It is not uncommon today to source raw materials or finished products from a country that manufactures at a low cost. One of the most successful countries that manufactures products for other countries is China. China does not only produce products at cheaper rates, but also delivers quality that is difficult to match at the given price.
Now, most big companies source products from China on their own. However, companies that are in the beginning stage or don’t have enough resources to invest in the process of product procurement turn to product sourcing agents or procurement agents in China. There are countless benefits of working with these agents, but the top benefit is they surely help in growing your business. Let’s see what exactly can a sourcing agent do…
First off, there is no specific list of things that a sourcing agent can or cannot do. Most sourcing agents either work independently or are part of a bigger sourcing company. Depending on how they work and their level of expertise, they can help your company in the following ways:
Help in identifying suppliers
Undertake price research and comparison
Acquire product samples and prototypes
Ensures quality assurance and undertakes necessary inspections
Carry out product testing
Takes care of shipping and logistics
Handles Customs and VAT procedures.
In simple words, procurement agents are like your own staff member working in China on your behalf. Their primary goal will be to source quality products at the lowest possible cost and deliver the same to your country.
They can be working independently with just one client at a time or can be working for multiple companies simultaneously.
Does your company need a sourcing agent?
Well, it is not compulsory to hire a sourcing agent in China, and of course, you can work on your own. However, there are many ways in which a sourcing agent can help you, especially if you…
Have limited staff
Most small-scale businesses have limited employees and thus it becomes difficult to source products and supervise products coming from China. In such a scenario, it might become difficult to go all the way to China and handle all the steps of product procurement by yourself. On the other hand, hiring a sourcing agent might seem expensive at first, but without a doubt, it will prove to be worth it.
Sourcing products from multiple suppliers
If your business is offering a wide variety of products, you might have to work with different suppliers, and not just one. In this scenario, negotiating with multiple manufacturers and handling multiple inspections all at once becomes difficult.
However, sourcing agents who are experts at handling multiple companies and manufacturers at the same time can handle this situation efficiently.
Can’t visit China in person for inspections
China surely manufactures products for most of the other countries of the world. However, this does not mean you can blindly trust their manufacturers and purchase products without inspection.
It is best if you or someone who is solely working for you undertakes quality inspection in China throughout different levels of production. If you are not able to make in-person visits or are not able to send an employee of yours, it is best to depend on a sourcing agent for this work. Procurement agents make in-person visits to the factories, supervise the product quality, and if needed even hire a quality control inspector to test your products.
Hiring a procurement agent
Countless companies and individuals work as sourcing agents in China. However, your experience will be good only if you choose to work with either a reputed firm or an individual agent who has good reviews.
Nevertheless, when you are finding a sourcing agent, make sure you look for the following qualities:
Good knowledge and multiple contacts
China is a manufacturing hub. There are many different areas in the country where different types of manufacturing units are developed. Only a sourcing agent with excellent knowledge and contacts will know multiple producers and thereby help you find a perfect one. They will contact Chinese factories and inquire about raw materials, prices, production timelines, etc. Ultimately, a knowledgeable agent will help you in getting a good deal.
Knows multiple languages
Only an agent who knows multiple languages and overall has excellent communication skills will be able to handle negotiations efficiently. Furthermore, you want to work with an agent who is fluent in your language and thus will be able to understand your emails perfectly. It is only after this that he/she will be able to communicate your requirements to the manufacturer without any confusion.
Can work in a team
Sourcing directly in China is not an easy task. There are many things to handle and it needs working with many different individuals. Only procurement agents who have top-notch co-ordinations skills and know how to work as a team can secure good products and deals for you.
Above all, a sourcing agent with a cool and calm head and enthusiastic personality will be able to keep open communications between your company and the producers.
Good with legal terms and regulations
When any company sources products from another country, a lot of legalities become a part of the equation. In such a situation, a sourcing agent who is well-versed in all these rules and regulations proves to be very helpful. Right from the point of acquiring raw materials to delivering the finished goods to your country, your sourcing agent will handle plenty of paperwork on your behalf.
Lastly, keep in mind that China is producing thousands of different types of products for buyers around the globe. Sometimes it might take months and even years to understand the production mechanism of a particular product. In such a scenario, competent and expert procurement agents are the ones that help businesses to grow.
An expert will know how to acquire good quality raw material, find a reliable manufacturer, plan proper quality control steps, control the production cost, negotiate well, and ultimately get the product manufactured and delivered. So, it will surely be in your favor to hire a sourcing agent in China.