We have already discussed why you should hire a sourcing agent in China in our earlier article . So by now, we assume you are looking for one.
Being a sourcing agent in China has become an aspirational career for many, and hence, if you look for a sourcing agent, you will find them by the hundreds. Does that mean all of them are trustworthy? Hell no. Does that mean you will get what you expect? Oh no, not at all.
Hiring a sourcing agent is no small task. You definitely have too many to choose from. But you need to make an informed decision regarding your selection because this is not a one-time thing.
Tasks of a sourcing agent
Well, different sourcing agents offer different kinds of services. In general, they help you with sourcing and verifying quality suppliers, supervision of manufacturing, quality control, supervision of the loading process, supporting shipping, managing warehousing, controlling business risk, legal support, etc.
A sourcing agent is your ear, eye and nose in China. He will work in your favour and will be your representative while handling manufacturers. They are entrusted with finding new suppliers should you decide to migrate into a new line of products. They will verify and audit suppliers – old and new ones. They will do the price negotiation on your behalf and manage the entire supply chain.
Normally, if you want to engage in the above activities, you will be spending your valuable time in talking and negotiating with manufacturers or your valuable funds setting up an office in China. Of course, you can meet your manufacturer online. But are they trustworthy? Many times people receive damaged or inferior quality products which they can do nothing about. Moreover, sending money to an unknown foreign account exposes you to a fraud risk.
A sourcing agent can help to mitigate all these risks and beyond.
Things a good sourcing agent should have
If your sourcing agent has the following things, then we can call them a good sourcing agent.
Knowledge of the Chinese Market
In our opinion, this is the most important factor. Knowing the Chinese market is extremely important. While dealing with a Chinese manufacturer, there are several factors which come into play. Knowing the language is not enough. A strong knowledge of the market can be a deciding factor in any deal. For example, knowing how the customs in China operates can be a major factor affecting your shipment and the cost of your products. A sourcing agent who knows how to work this out will be an asset. Hence, while deciding the sourcing agent, this is a factor that you should consider foremost.
A great network
A sourcing agent’s work is nothing but networking. They have to maintain a good relationship with the manufacturer, logistics partners, regulators, customs officials and many more people. A sourcing agent with a good network will not only help in smooth sailing of your transactions, they will also help you find newer products and manufacturers.
Each industry has its own dealing mechanism. Like the Chinese market is unique, each industry is also unique. Each requires its own skills and expertise. Knowing the typical nature of each industry is a blessing. This will ensure that your sourcing agent will be able to help you not just in your current line of products but should you decide to diversify in future. Do not restrict yourself to your specific industry only. You never know what future may unfold.
Working with a team with technical knowledge will protect you against any hitch. Any good sourcing agent ensures that they have people onboard with sound technical knowledge. This helps in smooth communication between the buyer and the manufacturer which finally leads to producing the right quality goods at the right pricing.
Order management experience
Order management is not everybody’s cup of tea. A lot of things go into it entailing a number of details. Having people with prior experience in production line management or vendor management helps a sourcing agent carrying out the tasks seamlessly. It also helps them to understand what can go wrong and how to do damage control.
How to find a good sourcing agent in China
Now let us tell you how to find a good sourcing agent in China. We recommend the following steps:
References from people you know
Do you know of anyone who is already working with sourcing agents in China? Even if it is in a different industry, take references from them. Their sourcing agent might be able to recommend another sourcing agent in your industry if they cannot do it themselves. The best way to build trust is to rely on experiences of known people.
Reference from other service providers
Service providers from different industries refer customers to each other all the time. Manufacturers not just make products, they need other services like legal service, customs service, shipping, etc. Hence, they have their unique experiences. If you are already working with other service providers inside or outside China, ask them for references of sourcing agents in China. You will be amazed at what you find.
China is a vast country. Geographical location plays a major role. If your sourcing agent is located miles away from your manufacturer, auditing and monitoring may become a huge issue. In China, although each city has its own pillar industry there can be several manufacturing bases. Choosing a sourcing agent who is not far away from your manufacturer can be very beneficial in the long term.
Finding sourcing agents through a simple google search is not difficult. What is difficult is finding the right sourcing agents who can be relied upon. Having the right knowledge is crucial in making the right decisions. We have several blogs to guide you on various aspects of sourcing agents on this website. We hope reading them will help you.