Types of Import/Export Businesses
It is imprtant to know the players in this business. There are many variations on the main theme:
Export management company (EMC): An EMC handles export operations for a domestic company that wants to sell its product overseas but doesn’t know how (and perhaps doesn’t want to know how). The EMC does it all–hiring dealers, distributors and representatives; handling advertising, marketing and promotions; overseeing marking and packaging; arranging shipping; and sometimes arranging financing. In some cases, the EMC even takes title to the goods, in essence becoming its own distributor. EMCs usually specialize by product, foreign market or both, and–unless they’ve taken title–are paid by commission, salary or retainer plus commission.
Export trading company (ETC): While an EMC has merchandise to sell and is using its energies to seek out buyers, an ETC attacks the other side of the trading coin. It identifies what foreign buyers want to spend their money on and then hunts down domestic sources willing to export. An ETC sometimes takes title to the goods and sometimes works on a commission basis.
Import/export merchant: This international entrepreneur is a sort of free agent. He has no specific client base, and he doesn’t specialize in any one industry or line of products. Instead, he purchases goods directly from a domestic or foreign manufacturer and then packs, ships and resells the goods on his own. This means, of course, that unlike the EMC, he assumes all the risks (as well as all the profits).
Let have a look in the trade channel:
Manufacturer’s representative: a salesperson who specializes in a type of product or line of complementary products; for example, home electronics: televisions, radios, CD players and sound systems. He often provides additional product assistance, such as warehousing and technical service.
Distributor or wholesale distributor: a company that buys the product you’ve imported and sells it to a retailer or other agent for further distribution until it gets to the end user
Representative: a savvy salesperson who pitches your product to wholesale or retail buyers, then passes the sale on to you; differs from a manufacturer’s representative in that he doesn’t necessarily specialize in a particular product or group of products
Retailer: the tail end of the trade channel where the merchandise smacks into the consumer; as yet another variation on a theme, if the end user is not Joan Q. Public but an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), then you don’t need to worry about the retailer because the OEM becomes your end of the line. (Think Dell Computer purchasing a software program to pass along to its personal computer buyer as part of the goodie package.)