There are lots of different ways for an export business to go to market which will determine who you need to build partnerships with.
"You have to make a decision how you want to go to market... this is a business decision that every business needs to make. Do you want to go to market directly, or do you want to partner with someone to go to market? There are risks on both approaches and it’s a trade off between cost and control". Matthew Michaelwitz, entrepreneur.
The Export Council of Australia provides information on some common export partner relationships:
Normally based in Australia, export merchants have strong links with a country or a particular market segment. Exposure is minimised as the merchant normally purchases the product in Australia, ships, insures and takes the payment risk.
Working on your behalf, agents seek out potential clients for your product or service. They do not take ownership of the goods/service and can be paid a salary, retainer or commission or a mix of all three.
Taking ownership of the goods and paying the exporter for them, distributors will then market and resell them and often provide after-sales service. As distributors own the stock and have an investment in representing a product, they are normally performance driven and usually have strong market knowledge.
When exporters enter into join venture arrangements, they are usually financially driven, with shares held by both parties involved. Many joint ventures are between parties who have past experience in working together in a distribution arrangement.