In the western world a great deal of importance is given to first impressions and presentation. Prestige and professionalism are judged not only by a company or individual’s achievements, but also by the way they present themselves to the world. This is not the case in Asia where looks can be deceiving.

Some of the best operators I know in Asia have offices that are clamped on like Lego blocks, to a warehouse located in the middle of nowhere, that you enter through a side door and have to jostle through towers of boxes and dusty chairs to reach.

A number of the leading distributors we work with don’t even have websites.

Credibility is earned in different ways in Asia. It’s often the unseen or intangible qualities that are most influential, such as the size of a distributors network in the F&B sector or the strength of their relationships in the industry.

For an exporter this can make it difficult to find the right distribution partner, especially if the search is done remotely.

Understanding the supply chain and market dynamics affecting your category in each country and knowing who the key players are takes time and experience but pays dividends if you want to partner with the right distributors.