Agency or distribution?
Agency or distribution? This seems to be the doubt that many companies have regard to their distribution network. It will be better to adopt the agent's figure, perhaps making it precede a trial period as a procurer, or rely on a more structured distributor (or exclusive importer?). In fact, there is no better choice at all. Of course, in countries where the distributor is not automatically entitled to severance indemnity, the temptation is great to opt directly for the distributor figure. Nevertheless, the distributor is more suitable, always in a general way, for cases where the ability to perform technical assistance activities and / or to provide services under guarantee is required. But, as always, it is a question of assessing the solution that best suits our needs on a case-by-case basis.
It often happens that agency and distribution are considered simple variants of a single contract: the exclusive contract, which in itself does not exist. Both the agency and the distribution can foresee (and as a rule prevail) a relationship characterized by the territorial exclusivity in favor of the agent / distributor, but the analogies stop here. On the other hand, there are the profound structural differences between the two contracts, and the possible consequences for the principal-conciliation in the case of termination of the relationship. Once again, it will be a case-by-case analysis of the solution tailored to the case that interests us.
Often overlooked (or ignored?) by some advisors, the EU antitrust regulation plays a crucial role in the configuration of a distribution system. Commission regulation n. 330/2010, for example, establishes a number of rules and limits on commercial distribution contracts. In particular, it must be kept in mind when the contracts are to be particularly stringent and intend to check in detail the powers / duties of the distributor. Particular attention must then be given to situations in which in addition to sales through the "physical" channel, the company also wants to develop the "on-line" channel, which must be coordinated without excessive restrictions with the traditional channel.
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