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Agent or distributor?

Whether an agent or a distributor is better for you depends on the circumstances and what you are trying to achieve

Considerations include:

  • Which agents or distributors have access to your target customers.
  • Your existing operations, and how the new intermediary can fit with them. For example, if you want to keep an existing sales operation (such as a sales force, telesales team or online sales), you will need an intermediary who is happy to work alongside that.
  • What rights and responsibilities you want to be included in your agreement with the intermediary.
  • How closely you want to be involved in the sales process. It can be easier to have more control over how an agent handles sales.
  • What type of relationship you want to have with the ultimate customer. Using a distributor may distance you from the ultimate customer.

Agents are often preferable for making high value, complex or bespoke sales. You will also need to use an agent if you want to sell a service which you must deliver. Distributors, such as wholesalers, are often used for making lower value sales of relatively straightforward products.

For more information about agents, see our factsheet 'Dealing with an agent'.

Always take legal advice if in doubt.

You can find more articles, videos and tools on agents and distributors in the Resources box on the right. You can also see using agents and distributors on the Law Donut.