Paper info: Relationship marketing, distribution channels, and export performance: The case of a Slovenian retailer in the Croatian market
Relationship marketing, distribution channels, and export performance: The case of a Slovenian retailer in the Croatian market
Gregor Pfajfar and Maja Makovec Brenčič
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.
This paper examines the theoretical and empirical contribution of the influence of relationship components on export performance throughout the entire distribution chain, presenting a study of buyer and seller (or distributor) relationships. We study the relationships in the emerging Slovenian economy, in which firms highly depend on imports and exports from international B2B markets, where business relationships and their components are important performance drivers. The findings are based on a case study of a Slovenian retailer that purchases home improvement and construction products from a German supplier and sells them in the Croatian market to its B2B buyers. The study was carried out in 2007. The qualitative part included 25 in-depth interviews with the retailer's employees in the Croatian market. A quantitative study of Croatian buyers of home improvement and construction products represents the second part of the empirical research. Using purpose-based sampling, 42 regular buyers answered the questionnaire. The study yielded some interesting results. The main indication was that export performance as a dependent variable was affected by two major factors: readiness to export and formation of the internationalization process, and the systematic creation and incorporation of relationships with potential buyers from the early (or preparatory) stages of the firm's entrance into the market, irrespective of the level of the distribution channel. It also showed that relationship marketing can be differently approached and understood in different cultures, and that marketers should be very cautious when designing "universal solutions" for relationships, as Palmer (1997) explained a decade ago.