Resellers or Direct? What to Choose for 3D Printing Hardware
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When selling 3D printing hardware, there is a fundamental choice that every company has to make: resellers or direct. Do I, as a business, want to control everything, have offices everywhere, and sell all of my products directly? Or do I want to give margin to a network of resellers worldwide? In that case, you can rely on their language skills and knowledge of the local country’s laws, business community, and practices.
One can also try a hybrid model where, in the US, you do everything directly, while everywhere else you try to find resellers, for example. Or another model is to do as much as possible directly, but to rely on several key resellers for things like government contracts, hospital sales, and education sales which are often specialized markets that are difficult to penetrate. Another model is Gil Lavi’s 3D Alliances, where he will source you a reseller network.
Some companies tend to work English speaking markets themselves, while relying on resellers for other language areas because of support and communication with customers. Some markets are extra tricky and may therefore be especially likely to have resellers. Entering China can often be quite daunting for a startup due to the complexity of the legal system and questions about things like IP. Brazil is a challenging market to import into due to regulations. This leads to especially long and close relationships there in the case of Fabio Sant´Ana, with the likes of Arcam and Sciaky.
On the whole, we can see many different scenarios and every firm will be on a continuum. To me the most important factors in the whole value added channel/reseller game is a set of five questions:
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