What is the role of the export agent?
Let us begin by defining an export
agent. An export agent is a firm (or individual) that
undertakes most of the exporting activities on behalf
of an exporter usually for a commission. A key feature
of the traditional export agent is that they never really
take ownership of the goods, which always remain under
the control of the exporter. The agent thus will do
most of the marketing of the principle (i.e. the export
firm) and the firm’s products.
What exactly does the export agent do?
The agent may travel abroad, do research,
prepare an export plan, advise the exporter on how to
adapt their marketing mix, make contact with potential
buyers, negotiate deals with the buyers, take care of
all promotional activities, handle the logistics and
documentation, and much more. All of these tasks, the
export will do on the exporter’s
behalf. The exporter normally pays the agent for the expenses
they have incurred marketing the firm’s products
and handling the export administration, and will generally
earn a commission on any sales generated. In essence the
export agent becomes the exporter’s export department.
In some cases, the principle will want to keep tight control
over the agent’s activities, while in other instances,
the agent is given free reign. Some companies may employ
an agent for very specific tasks such as undertaking marketing
research or handling the export administration and logistics
Using an agent is a relatively easy
and painless way for a local company to enter the export
market, as they generally have to do very little – the agent does
all (or at least some) of the export marketing on the