Trade Directory
Frequently Asked Questions

The Answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about our Trade Directories of Worldwide Importers are provided on this web page.  The answers to these FAQ's will hopefully help you make a more informed decision about one or more of our international trade directories.

Some answers may seem a bit pointed, but we really DO want you to purchase the BEST trade directory for your business.  In addition to helping you decide which trade directory is best for you and your business, this information will also help you get maximum use your trade directory.

The questions and answers on this page have saved "many" customers a great deal of money and time by helping them get the "BEST" trade directory for their business.

By carefully reviewing the FAQ's and answers on this page you will discover that this information is also a very valuable guide to "maximizing" your results from your trade directory investment.

Contact Us

 if you do not find the answer to your question(s) on this page call us at 717-467-1835.  By clicking on the linked question(s) below, you will be taken to that question and the answer on the page or feel free to scroll through the page:

What type of businesses or organizations use or have purchased your Importer trade directories?

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

  • United States Government

  • The American Chamber of Commerce of Cairo, Egypt

  • PROMPEX - Peru's Government Agency for Export Promotion

  • State of Virginia Economic Development Program

  • China External Trade Development Council

  • Calgary - Alberta, Canada Public Library

  • Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank-Kenya)

  • Muskegon Community College

  • Both large and small manufacturers

  • All types of international businesses involved in import-export in 68 countries

How do your importer trade directories differ from mailing lists?
There really is no comparison between the two. You should first consider what you are getting for your trade directory investment. Second, you should then compare what you 'do not' get with a "mailing list" investment.

A mailing list provides you with "ONE TIME" use of their "names and addresses". This means, your ONLY method of contacting the listings from a standard mailing list is by physically mailing your information to them because a name and address is all you will get.  KEY POINT: With a mailing list you are contractually authorized to use their list ONE time and ONE time only. Therefore, if you wish to perform a second mailing - you have to purchase the list from the list owner again. 

Our trade directories give you "UNLIMITED USE" of "ALL" the valuable prospect information similar to what is displayed below.

Name of Point of Contact
Business Name
Complete Mailing Address
Products they are seeking to import (most are multiple product listings)
Type of Company: (Examples:) IMPORTER; DISTRIBUTOR; AGENT; WHOLESALER;       Manufacturer

E-mail (about 12% have provided an email)
Website URL (if provided - less than 5% have a website)
Bank Reference (if provided)
Year Established (if provided)
Number of Years in business (if provided)
Number of Employees (if provided)

Click Below To Review Sample Pages from our
International Trade Directory of Importers

Now also consider and compare the cost between a regular mailing list that only gives you the name and address for an average cost of about 10 to 12 cents a name for a ONE TIME use

While, on average, Our trade directory importer listings only cost an average of 6 to 9 cents each and you get far more valuable information about the importers than just their name and address.

You should also know that you will not find the type of information provided in our Trade Directories anywhere else in the world It simply does not exist, unless of course it has been pirated by someone who purchased the directory for the purpose of reselling the information, which is illegal.

How often are your directories updated?
All directories are updated each year on a rotating basis.  The following is an approximate schedule of those updates and information on how the trade directory data is compiled:

The Regional Trade Directories of Importers include the following Six (6) trade directories and the approximate month of their annual updates is also displayed:

  • European Importers - (September)
  • North American Importers - (July-August)
  • Asia/Pacific Importers - (February-March)
  • Middle Eastern Importers - (January)
  • South and Central America Importers - (November)
  • African Importers - (December-January)

The 50 Commodity (Product Specific) Trade Directories of Importers are updated once a year, starting in August and completed by October.

We receive a lot of questions about how the data for the Commodity (Product Specific) data is compiled so this is a good place to explain it.  If you are bored by details, then skip to the next question.

The 50 commodity or product specific trade directories are compiled from two different databases.  The first is a worldwide regional database of approximately 150,000 importer listings that is also compiled into the six regional trade directories.

The second database consists of approximately 34,000 Agents-Distributors-Wholesalers which is used to publish the Agents-Distributors-Wholesales Directory.  

BOTH databases mentioned above are used to compile the 50 product specific trade directories of importers once per year.  These two databases are updated continuously during the year as the regional directories and the agent directory are being updated.

The International Directory of Importer Agents, Importer Distributors and Importer Wholesalers is updated annually, sometimes twice a year - generally June is the annual and January is the second update if time allows.

The updating process for the regional directories and the Agents/Distributors/Wholesalers directory begins approximately 3 months prior to the publishing of the new edition with the mailing of questionnaires to all listings in the databases.

When deciding about purchasing a Commodity (product specific) Directory of Worldwide Importers you must recall how we said the Regional trade directories are updated throughout the year.  The ongoing updating process means that the time line of the data in the Commodity trade directories varies because it is compiled from data gathered over an entire period of one year.

Simply put, at the time the Commodity Directories of Importers are published, some of the data will be recent and others will have been obtained during the course of the past year. This is typical for any type of directory and is the dynamics of database management.

It is very important to recall, once again, that there is "NO" other source in the world that publishes these type of trade directories.  WATCH OUT for competitors who have pirated our information by buying a set of our directories 1, 3 maybe 5 years ago and have not updated it since they first pirated it.

Our International Email Directory of Worldwide Importers is updated annually in February or March.

All email addresses contained in this trade directory are verified within two months of the annual update.  The importer listings contained in this directory are also compiled from the two databases mentioned above (regional 150,000 and Agents/Distributors/Wholesalers 34,000).

About the trade directory updating process in general

Our publisher supplies you with the most current lists of importers available anywhere in the world.  I know that I am repeating myself but it is true - we have even had some of our BIG name online competitors buy our directories to help them update their lists - sorry - they want their names to be kept confidential. 

Our publisher makes extensive use of questionnaires physically mailed to importers to maintain the integrity of the database.  However, with each day that passes after the data is gathered, there is a percentage of data that ultimately becomes invalid.

On average, the overall rate of data degradation is 1 1/2 to 3 percent per month.  Even with strictest attention to detail, a percentage of the importer listings will become invalid due to Email address changes, a telephone number area code or prefix change, a new city code added, an address change or any number of reasons.  It is impossible to have any database that is 100% complete and/or accurate and if someone tells you that theirs is, you better hold tight to your wallet and run. 

As a means of offsetting this degradation and to provide you with the maximum return on your investment,  we now include a FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to our publishers exclusive online trade leads service that includes 52 weekly updates.  This applies to any of the six regional, 50 commodity (product specific), agent/distributor/wholesaler or email directories that you decide is best for you and your business.

If you check the above listed update schedule and the trade directory you are considering is within one or two months of it's update, we suggest you check with us prior to ordering to ensure your order will not be held up pending completion of the annual update.

All it takes is ONE lead from ONE of our trade directories to be pay for your trade directory and provide ongoing profits for years to come.

Is each item of information in your trade directories verified?
Our publisher accepts the data supplied by an importer as being accurate at the time it is submitted.  They make extensive use of questionnaires to compile and maintain the integrity of the database.  

The cost to "verify every item" in the listing would be enormous and cause the price of the trade directories to be increased 100 fold.

How long have your trade directories been in publication?
The regional directories have been published since 1973 and the commodity directories have been published since 1979.  Coble International has been in business since 1988 (check our company page) and our publisher has been in business since 1971 which should give you an indication of how well received the trade directories have been, i.e., you do not stay in business that long if your customers are not satisfied with your product.

Do your directories contain E-mail addresses?
Yes, about 12% of the importer listings have provided an Email address.  But, please note that with the exception of our
International Email Directory of Worldwide Importers we DO NOT market the Regional, Commodity or Agent/Wholesaler trade directories as "E-mail directories".

Importers from North America provide the highest percentage of listings with e-mail addresses, followed by European companies, then Asian companies. The number of email addresses is growing with each update, but we will never market our regional, commodity or Agent/Wholesaler directories as "email" directories.

Special Note:  The email address of importers is probably the first bit of data to become outdated or invalid in our directories.  Why?  Simply because of the enormous and growing amount of SPAM or JUNK emails that are being sent to people and businesses around the world.

Our directories are marketed worldwide and customers from 67 countries have purchased them. The unfortunate fact is, we do not know the purpose nor do we have any control over what or how a person uses their directory. We know that many trade directories have been acquired by SPAM artists who immediately begin sending our importers volumes of junk emails but we have no way of knowing that when they purchased a directory.

Ultimately, the volume of the Spam becomes too burdensome and many importers abandon their email address and set up a new one.  In the case of our trade directories, this new email address will not be reflected until the next update or possibly not at all, if the importer does not wish to be subjected to the waste of their valuable time caused by Spam email.

A good example of this is an email address we had for nearly 8 years. Our spam mail count  kept growing until it reached 800 to 900 EACH DAY. So after much angst, in February 2004, we closed the email address permanently because it was taking too much time to sort out what was good and what was junk.

Do your trade directories contain website addresses?
Yes, but only a few and only if the Importer has supplied this information on their questionnaire. In regards to the number of importers who list websites, we would say the percentage is much smaller than even those who supply an email address or probably less than 5 percent.

How accurate are your E-mail addresses, Phone numbers, website addresses, etc.?
Our trade directories are as accurate as humanly possible.  Our updating process is explained more fully in an above FAQ answer.

What must be said is that many importers submit their questionnaires handwritten and the information is "interpreted" and transcribed as accurately as possible when the data entry personnel input it into their database.  

Some importers may make a typographical error on any of the important contact information items and as you know, all it takes is ONE digit or letter to keep a phone call, fax, or email from going through, or for a website to load.

We have also found that many importers use Free e-mail accounts when they get their first Internet access.  Then as their business evolves, they move up to a more advanced email account or begin getting so much Spam mail in their free account that they either forget about or just simply drop their free account.

In regards to telephone and fax numbers, typographical errors, poor handwriting and the biggest problem for all directory publishers.  Then you have the incredible growth of new phone number prefixes, area codes, regional codes and city codes.  We have had 4 or 5 area codes added in our home state of Pennsylvania in just the last 2 years and new prefix numbers seem to be added to our local phone exchanges several times a year.

Some importers add extra digits to their phone numbers that may be required within their country but not required by you when calling from another country.  Simply because you received a "this is not a working number" recording does not necessarily mean the number is incorrect, it may require a little bit of research on your part to determine what the correct dialing sequence is for that city, country, province, etc..

A one digit change in the Area code or prefix could mean the difference between getting through or not.  You should always remember that just because you cannot get through via one communication method, does not mean that particular importer is no longer in business.  

If you do not get through by email, then try their fax number and if their fax does not work, try the telephone number and if that does not work and this listing really sounds potentially lucrative to you, send them a letter or move on to the next listing.

Webster dictionary defines "directory" as:  1 a : a book or collection of directions, rules, or ordinances b : an alphabetical or classified list (as of names and addresses).

Our trade directories provide you with the most comprehensive alphabetical and classified source of importer listings in the world.  The trade directories offered here will direct or "POINT" you to a potential importer/buyer who has expressed an interest in purchasing the products listed. In some instances, it may take you a little more effort to contact them than just hitting the send key on your Email program or fax machine.

Could you send us a sample of the leads so we can see the format?
You can click on either of the links below to see how the data in our trade directories is formatted to include the company name, address, name of contact person, year established, number of employees, bankers, telephone and fax numbers, business activity in addition to a detailed listing of products currently being imported (as mentioned above - e-mail and website addresses are included, if supplied by the importer). 

Click to View Samples of Actual Importer Leads from our Trade Directories

Click to View Samples of Actual Pages from one of our Trade Directories

Why are your trade directory leads better than what I can get for free on the Internet?
Good question. Part of the answer was given above where we explained the process by which our publisher updates the trade directory importer listings. 

It costs our publisher tens of thousands of dollars annually to mail out questionnaires to the importers in their databases.  This is an enormous expense, but one that helps build a quality index of potential buyers for your products that you will not find anywhere else in the world.

EMPHASIZE the last sentence above, i.e., "quality index of potential buyers for your products that you will not find anywhere else in the world!"  

Before investing in one of our trade directories, we encourage you to "test" your follow up methods and if they do not work with other trade leads, then work on them until they do.  Purchase one of our trade directories only after you have a "proven" follow up method of communication that brings you results.

Our trade directories are just that - DIRECTORIES - they direct or point you to new potential buyers.  They are cannot work magic and complete the sales process for you.

In addition to having a proven follow up, you must make sure your product is competitively priced.  There are thousands of businesses purchasing our directories each year which means both you and your products still have to compete for a sale to an importer listed in our directory.

Your products must be of the quality and price that an importer is seeking.  If an importer does not respond to your follow up, remember, they are just like any other sales prospect and are under NO obligation to reply to you.

Now getting back to comparing our importer listings to the trade leads you can find free of charge on the Internet. Consider the "value" of "FREE" and the value of your time in following up with the many leads you will find on the Free Internet bulletin boards.  

There is no cost to the person who lists him or herself as an importer on the free internet bulletin boards.  It takes very little time (or effort) to fill out the online information most trade boards request (there is even software that now automates this process to hundreds of these boards around the globe). This type of "open" and "free" application process means the quality of the leads is very suspect, at best and extremely time wasting at worst. 

In many instances, the people using the online trade boards and listing themselves as importing buyers are what we call "importer want to be's" or "wannabe's".  They are people who have no experience in the field and will, in most instances, be a total waste of your precious time and money. 

Our own experience has proven this fact and we have had "many" other experienced exporters relate to us that they too have found FREE TRADE LEAD boards to be a total waste of their time.

Do you provide any assurances or guarantees that Importers will respond?
NO. The response or "non-response" from an importer depends upon YOU - your follow up methods and your products prices and quality.

If no reply is forthcoming, it could also mean that the importer has filled their current requirements and they may keep your materials on file for future reference.  Just like you seeking a buyer, they are seeking a supplier and if their current needs have been filled, they are under no obligation to respond to your letter, fax, email or phone call.

Think for a moment, how many emails you receive, how many pieces of mail a day, how many telemarketing calls, how many faxed sales messages that are trying to sell you something and you summarily dispose of them.

The importer may need a new supply in the next 3 months, 6 months or at some point in the future. They may or may not take the time to reply or contact you now, but will file your information away for later and contact you when they are ready to buy a new supply of product.

Here again, the importance of your right to use the listings over and over and over again comes into play.  Nothing is preventing you from following up again, again and again as often as you like when using one of our trade directories.

By sending a professional follow up correspondence (a fax is a thousand times better than an email) that you have tested and which is proven, you are "planting the seeds" for a future harvest.  We still receive inquiries from advertisements and press releases we posted 6, 7 and sometimes 10 years ago.

Because of the huge growth in Spam Emails, I believe it is better to make initial contact via a Fax, Telephone or regular mail.  Once a dialogue has been established, then Email will prove to be your preferred and most valuable communication tool next to having your own WEBSITE.

A website is the VERY BEST method for you to advertise your products to a WORLDWIDE audience.  There is no EXCUSE today for not having a website when hosting services cost so little. Here is a link to what is proven to be one of the easiest to use web site building systems developed yet - go check it out now: Web Site Building System For Exporters and Importers

Your website can rapidly become your very best marketing tool for exposing your products and/or services to the world and the least expensive one to maintain and promote.  Instead of sending large files attached to an email, you simply refer a prospect to your website or a specific web page.

A website will also help you with your domestic sales as well.  A health supplement manufacturer we represent within our website to help them attract new foreign business has found that the web page we set up has attracted hundreds of new potential domestic (USA) buyers in addition to the international inquiries.

Having a website means your products and/or services are available for anyone in the world to view 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Our business grew almost 500% in sales in just 3 years using the Internet to market our services.

What is the cost of your trade directories?
Each trade directory has a different price based on the number and type of listings contained in it.  Find the particular type of trade directory you are interested in by clicking on the appropriate link below.  Prices are listed at or near the bottom of the page.

Regional Trade Directories of  Importers

Commodity (Product Specific) Trade Directories of Importers - this is an index page - just scroll down and look for the "Title" of the trade directory that fits your industry and click on that link to visit the web page describing that trade directory.

International Directory of Importer Agents-Distributors-Wholesalers

International Email Directory of Worldwide Importers

How much are the shipping costs and how are the directories shipped?
AIR shipping costs are included in the trade directory prices shown on the web pages. Within the U.S., UPS 2nd Day Air is the mode of shipment, outside the U.S.A., the US Postal Global Air Express are used.

How long does it take to deliver?
Generally, your trade directory will be shipped the same day if received before 12 Noon PCT or the next business day.  (Please be sure to check the UPDATE SCHEDULE shown above before ordering to ensure your directory is not on hold pending release of the next edition).  

An example of when your order would ship:  If your order is received on a Thursday before 12 noon PCT and your credit card is able to be processed, your order may ship that afternoon or no later than the next business day. If your order is received on a Friday, it will most likely ship out on the following Monday. 

You will be notified via e-mail on the day after your directory is shipped that will include the tracking number for your order.  If you are located in the USA, you can track your order at the UPS web site and if you are located outside the USA, you can track your order via the US Postal Service website at

Delivery in the USA is by UPS 2nd Day Air which means that barring any carrier failure to deliver, you should receive your order by 2 business days "AFTER" the date it ships.  In Canada and other countries it is generally stated by the US Postal service that they will deliver within 7-10 business days after date of shipment, however most deliveries arrive more quickly.

The only other reason for a delay would be when the directories are in the final stages of an update and your order will not be processed until the updated edition is ready to ship.  You will be sent an email notifying you of the schedule.

Can you provide us with an exact number of importers for a "specific" product that are listed in a commodity buyer directory?
Sorry, but there are just too many combinations of products to get this specific. If you want idea on a specific group of products, then the
Commodity (Product Specific) Trade Directories of Importers is your best way of finding this information.

Just click on the above link, when the new page is opened, scroll down to the 50 commodity trade directory titles and click on the one that best matches your products.  The number of importers for that group of products will be shown at the top of each of the commodity trade directory web pages.

Here we would like to offer some free marketing advice. When you purchase one of our trade directories, you should "think outside the box".  What we mean by this is - don't be so self limiting that you only contact those importers who specifically list your products as those they are interested in buying.  

Yes, the importer listings that list your products should be your very first contacts, but you should also contact other importers who have listed their interest in other products similar to those you export.

They may not have listed your "specific" product because they are not currently dealing with it or they may have run out of listing space before getting to your product type or any number of reasons. 

Your trade directory is a very valuable business resource and if an importer is listed in the same commodity trade directory or lists products even remotely similar to yours, they could turn out to be one of your most valuable trade leads.  

In many instances, these "outside the box" trade leads have already established outlets for similar products and they may be able to very easily add your line to their portfolio, if you offer them a quality product at a competitive price.

I cannot find importers for the products we are exporting, do you have any listings for it?
If you have reviewed all of our directory pages, applied the principles of looking "outside the box" as described in the previous FAQ answer and you still have not found the particular product listed in any of the trade directories, then your product range may be too narrow.  

Or, we simply do not have any importer listings under the same product name as you are using.  We used to see many searches in our weekly website search engine summary that were just "too" specific for which they will "never" find a trade lead anywhere.  One that comes to mind was an inquiry for importers of "gray woven fabric".

Now how many importers do you think would have listed "gray woven fabric" as the product they are interested in buying?  A better search term would be "woven fabrics" or simply "fabrics" and or "textiles".  

If you note that I used quotation marks around these search terms.  The quotation marks will help you narrow your search findings when you use a search engine and potentially save you a lot of time sifting through the search engine search results.

What type of software is used on the trade directory CD-Roms?
It is a proprietary software developed by and for our publisher. The CD-ROM's require an IBM compatible PC, with Windows 95 (or later), 16 MB RAM, 60MB available hard drive space, Windows supported printer and CD-ROM drive. 

This software allows you to perform the following functions:

View complete company information on screen. 
Create and print mailing lists. 
Print out company listings with detailed information. 
Print automatically addressed form letters on your printer. 
Locate individual importing firms by name.

It is important to note that our CD-ROM's are not intended for nor do they allow for massive downloading and manipulating data into other database systems or programs.

The software is standalone and not compatible with other software.  The software on the CD Rom merely provides a convenient way to view the data. You can sort by region, country and commodities listed on our index. It has it's own word processor and you can print your own mailing labels.

Is there a difference between the Importers in your Regional and Commodity trade directories and the Trade Directory of Agents, Wholesalers and Distributors?
Yes. The Agents, Wholesalers and Distributors directory is a separate database of contacts which is updated on an annual basis (usually June and again in January) and is only available in a Printed format (2 large Ring binders).  The Agent-Distributors-Wholesalers database is used with the Regional trade directory database to compile the 50 Commodity Directories.

May we contact some of your previous customers?
Our customers are business people, just like you, who have purchased their trade directories from us and in doing so they did not sign on to be a marketing person for our business.

They do not have the time, personnel or interest in responding to hundreds, if not thousands of emails or telephone calls - would you?

We currently have a References and Testimonials web page that includes an entire guide on how to perform due diligence (i.e., checking us out) on our business and any business, both offline and online - you are encouraged to use these resources.

Our company page and specifically the "due diligence" information is very interesting and a worthwhile page to bookmark for future use.  Please be our guest to use this valuable international business resource web page and refer it to others, we are proud of our business and you can see just how open we are when you visit the References and Testimonials web page.

Can we pay by Bank Wire Transfer?
Yes, and we encourage you to do so if you are located outside the USA and Canada because it will expedite your ordering process.  

There is a link near the bottom of the order box on each trade directory web page that you may use to submit a request for Pro Forma Invoice which you will need when obtaining a Wire Transfer from your bank.

Wire transfers can take several days until the funds are actually deposited into our account.  As soon as your funds are confirmed by our bank, your order will be processed for shipment and you will be notified of the tracking information.

Do you have a guarantee? - VERY IMPORTANT - PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION TO OUR PRINTED DIRECTORY GUARANTEE - READ IT SEVERAL TIMES and if you do not understand the significance of this guarantee to you click here to contact us.

PRINTED DIRECTORIES:  All our printed directories are unconditionally guaranteed by our publisher. If any of our printed directories fail in any way to live up to your expectations, you may return the directory within 30 days of invoice date for a full refund.

CD-ROM DIRECTORIES:  Defective CD-Roms may be exchanged for the same title only. Non-defective software (CD-Roms) are not returnable.

COMBINATION PRINTED & CD-ROM DIRECTORIES:   Any printed directory may be returned within 30 days for a refund. Defective CD-Roms may be returned for same title replacement only. Non-defective CD-Roms are not returnable. When a combination printed & CD-Rom directory has been purchased, only the printed version may be returned for refund. In such cases the refund will amount to the total invoice amount less the price of the individual CD-Rom(s) had they been purchased separately.

Do your trade directories include "All" the Importers for a particular region or area or commodity?
Our publisher DOES NOT seek out ALL importers or even the largest importers of a given area or commodity. They actually attempt to locate "MID-SIZE" to "SMALLER" sized importing companies, although there are many large Importers included in all of our trade directories.

Our trade directories most likely will not include any of the importers you may deal with because most of the importers you deal with already have an established source of supply - YOU.  Therefore they are not actively listing themselves as active buyers who are seeking new sources of supply - in other words, be glad you do not find them listed.

Our publisher strives to publish trade directories of importers who are truly interested in buying.  They do not and will not publish importer listings just for the sake of "pumping up the numbers" as a marketing ploy.

So the bottom line is this, NO, we do not claim and never will claim to publish "every" Importer for a given region or commodity.

So there you have it.  Some of the most important questions previous customers have asked us along with our answers.  I hope this page has helped you make an informed decision but if you have questions not answered here, by all means click here to contact us or call us at 717-467-1835.    Here again are direct links back to our trade directories:

Regional Trade Directories of  Importers

Commodity (Product Specific) Trade Directories of Importers

International Directory of Importer Agents-Distributors-Wholesalers

International Email Directory of Worldwide Importers

International Trade
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