CaribExport has developed a short, practical, commercially-led guidance manual on how best to profile, approach and select a suitable distributor. Where there are specific, relevant documents or links relevant to the checklist these are detailed under “resources”. This guide is predominantly for Small to Medium sized businesses that need practical advice on how to assess the potential for increasing sales of their products through use of a distribution partner(s). This guide is mainly focused on export, although the basic principles apply to local markets as much as they do regional or international markets.

This guide offers manufacturers a step-by-step guide to researching, making contact, agreeing commercial terms and building a successful working relationship with a distributor. Selecting the right distributor can expand your sales within your existing market, or support the launch of your product and sales growth into new, diverse markets making a real difference to your business footprint and revenue. However, finding a like-minded distributor, who acts effectively as an extension of your business, is critical and this takes time, proper research and a clear & shared motivation.


Export readiness Prior to any form of export a series of checks need to be carried out on an existing business to ensure that export is right for the company and that it has the capacity to deliver on export objectives.

1.1 Export objectives
Clear internal goals and priorities are critical prior to any export activity:




Do you have a good understanding of exporting and the terms surrounding it?

Make sure you understand the general model outlined in this manual. If you’re not clear on terminology see the glossary which simplifies export jargon such as ‘INCOTERMS’.

Do you have clear export priorities?

Be clear and focused. What level of growth are you targeting? What are your market priorities? Markets can be very different in terms of pricing, competition and distribution. Launching an unknown brand into a new market takes time, knowledge and resource. It is worth getting one route to market established properly before expanding into many markets.

General model

Do you have a clear commercial rationale for export?

What are your key commercial objectives. Are you looking to drive increased margin (higher price) or are you focused on lower margin and higher volume ? It is a good idea to have a clear perspective on this, and then validate through a clear price build-up for the export market, and good research in your target market.

Have you explored local government/ agencies for export advice and contacts?

It is always worth establishing if local government agencies and/ or support for exporters have any useful contacts or experience. A credible personal introduction to potential partners and/ or someone in the market who might be able to assist is very valuble.

See your local export promotion agency or contact CaribExport for advice.