Over the last few years, China has increased its manufacturing capacities for various industrial goods to such an extent that now it has turned into a ‘World’s Factory.’ In fact, this manufacturing sector is now driving China’s economy.
There are several reasons why China is able to produce all kinds of industrial products in their country at an unbelievable cost. Therefore, if you are having your own business then importing the item will come out to be much cheaper than manufacturing in your own country.
However, sourcing any product made in China is easier said than done. There are several issues that one may confront while you try to source any item from China. Some of them are as follows:
There are very few people in China who are able to communicate in the English language as most of their business is done in their own language. Therefore, any businessman from a certain foreign country may face a severe language barrier while dealing with any Chinese company.
Also, their business culture is much different from the rest of the world and as a result, any outsider will be totally confused, while dealing with any Chinese company.
Another biggest issue is the quality of any Chinese product. Unless and until their product quality is perfectly monitored, there can always be a lot of rejections.
There can always be a chance of getting scammed as many trading agents may often pose as manufacturers and by looking at their website it is often difficult to make out whether you are dealing with a manufacturer or a trader.
Geographically China is located in the Far East and hence it may not be very convenient for the businessman in the European countries and the USA to visit China every now and then.
Therefore, it will be very essential to take the help of any reliable China agents for import export who is aware of the Chinese industries and also their language.
If you are not very much familiar with the concept of these import-export agents, then we will try to explain to you in detail in this article, so that you can appreciate how an agent is able to help you to order products from China.
In short, an import-export agent in China can be an individual or a company, who is well versed with the Chinese business practices and also various customs that are followed in China and also able to speak fluently the local language.
If you ever try to find a supplier in China and do Google search on the internet, then you may come across several such agents, but how will you know, which agent will be right for your kind of business? The following are nine things that you must consider while selecting suitable China agents for import export.
1. Location of your import-export agent
While you are going through the list of various agents in China, then try to look for the city from where they are operating. Are they a Chinese company, or any foreign company having an office located in China? Dealing with any foreign company will be much easier as compared to any native Chinese one.
As such, Chinese internet policies are very strict, and hence checking the full credentials of any Chinese agent will be very difficult. If you are selecting any foreign import-export agent, then you must ensure that the agent has got a well-staffed office located in China.
Also, check when the office was operational in China. Prefer to choose an agent who has a well-proven track record.
2. Check for references
Choose such an import-export agent who can offer you reliable references from many other businesses. You must spend some time talking to these references followed by checking their websites too.
Try to find out since, when they are working with that particular import-export agent and also what quality they provide. Also, ask them whether they will prefer to recommend that particular agent.
3. Experience of your import-export agent
You may find a very big difference between the way how Chinese businesses operate and how the businesses in most of the western countries operate. These differences are mainly because of the differences in customs, culture, and mind-set.
It will be wise to select an import-export agent who has got many years of experience working in China. Such an agent who is having extensive experience operating in China will likely have a wider network of reliable industries related to your business.
4. Obtain the necessary documentation
You must demand from your import-export agent to show you the relevant documents that can prove that they are in this business in a professional manner. The language used on those documents will speak a lot and you can get a fair amount of idea on how conversant the agent really is with this business.
The following documents will typically be provided by the China agents for import export:
· A detailed packing lists
· Bill of Lading
· Certificate of Origin
· Fumigation Certificate
5. Understand how they handle various quality issues
While sourcing any products from a certain foreign country, product quality inspection is very important. Therefore, you must ask the agent what kind of measures they generally have in place for dealing with quality issues. You must make it very clear right from the beginning that you are not going to accept products of poor or sub-standard quality.
6. Have they got the necessary license?
Any kind of business in China will need a relevant license as per Chinese law, which is also very strict, and anyone is allowed to conduct only a particular kind of business based on a certain specific license. Therefore, before you begin to work with your agent, you must not forget to verify their license.
7. How proficient they are in both Chinese and English
You must look for an import-export-agent who must be proficient in not only the Chinese language, but also both spoken and written English. Also, it will be preferable that the entire staff in their China office must be proficient in English, because you may have to speak with them directly also sometimes.
8. Expertise in products that you like to import
Every agent will have expertise in a certain special area. Therefore, you must ensure that your China agents for import export have prior experience in dealing with products that are of your interest.
You may demand from your agents to produce any records of their previous orders, or alternately you may demand buyer references. No agent will deal with a single type of product. Therefore, you must ask for any buyer references within the same type of industry as yours.
9. Select agents having good ethics
It has been reported that many Chinese agents often take kickbacks from various suppliers and such agents can find a supplier much faster, however, the product quality may often be questionable. You need to, therefore, ensure that you must only appoint such agents who can meet only your quality norms.
How can you find your right China import-export agent?
Now after narrowing down your list, here are a few helpful checklists for finding your right China agents for import export meant for your business.
1. What document that you will need
Create a certain document that includes both your sourcing agent's and your supplier's criteria. Take your own time to make sure you have covered all of your bases. Keep in mind that each country's business methods are different. Don't assume that just because something in your country is a norm that is understood by them too.
Include your scope of services, location, experience, language competence, and payment structure for your import-export agent. Make sure to specify the supplier's criteria, such as material types, quality, working conditions, and delivery times.
2. You must set a proper budget
When it is concerning selecting proper import-export agency for your company, your budget is crucial. Keep in mind that unforeseen expenses might happen at any time, so be a little flexible with the budget.
Make sure you are certain about how many units you want to make. Determine the price that you can pay for your goods and also the amount you are ready to pay your Chinese suppliers. Keep your expectations in check.
3. Decide what type of company you will prefer to conduct business with
You can classify your import-export agents into the following 3 main categories:
a. Single sourcing agents
Such agents are self-employed. The benefit is that they don't work with a lot of clients at once, so they can develop a personal bonding with your company.
A solitary person's disadvantage is that they may have limited relationships. It will be impossible to check a single person's credentials, which increases the hazard.
b. Sourcing agencies
These kinds of sourcing firms employ several other sourcing agents and each with its own specialisation. These businesses are more resourceful and, as a result, broader supply chains. On the downside, these firms are more expensive as compared to individual sourcing agencies.
c. Sourcing and logistics companies
Typically, these are huge corporations with sourcing also as one of their many departments. In most cases, these businesses also provide logistical and quality assurance services.
The largest advantage is that any single business can handle all of your activities, from locating a supplier and delivering your product. The disadvantage will be that they are quite costly. Furthermore, relying on a single supplier for all of your needs, particularly logistics, carries its own set of hazards.
As any type of agency will come with its own sets of pros and cons, hence you must decide which one will work the best, particularly for your kind of business.
How can you ensure to get a high-quality product?
One of the biggest concerns while importing from China remains the quality of Chinese products that you are going to get. If this part is not properly addressed then whole your effort of importing from this country will go in vain.
As far as the quality standards are concerned, there are very big differences between the Chinese manufacturing system and the Western manufacturing system. Generally, the quality standards of any western country are a much higher quality as compared to what standards China maintains.
Typically, it has been seen that their first product shipment that you will receive will perhaps be one of the best products that a particular factory can produce. However, over a period of time, you will find that the quality may slowly fade if you are not careful enough.
Most of the Chinese suppliers will generally start substituting materials with certain inferior materials. Therefore, it is very essential that you must specify in the purchase order itself, the basic components of the product to as many details as you can.
As an example, if you are selling T-shirts and you like to specify the type of fabric exactly what should be used. In case you are selling a certain cutlery set, then also specify exactly what specific variety of stainless steel must be used. The following are a few typical examples of materials that you would like to specify:
Fabric type and also weight
If you have specifically demanded from your supplier that you will prefer exactly the type of materials that must be used in your product, then normally they will not try to substitute them. In case you do not specify them, then they will assume that it is not that important to you, hence they can substitute that material as per their own will.
You need to always inspect the shipment before they are going to be despatched. You may also hire a certain reputed and trustworthy third-party inspection company. Although that may cost you high, it will be the money worth spending.
Despite various issues, still, China remains the world’s factory although there is increased tension with the western countries and also its bad reputation of producing sub-standard quality. Now China is also trying to improve its quality products and a few of its products are fantastic.
Also, competition among various manufacturers has increased tremendously and as a result, Chinese product quality has improved a lot. There are huge opportunities to make your business more competitive if you can manage your business well by having a trustworthy Chinese import-export agent on your side.