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Routes to market

Routes to market

Your checklist

Understand the different routes into EU markets

There are many ways you can choose to enter and develop your business in selected export markets. This can also vary between individual markets, depending on which route is the most effective for each individual export market.

So which aspects should you consider? 

Direct selling

You may choose to sell directly into export markets yourself if you have the necessary resources and skills in-house. The internet gives users the flexibility to market and sell directly to end customers in EU markets. 

Agents and distributors

Alternatively, you may choose to enter and develop export markets through a third party arrangement – normally through appointing an agent or distributor in the selected market, or via an online marketplace.

Other options

Other less common, yet effective routes to EU markets are: licensing, franchising and/or collaboration channels.

Consider the pros and cons of each route in terms of what you require

There is no right or wrong route to enter and develop EU markets – it will often depend on the individual EU market, and most importantly your own business circumstances, and how you wish to develop your export business. 

Direct selling – this is the most traditional form of export within the EU, often achieved through selling direct to the consumer via website, or direct to retail outlets and at trade fairs for example. 

Online marketplaces – more frequently businesses are listing their products on third-party websites, whereby the transactions and processes are handled by the marketplace operator. 

Licensing and franchising – this route to EU markets is commonly used by many companies in the UK. It offers a quick route into a number of EU markets, allowing companies to share potential risks of exporting (provided a comprehensive agreement is in place which protects the company), and ensures a good return. 

Using agents and distributors in EU markets

Another option is using agents or distributors as a route to EU markets. Each fulfil a particular role and it’s important to detail the expected role requirements within a contract agreement.

Establish the most appropriate route for export to each selected market

Ultimately any of the above routes into EU markets can work well for your business, however time should be taken to consider which method is the best fit. This will often depend on the scale and immediacy of the identified market opportunity.

In this video, Rebecca Russell, global brand manager at Mackie's at Taypack, shares her insights on business culture, prioritisation and routes to market for Mackie's Crisps around the world.

Get the right support and advice

Discuss the best route to each targeted EU market with your export adviser, a free service for any company based in Scotland.

Our free international market research service can support by helping you scope out and credit check potential agents and distributors.


All information provided on this web page is for general guidance only. The contents of this guide have been provided by our training partners, Upper Quartile. Upper Quartile is not affiliated with any of the third parties or listings represented on our website. Third party listings are drawn from public domain and industry body data sources. Due diligence on a given third party or listing remains the exclusive responsibility of the end user. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the details represented, Upper Quartile and Scottish Enterprise cannot endorse, recommend or accept responsibility for any transactions conducted between the user and a given third party or listing provided on this web page.