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Guide to Expanding Distribution Channels

The more products you move, the more profit you earn

Adding new distribution venues can boost your bottom line, diversify your business and increase brand awareness. Some distribution channels to consider include:

Retail and wholesale
Direct marketing
International markets
Go where your buyers go
Many retailers are constantly on the lookout for new products. Department stores and specialty retailers have significant shelf space to fill. And even though they take a cut of each sale, you can offset that cost and turn a tidy profit with better pricing and sales volume.

Working with a wholesaler provides a similar set of advantages. Plus, they buy in bulk and often have transportation networks in place. Check out the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors to find a wholesaler in your industry.

To find reps for wholesalers and retailers, attend trade shows related to your product category. You can also outsource the legwork with a retail fulfillment service, distribution specialist or product marketing firm. Alternatively, find an independent sales representative through the Manufacturers' Agents National Association (MANA).

Go direct
Direct marketing methods can expand the reach of just about any venture, especially a small business that has saturated a local market.

Direct mail pieces such as flyers, postcards, brochures and catalogs allow companies to grow beyond their state or region and can even help achieve national exposure. Telemarketing can also provide broad reach.

All these methods require an initial investment, but many specialized marketing firms are ready to launch a campaign with minimal lead time. Just make sure to carefully track your ROI.

Internet sales continue to grow, with more users gaining high-speed Internet access and the overall comfort level with e-commerce growing every year.

Shopping sites like eBay and Amazon provide good examples of quick self-signup options and require no programming skills.

Go global
The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world's population. China, India and the European Union have nearly 45 percent combined.

Any international sales effort will require the patience and dedication to navigate through a host of complex cultural issues and governmental restrictions, but high profit margins can make it worthwhile.

Help is available through international commerce consultants and trade partners, both of which can be found at trade shows and export events. offers resources dedicated to supporting potential exporters, including a list of international trade events.

By Jason Agard,
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