Direct-import refers to a type of business importation involving a major retailer (eg. Wal-Mart) and an overseas manufacturer often located in Asia. A retailer typically purchases products designed by local companies that can be manufactured overseas.
In a direct-import program, the retailer cuts out the local supplier (colloquial middle-man) and buys the final product directly from the manufacturer, possibly saving 50% or more in added costs. This type of business is fairly recent and follows the trends of the global economy.