This section clarifies the terms we use to describe distribution channel partners and discusses the differences in importance compared to other countries that often apply in Russia. The size of Russia and the relatively young market economy mean that distribution channels are not the same as in a compact, highly centralized country such as the UK or France within a larger entity like the European Union.
Russia is neither a member of the EU nor an associate. Russia has it’s own set of laws and regulations. Obtaining the necessary registrations and certificates can be a considerable task. Some of the certificates are only awarded once to a single importer. This was originally a measure to protect brand owners from piracy. That said, the Russian government persuaded its CIS neighbours other than Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova to join the Eurasian Economic Union. The EaEU is closely modelled on the EU and its central project is to harmonize its regulations with the EU.
Russia is also a very large country both in population terms and physical size. As a result, there are very few businesses where a single wholesaler or distributor covers the whole country. In the public sector, there are 40,000 county councils for example. Some in European Russia with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, comparable to a British county, others windswept tundra with a few thousand inhabitants.
Importers add value by maintaining your options to use more than one distributor by avoiding the costs of multiple import registrations or being locked in by an important registration. They also add value by allowing you to choose multiple channel partners with strengths in different parts of the country or in different industries.
In markets addressing the public sector, importers may not only deal with the importing formalities, but also hold stock and fulfil orders while the sales are made by independent agents specialising in close relations with the 10 Federal regions, 83 provincial governments or the 40,000 county councils. In such cases, the importer can deliver a complete route to market.