Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution and Sales Channels

Discusses the distribution network within the country from how products enter to final destination, including reliability and condition of distribution mechanisms, major distribution centers, ports, etc

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Distribution and sales of industrial goods in Thailand are normally conducted through two channels:

  • U.S. exporter, to Thai importer, to Thai end-user
  • U.S. exporter directly to Thai end-user
The selection of distribution and sales channels depends largely on the type of product and the end-user.  Exporters of products that require after-sales service should have a Thai importer representing them locally.  A local agent or distributor can respond more quickly to provide service and parts replacement.  Accordingly, the end-user’s confidence will increase if there is a place where they can receive near-immediate assistance any time a machine breaks down.  Also, the end-user generally feels more comfortable dealing with a local agent or distributor since there are no language or distance barriers.  The agent or distributor also facilitates customs procedures for end-users.  It should be noted that, in general, only local agents, distributors, or manufacturers’ branch offices in Thailand are eligible to enter day-to-day bidding for routine government tenders.  Please also see the sections in this chapter on “Selling Factors” and “Selling to the Government” for more detailed information about bidding on projects by international bidders.
For consumer goods, there are generally three distribution and sales channels:
  • U.S. exporter, to Thai importer, to Thai retailer, to Thai end-user
  • U.S. exporter, to Thai importer, to Thai wholesaler, retailer, and end-user
  • U.S. exporter, to Thai retailer, to end-user

Perishable consumer goods tend to go through the first channel, which is the fastest.  In this instance, importers tend to act as wholesalers at the same time.  Non-perishable consumer goods normally go through the second or third channel.  The second channel seems to be the most favored, especially with lower-priced items, since there are over 250,000 (mostly small) retail outlets in Thailand.  Working through wholesalers will promote better market coverage.