China is one of the most popular countries to source products you are intending to sell. There are countless manufacturing units, and they can offer you both – great quality and amazing prices. All in all, if you are looking forward to importing a product, or customizing one, for sure you will find a suitable manufacturer in China.
However, sourcing product from a country with a completely different language and customs seems a little risky and daunting. This is the reason why most businesses look for reliable sourcing solutions in China. Fortunately, there are many sourcing agents in China.
Now, if this is your first-time sourcing products from China, you need to understand how sourcing agencies work here. Well, worry not as you are at the right place. In this blog post, we have discussed everything about sourcing agents in China. So, let’s get started…
Who is a sourcing agent and what services do they offer?
When you want to get a product manufactured in China, you have to find the right type of manufacturer, negotiate terms and prices with them, complete all the necessary legalities, and then finally your product will reach your shore.
To put it simply, it can be said that a sourcing agent is someone who can do all this hard work for you. Your sourcing agent will understand your requirements, and find a suitable manufacturer/supplier accordingly. Some services that Chinese sourcing agents provide are:
- Researching the market
- Shortlisting suppliers
- Negotiating terms and prices
- Quality Assurance
- Quality Control
- Pre-shipment inspection
- Handling customs clearance
Kinds of sourcing agents
When you are looking for reliable sourcing solutions, you are likely to come across 3 different kinds of sourcing agents. They are:
1. Sourcing agents working autonomously
Many individuals in China work as sourcing agents. Since they are not associated with any agency, they have a smaller number of clients and thus can provide extra attention to you. Nevertheless, keep in mind that these types of agents have limited sources and experience. Besides, finding reviews about their work is difficult as well. Then again, if you have strong references, you can choose to work with them.
2. Sourcing Agencies
These are big agencies that hire multiple sourcing agents. They usually have different sourcing agents to handle different product categories. For instance, they have someone to handle inquiries for electronics, while someone else for beauty products. In simple words, these agencies can help you get exactly what you want by providing a sourcing agent specifically experienced in your product type.
3. Sourcing companies that even offer other services
The third and last type are the companies that offer many services and sourcing is one of them. They even offer you services like quality inspection, shipping, fulfillment, etc. The services of these companies are the most expensive, but well the best part is you get everything under one roof.
Why is it smart to hire a sourcing agent in China?
There are many reasons why you will need to hire reliable sourcing solutions. A few of these reasons are:
- With a sourcing agent by your side, you will be able to reduce language barriers while working in China.
- Sourcing agents are great at negotiations, and hence can help you save a lot.
- Sourcing agents research the market and help you find reliable manufacturers, and by doing so they eliminate your risk of getting scammed.
- Sourcing agents have a huge network, and you can benefit from it.
Tips for finding a good sourcing agent
Give due importance to experience and reputation
Check for how long a company has been in the market. Longevity in the market ensures the company is reliable. After all, you cannot survive for very long in any market if you are not reliable. Some of the established sourcing agencies in China have experience of over a decade.
Understand their process
For an agent who has been around for years, describing and explaining the process of product sourcing should be easy. Understand how they work, and if it seems too complicated, that’s a warning sign.
Ensure they speak your language
You certainly need a sourcing agent who can communicate on your behalf with the suppliers. However, you must be able to communicate with the sourcing agent first.
Red flags to keep in mind
There is no doubt about the fact that there are many good sourcing agents in China. However, unfortunately, there are bad and unprofessional ones too. So, here are two major red flags to look for:
1. A sourcing agent who is paid by the manufacturer
If your sourcing agent is even paid by the manufacturer, it means they will not be completely loyal to you or at least become biased at some point.
2. A sourcing agent who charges a commission
Your sourcing agent is just not responsible to find you a suitable manufacturer, but they even undertake quality control and inspection work for you. Now, if they are being paid commission, why do you think they will tell you if there are any defects in the product?
How do sourcing agent charge?
1. Commission based
Some sourcing agents work on a commission basis, especially if you place repeated orders. The common commission percentage is anywhere between 2 to 10 percent. The commission fee is higher for smaller orders.
2. Per-hour charges
This is a simple model. You pay the agent as per the working hours. This means, irrespective of how big or small your order is, you simply pay them by the hour.
3. Pay an agreed flat fee
As per this system, you will pay the agent a fixed amount that you both agreed to at the beginning. There will be no hidden costs or charges involved.
Now, that you know everything about finding reliable sourcing solutions, we hope that you get exactly what you are looking for. Lastly, keep in mind, just don’t pick an agent because he/she is charging less. Remember – you get what you paid for.