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Finding the right Chinese distribution partner

Finding the right Chinese distribution partner
Product:Children’s educational software
Targets:Software distributors, international kindergartens & primary schools
Result:Distribution agreement with major Chinese software developer

EducationCity, a British educational software and games developer, wanted to grow its business in China but needed help to develop a nationwide distribution strategy and boost its sales. We were brought in to do just that.

EducationCity already had a local distribution partner in China, which they’d engaged through an existing UK connection. After signing a distribution agreement, the Chinese distribution partner started well, quickly selling EducationCity’s software into several kindergartens in its home city in northern China.

But after this initial success, the partner’s sales pipeline grew far slower than expected. And, having glimpsed the appetite for its product  in the country, EducationCity knew there was a much larger opportunity across China than its partner seemed able to reach..

To get it right, EducationCity decided it needed to understand the Chinese ecosystem, assess additional potential channel partners and build out its channel sales network.

We first helped EducationCity to map out the market by meeting a large cross-section of industry stakeholders including educational software distributors, Chinese software developers and potential end customers – primarily international and Chinese kindergartens.

At one point, we even found ourselves singing along to English nursery rhymes in a classroom with 20 highly excited five-year olds – a sure-fire place to get good user feedback!

Ultimately, we generated a longlist of potential distribution partners in China. Together with EducationCity’s team, we then worked out a list of ’perfect partner criteria’ and,  based on this, reduced the longlist to a shortlist of potential suitors.

We visited all of these we spent time with them face-to-face. Due to the fragmented nature of the in-school educational software market in China, these visits spanned the entire country including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

After meeting 20 potential distribution partners, we eventually secured a major educational software developer to take EducationCity’s product to market. The final agreement included a product localisation plan, sales targets and a commitment from the distributor to hire a team dedicated to driving Education City’s business in China.

And - just occasionally - we still catch one of Shanghai team members humming along to that nursery rhyme in the office!

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