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Government support for entrepreneurs

Export: direct or indirect?

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce

You want to export your goods. Do you want to keep matters in your own hands, or do you employ agents or distributors? Whether the best choice for you is direct or indirect export depends on your situation, your product, and the demands posed by the foreign market. Consider the pros and cons of both options.

What does direct export entail?

Direct export means direct sales to a customer abroad. You send your invoice directly to the customer. For instance: you product handmade mobile casings, and mail them to your customers in Belgium and Germany. You maintain close contacts with your customers and undertake your own marketing and sales. Sales through a foreign branch of your company are also direct exports.

Indirect export

Indirect export means you appoint third parties, like agents or distributors, to represent your company and your products abroad.

Advantages Disadvantages
Direct export: direct customer contact greater financial risks
higher profit margins investment of time and staff
independence from foreign partners limited market coverage
insufficient knowledge of market and culture
Indirect export:no or very few extra staff requiredlower profit margins
agent knows and has access to the market and distribution channelsdependence on commitment of partner
more complete market coverage possibleno direct customer contact
smaller financial risks

Record your arrangements

Whichever mode of exporting you choose, make sure you lay down your arrangements in writing. There are model contracts you can use as a basis, provided by the International Chamber of CommerceExternal link and the Verbond van Nederlandse Handelsagenten en ImporteursExternal link (page is in Dutch, but contracts are available in English). If you sell goods directly to the end user abroad, you can draw up an international sale contract. If you’re starting a collaboration with an agent or distributor, you can draw up an agency or distribution contract.

Any further questions?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce

+31 (0)88 585 2222

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce