Leaders have aligned compensation
bonuses to attainment of goals. Others have supported the
initiatives with contests and media support. Google “Perfect
Store” to see instructional videos from multinationals.
Emerging Market Weapon
Many emerging markets are transitioning from small urban
shops to modern retail. These countries offer greater flexibility
to make changes at store level than tightly controlled Western
markets. These new markets often serve as lead markets for
Perfect Store rollouts due to acceptance of point of sale materials
and ability to establish a firm foundation for the future.
Future – Amazon and Online Retailers
Amazon’s web pages represent a change in dynamics where new
brand visibility strategies may revolve around web placement
and cross promotions. What is the perfect store for an online
environment? The future is today.
Achievement of our sales targets requires a new attitude towards
in-store execution. Every member of your distributor network
should maintain a clear understanding of whether each store
is an A, B, C, or D or a Perfect Store and Why? Export Solutions
works with brand owners on a program called Next Level Sales
Management which creates specific measures for improving your
in store performance.
What is Your Perfect Store?
How to Win 2022 – Ten Tips
2022 will be challenging and everyone can benefit from
“new ideas.” Listed below are Export Solutions’ 10 strategies
to build your export business in 2022 and beyond.
Focus 5 Countries
A true measure of export success is relevant market share in large
countries like China, USA, Japan, Mexico or Saudi Arabia, not
selling small quantities to 50 or 100 countries. Each international
manager should select his global “Focus 5” countries and strive to
spend at least fifty percent of travel time in core countries. Regional
managers should adapt the same mantra for gamechanging results
at their top one or two opportunity countries.
China Strategy Renewal
Most brands have learned that China is not a country where
you can appoint a national distributor and visit a few times a
year. E-commerce represents most of industry growth and up
to 50% of sales for imported brands. Many companies appear
at a “10 Year Crossroads.” There is an urgent need to hire
“boots on the ground” in China to execute a multi-channel,
multi-region strategy.
Small Shops – Big Opportunity
Small stores represent 50% of sales or more in many emerging
market countries in Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa.
These stores are particularly relevant for impulse categories such
as beverages and confectionery/snack. Small shops are not a
focus for niche brands or start-ups.
Will e-commerce represent ten percent of sales by 2025?
Twenty percent? Who knows? We can all agree that it will be
bigger. Challenge each distributor to develop an e-commerce
plan. Share learning from your corporate office. Treat Amazon
as another “Global Customer.”
New Channels
My Summer Export Express identified 23 “alternate” channels
that could represent new customers. These channels tend to be
“less demanding” and more open to new brands.
USA – Multi Channel
USA based manufacturers routinely sell to ten channels or more.
Most adopt a matrix model meshing channel specific brokers for
supermarkets and foodservice with direct sales to Walmart,
Costco, and Drug customers. Overseas brand owners should
adopt the same approach to reach all USA channels and regions.
Listing Map
An up-to-date listing map and “white space” plan is the essential
one page template for every country
Is the Store a 10?
Can 2022 be the year for focus on improved in-store brand
presence? Brands (& distributors) own the tools and knowledge
to reach these objectives. The critical element is your focus and
execution of a formal shelf drive. Contact us if we can help.
Upgrade Distributor Network
Every company has distributors that are “under-achievers” or that are
no longer a good fit with the brands aspirations. Begin the “upgrade”
process early in the year to impact second half 2022 shipments.
Export Team
How can you redefine roles and responsibilities to obtain more
productivity from your export team? One idea is to appoint one
manager to focus on new country pioneering for a large country
as a special project or “stretch” assignment. Another concept is to
place a junior “company missionary” in a key distributor’s office
for a one year training assignment.Contact Export Solutions for
“new ideas to solve old problems.”
2022 Winning Strategies
Geographic Focus 5 Countries
China Strategy Renewal
Channel Small shops
E Commerce
Alternate Channels
USA-Multi Channel
Sales Execution • Listing Map
Is the Store a 10?
Organization Upgrade Distributors
Export Team
Channel Confectionery
Food/Grocery Beverage Non Food
E-commerce x x x x x
Meal Kits x x x
Ethnic – “Homesick” x x x x
Gift Basket x x x
Natural Food x x x
Gourmet, Deli x x x
Liquor x x
Farmers Markets x x
Gift Channel x x
Toy, Party Stores x x
Movie Theaters x
Hardware, DIY, Office x x x
Duty Free x x x
Fundraising x x
Theme Parks, Stadiums x x
Airlines x
Butchers, Fishmongers x x x
Coffee Shops x x
Military x x x x x
Department Stores x x
Kitchen Supplies x x x
Dollar, Close Out x x x x x
Discount Clothing
(Marshalls, TJ/TK Maxx)
x x
New Channels: Prime Prospects, By Category
Preferred Supplier Scorecard
Distributors deliver their best results for their favorite principals. How do you rank?
Supplier Assessment Considerations
(10 = Best)
Annual Sales Revenue • Percent of total distributor sales
Annual Profit Generated ($)
• Net sales times gross margin
Years of Service • New to 20 years or more
Compound Annual Growth Rate
• Flat to 10% or more
Supplier Investment Level • Zero to 25% of sales
Celebrates Success
Awards, dinner, thank you notes
Shares Best Practices
• Serves as category expert
Logistics Service Level
• Target 98% on time, complete orders
Visits Retail Stores
• Never to full day every visit
Reimbursement of Billbacks • 2 weeks to 3 months
Senior Management Relationship • None to long term partners
Export Manager Experience • New hire to 10 years or more
Response Time • Same day to one month
Supports Distributor’s Ideas
• Invests in local ideas
Good on Customer Calls
Avoids calls to customer favorite
Admin Requirements • Orders only to multiple reports
Supplier Visit Frequency • Never to weekly
Relationship: Entire Team • Finance, logistics, administration
Respects Fair Profit for Distributor • Healthy distributor is profitable
Achieves Joint Business Targets • Creates culture of success
Brand Manager Assessment
Your distributor Brand Manager represents your key day to day contact. Successful Brand Managers are good
partners and deliver results, not excuses. Is your Brand Manager an experienced veteran or new hire (rookie)?
Assessment Criteria Rating: (10 = Best)
Years industry/distributor experience
Years sales/commercial experience
Reports to owner or senior leadership team
Workload: dedicated or shared with many brands
Responsiveness: gets things done quickly!
Category knowledge: technical, competition
Analytical skills: shipment trends, Nielsen data
Problem solving
Develops creative promotions
Reports: accurate and on time
Enthusiasm for your company and the business
Participation on customer calls, store checks
Forecast accuracy
Influence distributor team: focus on your priorities
Delivers/exceeds shipment objectives
Analyze: Your Contribution to Distributor Profit
Export Solutions: 20 Factors Driving Distributor Profitability
Assessment Criteria
(10 = Best)
Annual Sales Revenue • Percent total distributor sales
Annual Margin Generated ($) • Net sales times gross margin
Distributor Percent Margin
• 10 percent to 50 percent
Brand Owner Investment Level
• Percent of distributor purchases
Distributor Margin Re-Investment
• Distributor promotion spending
Category Adjacency • Distributor portfolio synergies
Brand Market Share
• Niche versus market leader
Payment Terms
• Pre-pay versus 120 day terms
Safety Stock Requirements • Two weeks to four months
Typical Customer Order • One case to full truck
Shelf Life • Two weeks to five years
Case Cube/Case Cost • “Low cube, high case cost best”
# Brands/Items in Range
• “High sales, fewer items valued”
Logistics/Storage: Temp?
Ambient versus chilled
Damage/Expired Goods • None to 20% of sales
Category Competition
• Niche to highly competitive
Labor: Battle for Shelf Space
• None to intense fight
Brand Manager
• Shared or dedicated
Admin Requirements • Orders only to multiple reports
Manufacturer Visit Frequency
• Never to weekly
How often do you visit your distributor’s warehouse?
Brand owners should inspect their distributor’s warehouse
at least once per year and always before the start of a new
business partnership. Warehouses serve as the nurseries/
creches for where our precious new products are stored while
the commercial team generates sales. Warehouse managers are
custodians of our sales inventory and companies need to insure
that their brands are in good hands while awaiting sales.
Listed below are 10 Tips on productive distributor
warehouse visits.
1. Confirm Accurate Stock Levels for Your Brands
Does warehouse inventory reconcile with distributor stock
reports? How many cases are there versus agreed to weeks
supply targets? Six to eight weeks of stock is typical for
overseas brands. Walk down every aisle and check every
one of your SKU’s.
2. Identify Problems
A warehouse visit may reveal overstock or understock
conditions. Similarly, you may spot a case of poor sales rotation
or goods approaching expiration date. A common problem is
the discovery that a warehouse may not adhere to a “first in,
first out” method of stock rotation. Examine cases to look for
damaged goods.
3. Warehouse = Window Into Distributors Real Business
Warehouse inventory levels paint an accurate picture of
the distributor’s real business profile, not what the pretty
PowerPoint presentation tells you. What brands are stocked?
What are they selling? I remember one distributor interview
included bold claims about representation of famous companies.
The warehouse revealed one pallet of one small SKU from the
famous manufacturer. Another interview for a distributor
claimed representation of fifty world famous brands. The
warehouse check showed that 50% of business was on a local
commodity item and most of the foreign brands had only 20-30
cases of stock.
4. Outsourced Logistics Providers
In certain countries, distributors outsource logistics to another
third-party provider. This is a mixed message for a manufacturer.
From one standpoint, this frees up distributor management time
to focus on brand building. Also, there are excellent logistics
providers that specialize in “best in class” practices. On the other
hand, the distributor has sold his logistics contract, sourcing a fat
fee for his business. Also the external logistics provider needs to
make a profit, so you wind up with another margin line item in
your calculation. Request a warehouse inspection, even if it is
managed by a third party.
5. Get to Know the Warehouse Manager
Every business runs into supply chain problems at some point
in time and its positive to know the person in charge. Bring him
a shirt or other gift with your company logo and he will be your
friend for life (or at least until the next problem!).
6. What are Distributor’s Service Levels?
Most buyer’s first concern is sales rotation. Their second metric
is service levels such as stock levels, fill rate, and inventory turns.
Your distributor’s adherence to retailer’s supply chain scorecard
objectives reflects on your brand, sales performance, and
distributor’s reliability as a provider. What are the distributor’s
KPI’s? Are they tracked automatically or manually? How are
they doing?
7. Appearances Count!
Is the warehouse clean or dirty? Does it appear to be
logically organized? Is it busy or “asleep?” These clues send
an important message on the overall status and culture of
your distributor partner.
8. Understand Distributor Value Added Services
Many distributors provide value added services in their
warehouse. This may include creation of promotion packs,
stickering or special pack displays. You may discover distributor
capabilities that you were not aware of.
9. The Heat Is On?
Products require different storage conditions. Obviously
frozen and chilled items require temperature control.
Confectionery products require different climate standards.
Health and personal care items may ship in units versus cases.
In other situations products like insecticides cannot be stored
(or shipped) with food products. What is the compliance level
versus the storage standards for your products?
10. Alignment With Expectations
Ultimately, a successful warehouse visit should match your
business and expectations. If business is good, the visit
demonstrates your interest in the distributor’s total company
and team. Request a visit just to say “thanks.” If your business
is declining, the warehouse is a perfect place to dig into what
the real situation is at the distributor. Sales to the customer begin
the moment your brand leaves the distributor warehouse floor.
A periodic inspection will insure that your brand looks its best
in transit to the store shelf.
10 Tips: Mandatory Distributor Warehouse Visit
Logistics-Distributor Capability Scorecard
Many retailers supply their distributors with service level scorecards. Our distributor’s performance demonstrates their reputation as
a reliable supplier to important customers. Benchmark results vary by country, reflecting unique requirements to serve local customers.
Assessment Criteria Capability – Results
Warehouse: Distributor owned or outsourced to third party?
Trucks/vans: Distributor owned? How many, by type?
Warehouses: Locations, size, pallet positions,temp.controlled?
Special pack services: Stickering, promo packs, repack?
Average stock on hand: number weeks supply, by SKU
Annual inventory turns
Order lead time: capital city, rural regions
Minimum order size: cases, value, avg. order size
Perfect order rate, case fill rate, SKU fill rate
On time delivery rate
Monthly orders handled? Unique customers?
Damaged goods: Percent of sales
Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) customers
Can distributor ship less than case quantities?
Logistic cost: percent of net invoiced cost
Dramatic currency gyrations wreak
havoc with retail pricing around the
globe. Strong USA dollar, weaker Euro,
devalued China RMB, and cratering
pound. These lightning fast moves
on currency exchange may require
six months or more to wind their
way through the supply chain. Some
distributors devote more time to serving
as f/x traders versus brand builders.
Unfortunately, most export managers
are distanced from the problem until
receiving an urgent call from a distributor
who faces passing on a 10-20 percent
price increase to his customers. Listed
below are Export Solutions’ “tough tactics
for tumultuous times.”
Higher Prices Mean Lower Volume
Emerging market currencies usually
move in a weaker direction. This
translates to higher shelf prices. Citizens
in these economies rarely experience
wage increases in parallel with inflation.
Most consumers tend to reduce purchases
of overseas products as they become
luxury items. Exporters need to calibrate
“how much pain” they are willing to
endure in terms of lower volume.
Prices Only Go Up, Never Down
Permanent price declines or rollbacks
are extraordinarily difficult to execute.
If your currency weakens, retailers and
distributors don’t pass on lower net cost.
It is common practice for them to try to
maintain retail shelf prices and capture
extra margin. Savvy brand owners skip
the price rollback and invest in heavier
promotion levels or enjoy higher profits.
Conduct Monthly Price Surveys
In countries of extreme price fluctuation,
best to schedule monthly price surveys of
your brand and the competition. Request
that distributors use the same store base
every month to avoid regional differences.
Online grocers allow us to monitor
country pricing from our desktops, miles
away from overseas markets.
Retailers: Once Per Year Price Increases
Many retailers accept price increases
only one time per year. This may occur
in conjunction with annual negotiations.
Other retailers demand ninety days
advance notice. Sometimes “borderline”
brands encounter customers who simply
refuse to accept price increases. Ultimately,
this puts tremendous pressure on
distributors who may be facing price
increases from multiple suppliers
What’s Fair? – Peg Rate
I advocate a model where currency
is pegged to an exchange rate at the
beginning of the year. Distributor and
brand owner agree to “swallow” price
swings of the five percent in either
direction of the peg. If the currency
breaches five percent threshold, then
both parties review the formula and
assess options.
Bank Rate Versus Distributor Rate
A key metric to investigate is the
distributor exchange rate in his
calculation versus the actual bank
rate. Many distributors seek to insulate
themselves by building in a five to ten
percent protective cushion. Guess what?
If the currency doesn’t move, the
distributor just made an extra five to
ten percent on your brand, starting
from the landed cost line!
Sell in Local Currency
This forces large manufacturers to accept
the risk or benefit. This insulates smaller
distributors who may not enjoy similar
capital reserves as their larger principals.
This approach works especially well with
European brands selling to the USA or
vice versa.
Competitive Activity
Frequently, all category players
experience similar input cost increases
such as raw materials. Competitors may
use the window to hold prices low to
gain market share. Others may eliminate
promotional spending. Ultimately brands
elect a certain price positioning in a
country and should strive to stay
within the desired range.
Document Price Change Rationale
Retailers provide strict challenges to those
requesting price increases. Supply them
with hard facts on costs of raw material,
currency exchange, transportation and
other factors. Retailers with substantial
private label programs face similar
pressures on their own private label,
so they are not blind to the situation.
Watch Credit/Receivables
Distributors pay their suppliers in
advance of receiving payment from local
customers. Distributors invoice in local
currency and wait for repayment.
During periods of currency fluctuation,
the typical sixty day float could result
in a five percent reduction in receivables.
Across a broad portfolio of brands, this
could spell trouble for a distributor.
Run credit reports and monitor days
outstanding trends.
“Helpers” are Heroes
A trusted distributor who has delivered
consistent results is worthy of your help!
In the past, I have witnessed the USA
dollar appreciate more than fifteen
percent versus the Mexican peso and
Canadian dollar. Best approach is for both
partners to “roll up their sleeves” and
engage in an open discussion around
transparent examination of the facts.
Distributors are entitled to a reasonable
profit. A manufacturer who helps absorb
the pain during a “currency crisis” will be
remembered as a true partner when the
situation stabilizes.
Currency Exchange – Tough Tactics for Tumultuous Times
Export Problem Export Solutions
Overseas consumers do not know
my category or brand
Start by marketing to homesick expats
Partner with distributors handling adjacent
categories or brands from your country
Sample at high end retailers or restaurants
featuring your countries cuisine
Limited funding for promotion
Build in promotion allowance into
price calculation
Use free goods
Participate in government programs
like USA “MAP”
Can’t find a distributor
Export Solutions’ database tracks
85 distributors per country
Visit the country. Schedule meetings
with 5-8 candidates
Exhibit at country trade show
My price is too high
New price: production cost plus margin,
eliminating HQ overheads
Promise distributor higher
sales/investment with lower margin
Heavy consumer promotion to support
premium positioning
Big country, small shipments
Stop treating all export countries the same!
Big country, Big focus
Break country into smaller parts:
Regions, channels, customers
Hire local manager or visit quarterly
Consider local production, formulation,
or acquisition
Brand relaunch with new distributor
Field Sales Coverage Frequency Template
Retailer #/Stores Daily Weekly Bi-Weekly Monthly Never
Sample Chain 200 0 50 100 40 10
Country Listing Map USA Example*
“Required Template for Every Country”
Retailer Stores Sku 1 Sku 2 Sku 3 Sku 4 Sku 5 Comments/Plans
Walmart SC 3,571 x x x
Sku 1, 2, 3 stocked at only
2,000 Supercenters
Costco 575 x Special sku 5 for Costco
Kroger 2,726 x x x x Category Review March
Albertsons 2,278 x x x New shelf set
Publix 1,300 x x x BOGO Ad November
Ahold-FL 1,971 x x x x New sku 4 listing
HEB 355 x x x Category Review March
Meijer 260 x x x x Holiday Display Program
*Instructions: List top 10 customers for every country. List all your key skus (items).
“X” indicates item stocked at customer. Blank space represents a distribution void.
Field Sales Capability Assessment
Number of sales offices (list locations)
Total field sales representatives (or merchandisers)
Number of sales reps outside capital area
Number of field sales supervisors
# Full time representatives vs. # part time
Average years of service: representatives
Average stores per representative
# stores visited per day
Average time spent per store, per day
Do you have multiple reps visiting each store?
# SKUs handled per sales rep
# priorities per store visit
# sales reps with laptop or tablet
# sales reps with phone with reporting capability
Compensation: percent fixed vs. variable?
Who Is My Team?
Big distributors feature large teams with strong capabilities.
Manufacturers want to know who is their functional contact and how much time do they dedicate to my business?
Sales Manager
Brand Manager
Field Sales
Digital Marketing
Supply Chain
(order placement)
Accounts Payable
Service Manager
Subscribe now at www.exportsolutions.com
USA Food & Sweets
1,189 Distributors
Spanish Food & Sweets
408 Distributors
Italian Food & Sweets
1,397 Distributors
UK Food & Sweets
682 Distributors
Latam Food & Sweets
543 Distributors
German Food & Sweets
648 Distributors
Country Experts
Looking for distributors specialized in brands from your country?
Search Export Solutions database to find overseas distributors handling
food, beverage, and sweets brands from your country.
Ten Tips Increased Distributor Focus on Your Brands
1. Quarterly MBO Meeting with Distributor
Senior Management
One of the most effective tools for
increased focus is to create a regular
process for Distributor senior
management engagement in your
business. The Management By Objective
(MBO) system (or similar approaches)
allows you to meet quarterly on a pre-
planned schedule to review past quarter
performance on key initiatives and firm
up plans and commitment for the new
quarter. Discussions should focus on key
business metrics and account specific
results. Meetings can be held via
teleconference if you can not visit
personally 4 times per year.
2. International Distributor
Network Conference
This can include all your global
distributors or those from a specific
continent/region. Program can be 1-2
days in length and can include Corporate
Business Review, New Product Roll-Out,
and requirement that each distributor
give a presentation on a success story
from their home market. Meeting location
can tie in with a major trade fair such
as SIAL or FMI to reduce expenses.
Alternatively, the meeting can also be
in a resort location to serve as an
incentive. Export Solutions is available as
a conference meeting speaker to discuss a
variety of distributor optimization
strategies and retail trends.
3. Sales Contests
Sales contests bring energy, excitement,
and focus to your brands. Sales contests
should be about six weeks in duration
and offer the opportunity for “everyone”
to win. Prizes can range from cash
incentives to trips to merchandise for
the winners. Sync contest objectives and
measures to your key initiatives for your
peak season or a new product launch.
4. Key Account Business Reviews
It is appropriate to conduct key account
business reviews with each of the
distributor’s top 3-5 accounts once per
year. Meetings should include senior level
management of the retailer. This strategy
requires distributor analysis of the
accounts business and opportunities for
mutual growth. This also provides you
with an avenue to develop a personal
relationship with local customers.
5. Retail Audit
Retail execution is critical to the success
of any brand initiative. An important
element in a new product launch or
preparation for your peak selling season
is the pre-scheduled Retail Audit across
a market. The Manufacturer would bring
2 or 3 people from their company and
match them with distributor personnel
for a day in the field checking retail
conditions. In one day, the 2-3 teams can
see 30-50 stores in the market to judge
the markets “readiness” and progress.
Distributor personnel are competitive and
will work hard to make the market “look
good” for the Retail Audit.
6. Plant Visit
Invite your distributors for a plant
visit and/or a trip to your corporate
headquarters. Distributor can be introduced
to members of your senior management
team. Distributors should be encouraged
to bring a large customer as well. This
type of trip can serve as a “bonding”
experience and create a renewed sense
of commitment to your business .
7. Bonus Payment
Incentive pay for performance usually
works well with sales teams. Sync bonus
with your key objectives. Reward
performance on achievement of retail
distribution, profitability, as well as sales
volume objectives. Volume based objectives
alone may encourage questionable
shipments that could be diverted.
8. Distributor Sales Meeting Participation
Most distributors schedule monthly or
quarterly meetings for their entire sales
team. This is a primary format for the
distributor to communicate direction and
priorities. Most distributors allow their
manufacturers to make a presentation
on a new item or key sales drive.
Supplement your meeting presentation
with a small gift for all meeting
participants such as a pen, key chain,
or calculator with your company logo.
9. CEO Market Visit
Distributors appreciate a visit from
your CEO or other member of your
senior management team (CFO, VP
International, etc.). This gives them
the opportunity to demonstrate their
results and share their input on the
markets development. It is magical to
watch certain market issues get “solved”
immediately prior to a senior
management visit!
10. Share Best Practices
Create a process for sharing best practices
and success stories within your global
distributor network. These can be
communicated via a monthly newsletter
or email. Distributors are proud to share
their achievements or innovative new
strategies that they are using to build
their business. Manufacturers may elect
to reward distributors with the “best
success story” each month with a “free
dinner” or other incentive.
Spring is a good time of year to conduct
your annual business review with key
customers. 2021 shipment records and
market share data are now available.
Annual negotiations have been concluded
for most and retailers have launched their
own plans to grow sales in a challenging
2022. The annual business review
represents a unique opportunity to
discuss your business at a senior level,
reinforce your reputation as a category
expert, and sell the 2-3 ideas that can
make a “game changing” difference
for your business for 2022.
Senior Management Participation Elevates
Meeting Importance.
The meeting purpose is to consider
strategic issues not normally covered
in daily buyer-seller interaction.
Participation can include anyone at the
retailer who touches your business: buyer,
senior buyer, merchandising manager,
purchasing director all the way up to the
CEO. Suppliers should invite members
of their senior management team,
depending on the size of the country
and retailer. This may translate to a senior
level “top to top” at a large retailer or a
more informal meeting including the
export manager, local distributor, and
the head buyer in a smaller country.
Scorecard Discussion: First Step
Discussion of data and trends should
reflect key retailer priorities. Frequently,
you can source hints from your category
buyer simply by asking: What are the
key metrics that you are evaluated on?
Most suppliers discover that the buyer
is more concerned with service level,
inventory turns, and incremental
promotional spending than your brands
sales trends. Some basic scorecard topics
are recapped below.
What is the retailer’s share of your
business versus their overall market share?
What factors caused them to gain
or lose market share with your
What are the gross margin contributions
(percent/value) from your company?
Discuss your service level from a logistics
standpoint. Critical to remember is that
a successful business meeting will focus
on forward action versus a rehash of
past results.
Category Experts –
What’s New?
A major disconnect
in the supplier-buyer
relationship is that
most suppliers focus
only on their brands
while buyers
concentrate on building
total category sales and
profits. Certain retailers
adopt rigorous category
management processes
with detailed templates
for category analysis.
Tell the retailer
something new!
Suppliers add value by
sharing new category
insights and trends, not
just developments on
their brands. Retailers
may be receptive to
learning about category
innovation from other
markets, consumer research, new
product development work, and
environmental/sustainability programs.
Sync with Retailers 2022 Plans
The annual business review is a good
forum to learn valuable clues on retailer
plans for the year. It is likely that retailers
have already announced their 2022
programs with catchy names such
as “Great Value 2022” or “Absolute
Minimum Pricing.” The meeting
represents a chance to ask senior retailer
executives their insights on program
execution, requisites for participation,
program measures, early results, and
other new initiatives for 2022. Retailers
dedicate significant time to designing
their marketing strategy and usually love
any opportunity to discuss key elements.
Ask for the Order
Come prepared with 2-3 “big ideas”
that could change the dynamics of your
business with the retailer. This could
involve retailer participation in a major
blockbuster promotion,acceptance of a
new line of products, or redesign of the
shelf fixture. The annual business review
forum helps create senior retailer
awareness of the critical issues driving
your business.
Beware of Retailer Agenda
Savvy retailers will also present 1-2
initiatives where they will request your
financial support. Be prepared for the
retailer to pressure your company for
participation in retailers marketing
activities (magazines/fliers) and
concessions in price. In some instances,
the retailer CEO/Head Buyer will use the
meeting as a “training exercise” to show
the buyer how to extract concessions from
their suppliers. It is ok to say “no,” but
be prepared to share your fact based
rationale. Best bet is to create a positive
environment for the meeting. This could
include an “off site” location or a meeting
discussion over a private lunch or dinner.
Normally, distributors/brokers have
excellent local relationships and can create
the appropriate setting for productive,
non-confrontational, business discussions.
Summary: Next Steps
The annual business review represents
a perfect time to address business
opportunities with sufficient time in the
calendar year to implement the ideas and
achieve your shipment objectives. Key to
a positive meeting is a short discussion of
the causal factors (scorecard) paired with
a sharing of “new information” to your
retail customer.
Be prepared with questions of a strategic
nature for the executive members of the
retailer’s team. Senior members of the
retailers buying and merchandising
departments spend their days with
suppliers whose opinions they value.
Join the group with unique category
insights and a demonstrated passion
for your category and the retailers
overall business.
Retailer Annual Business Review
Coverage: 96 countries and 9,200 distributors
Confectionery & Snack
Gourmet/Ethnic Foods
Beverage (Ambient & Hot)
USA, German, UK, Italian Food
Health & Beauty
Tracking Distributors for more than 300 of
the world’s most famous brands.
Example 1: Who are Beverage Distributors
in Germany?
Example 2: Who is the Pringles Distributor
in Saudi Arabia?
Distributor Search Made Simple
Search by Brand NameSearch by Country
Search By Category
Combo Search
Why did you create the distributor database?
Export Managers dedicate a lot of time
to networking, always searching for good
distributor recommendations. We waste
precious time at trade shows speaking to
“pretenders” with no hope of adequately
representing our brands. I thought that
the supermarket industry could benefit
from a global distributor database to
instantly find the leading distributors
in any country.
How did you compile the distributor database?
Export Solutions sources distributor
candidates using six specific strategies.
This includes having access to the global
distributor lists of more than 300 brands
and store checks in at least 25 countries
per year.
How accurate is the contact data?
Export Solutions distributor database is
updated every day! Distributor company
names, web sites, and specialization
rarely change. This makes the database
98% accurate at the company level. The
distributors’ key contact for new product
inquiries and their email addresses
may change as a result of job moves.
Email address accuracy ranges from
80-90 percent depending on the country.
We employ three separate mechanisms
to keep up to date with changes.
What’s new?
Our database has expanded to 96 countries
and 9,200 distributors. It’s now searchable,
supplying country and category filter
inputs or brand names! We also offer
90 day access if you purchase a country
or category list. This allows you to work
online and enjoy “one click access” to
distributors’ web sites. Naturally, we
prefer that you purchase an annual
subscription with unlimited access
to the entire database for one year.
What is the difference between Export Solutions
distributor database and other “lists?”
1. Created by industry export
professionals, not directory aggregators
or other online companies with no
relevant food/consumer goods
industry experience.
2. Each distributor is personally validated
by Greg Seminara. Distributors can not
self register or pay to be in our database.
We know the difference between a “best in
class” distributor and a “one man show.”
3. Our distributor database is designed
for manufacturers of branded products
normally sold through supermarkets,
pharmacies, and food service channels.
We do not include distributors of
commodities or ingredients.
4. Call us! Our specialization is
distributor search, with 400+ projects
completed. Contact us for a free copy
of our Distributor Search Guide.
5. Our database is searchable by country,
category specialization, brand name, or
combination of all three filters.
Which type of companies use our database?
Database clients range from small start-
ups to the largest companies in food
and consumer goods. Export Solutions
database has had more than 3,300 clients
including brand owners from all over
the world. Leading government trade
organizations from USA, Italy, Germany,
and Brasil also develop special
agreements to gain access.
What product categories are covered?
Distributors include specialists for branded
food products, confectionery & snacks,
beverage, natural foods, gourmet products,
ethnic food, health and beauty care
products, household products, and
general merchandise. We offer oustanding
coverage of Italian Food distributors. Many
distributors can handle any product that
is normally sold through Supermarkets,
Convenience, Foodservice/Catering, or
Pharmacy trade channels.
What are best practices in getting the most
productivity from the database?
Successful companies use the database
to screen companies to develop a top 5
list of high potential candidates. They
send a short introductory email with
a web link to their company site. Then,
the export manager follows up with
a phone call within 48 hours. The
database is an excellent tool to invite
potential candidates to an international
trade show like Sial, Anuga, ISM or
Sweets and Snacks. Note: mass mailing
distributors usually generates less than
desirable results.
Does Export Solutions provide any
additional information on the distributors?
Export Solutions knows many of the
distributors in our database. Clients of
our Premium Subscription or Talk to An
Export Expert Services can gain access
to our insights via phone on the best
distributor candidates in any of the
96 countries we cover.
How do I access the distributor database?
Visit www.exportsolutions.com and
click the distributor database page.
You can place a subscription or country
or category access into a shopping cart.
Register and check out via credit card.
The process takes two minutes and we
automatically send you an invoice.
FAQ’s Distributor Database
New Country Launch How Long It Takes
* Some activities may be completed concurrently
Minimum Typical
Research Distributor
Candidates, Schedule
Meetings with Lead Time
2 weeks 4-6 weeks
Distributor Meetings 2 days 1 week
Post Meeting Due Diligence 1 week 4 -8 weeks
Distributor Appointment 1 week 4-8 weeks
Labeling Compliance already compliant 12-26 weeks
Product Registration* 1 week 4 -12 weeks
Business Plan Development* 1 week 4 weeks
Contract/Agreement* 1 week 4-8 weeks
Initial Order Arrives 3 weeks 4- 8 weeks
Key Account Calls 1 week 2- 4 weeks
Key Account Acceptance 1 week 4-8 weeks
Retail Placement 2 weeks 4-8 weeks
Marketing Starts 1 week after retail availability 4 - 8 weeks
Consumer Sales
Repeat Purchase
Total 6 Months One Year
1. Determine Brand Ambition
for Country
Will your brand be a category leader,
player, or niche participant?
2. Establish Distributor