How to find importers is the first question that a company asks itself when starting to sell abroad. The answer may seem obvious: on the Internet. However, it is far from certain unless the company knows precisely which are the most useful and cost-effective tools for identifying importers in foreign markets.
Although on the Internet there are hundreds of websites offering listings of importers, international offers and demands, business contacts, etc., the vast majority of this type of information accessed by clicking on the corresponding links. But, it is not useful because:
- Inaccurate information: in most websites that offer information from importers, the search cannot be made for a particular product or product category, but rather for sectors of activity. For example, it will not be possible to look for importers of tiles, but for importers of construction materials, so that most companies obtained will not import tiles.
- Incomplete information: if the importing companies in foreign countries buy the product to be exported, the information obtained will be limited to the name of the company and, perhaps, to its address and web page. It’s likely we will not find data on import volumes and values, countries of origin and, even less frequently, the names of the persons responsible for importing and their contact details.
- Outdated information: many of the names and information obtained do not correspond to the real situation. It is usual that companies appearing in lists of importers have disappeared and others do not import the product for which the search is being made, so the result is often frustrating.
Due to the importance of finding an appropriate importer, it is recommended that reliable and updated sources be used, even if it is necessary to pay for the information. However, the cost of this option will not be high, considering the quality of the information obtained.
There are three essential tools for finding importers in international markets:
Importers Data: information about 300.000 importers in 40 countries
This is the largest database of importers in the world. The information comes directly from the customs of each country. This tool is especially useful when the exporter is searching for companies that import products to resell them to manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers or retailers.
Importers Data provides lists of importing companies in 40 countries, among which are the most important in the world (United States, China, Japan, Russia, India, etc.). The search is precise as it includes hundreds of products through their corresponding tariff codes, which guarantees maximum reliability in the companies obtained.
The only difficulty presented by this database is that the information obtained for each country is not homogeneous. For example, for countries such as the United States, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, etc. you get very precise information: name and address of each importing company, import volume, telephone, contact mail and person responsible for imports. However in other countries (Brazil, Romania or Sweden) the database only provides the name and address of the importers. But, the information obtained is very useful and worth it.
Search example: Importers of wooden doors in GermanySource: Importers in Germany
Kompass: 5 millions companies in 70 countries
It is the most complete world directory of manufacturers in which are classified by products and services thousands of companies that operate in over 70 countries. It is useful for companies looking for importers that use the product in their production processes, i.e. they will not resell them. The main advantage of this tool is that the search allows a very precise segmentation by type of product, country and town, turnover of the company and number of employees. The disadvantage is that the information obtained does not allow to know whether or not companies import, although the larger ones, most probably do so.
INTRACEN: Associations of Importers classified by country
Finally, a mention should also be given to INTRACEN (International Trade Center), a United Nations agency that provides a directory of Associations of Importers classified by country on its website. In total, 417 Associations are included; some generic and others specialized by sectors (automotive, food and beverages, medical material, textile, etc.). Most offer listings of associated companies that import, as well as business opportunities and contact services for foreign exporters.