The Challenge of Finding 3D Printer Resellers

 There are many kinds of equipment resellers, but some are not appropriate for 3D printing [Source: Fabbaloo]
There are many kinds of equipment resellers, but some are not appropriate for 3D printing [Source: Fabbaloo]

Another week rolled by and I received yet another enquiry about finding 3D printer resellers.

As usual, a notable 3D printer manufacturer contacted us to see if we were aware of any 3D printer resellers in Vietnam. This European 3D printer manufacturer is growing swiftly and is looking to expand their business in the Asia-Pac region through arrangements with resellers.

Why 3D Print Resellers?

Resellers are critical for such manufacturers as they can provide direct, local services to an entirely new audience for the manufacturer. They likely have existing relationships with good clients who may be interested in the manufacturer’s products. And they provide those services in the right language and culture.

These are things a manufacturer has an incredibly difficult time doing them on their own. It’s a big world with many twists and turns; like going on a distant vacation, it’s always best to work with a local.

Finding resellers is often complex, as it is definitely not as straightforward as doing a Google Search. That’s because of several reasons.

Local Language 3D Print Resellers

First, the target resellers by definition will be providing their online presence in the local language, which the reseller more than likely does not understand. That’s the first and most obvious barrier to finding a reseller.

Another barrier is terminology. The word “3D printer” is well established in the english world (with a nod towards the alternative term, “additive manufacturing”), so it’s easy to search for that term. However, in other languages the devices may be called something quite different, based on the culture, history and language. An analogous situation might be an American in the UK searching for an automobile “trunk” but not finding anything because in the UK such things are called the “boot”.

Non-Obvious Potential Resellers

Another challenge is that often the best reseller in a situation might not even be selling 3D printers at the moment. In fact, it’s a great opportunity if a manufacturer was able to catch a reseller just as they entered the 3D printing space by making a deal.

These resellers might specialize in providing some type of non-3D printing industrial equipment to regional businesses, for example. Or perhaps they provide training equipment for educational institutions. Or they may provide electronic repair services to the public. Or, well, you get the idea. The right reseller could be almost anything.

Inappropriate 3D Printer Resellers

I ran into an example of this myself. When purchasing an industrial 3D printer made by a noted manufacturer I was surprised to find that my assigned reseller was in fact a photocopier service company. This organization had recently become an official reseller of the equipment, but 99% of their business was actually with photocopiers.

As you might imagine, they had very little expertise in the 3D printer. In fact, when the machine arrived their novice service technician who installed the machine was basically “only one chapter ahead” of us in the book.

This demonstrates the tremendous challenge of finding resellers even for the largest 3D printer manufacturers – and that’s in the West!

Finding 3D Printer Resellers

There’s very often no directories of resellers available, making contact extremely difficult. In some cases the manufacturer may have to physically send representatives to a distant locale and have them perform what is essentially detective work on the ground to ferret out who the resellers might be.

Meanwhile there are certainly many resellers of all manner of equipment in all locations; it’s just very hard to find them sometimes. But if you do, they are frequently quite open to offering new equipment to their clients, as they would like to sell more gear, too.

What can you do? If you know of a local reseller, don’t hesitate to make a suggestion to them of good quality equipment they should consider marketing. Send them contact information and perhaps you’ll see some new options available in your region.

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