Product sourcing in China without a buying agent is like navigating rough waters; even the experienced swimmers would have difficulty having a fault-free experience. But some of you might pose this question that how hard can it be? After all, you are only importing goods the same way you would shop from websites like eBay or Alibaba. The answer is, China is a large country, and as the world's factory, it produces a world's worth of supply of goods. Imagine, one country operating as a worldwide manufacturer does sound insane, yet it is the truth. In such cases, the options of sourcing products are endless.
So while navigating a heavily saturated and intensely competitive supplier market, a buying agent can help make things easier for you. However, things can spiral downwards because people pose as sourcing agents to grab some money from the foreign importers.
If you are reading this article, you are most likely looking for a helping hand in Guangzhou. But those interested in finding and hiring a Chinese buying agent irrespective of the region might want to know a bit about Guangzhou and why it is such a popular destination for product sourcing in China.
Guangzhou is one of the regions in China that is quite a popular sourcing destination for consumer products, mainly fashion and its related accessories. People usually like to source products about jewelry and clothing. Here, you will find different wholesale markets such as Guangzhou Zhongda Textile market, Guangzhou Zhanxi clothing market, Shahe wholesale market, to name a few. There are also markets catered towards children's apparel, such as the Zhongsanba market. However, if you are looking to source shoes or even furniture, Guangzhou should be your destination to hunt for a supplier.
Now that we have you convinced on why Guangzhou is such a sought-after destination, let us look at why you need a buying agent.
We weren't over-estimating when we told you that navigating Chinese wholesale markets is equivalent to swimming a thunderous sea. One of the sole reasons you probably should be getting a buying agent is because their basic duty is to guide you about the market. Here are a few reasons why you should be getting a buying agent for product sourcing
The basic job of a buying agent is to take away the responsibility of doing market research for suppliers or potential manufacturers for the product that you want to order. The tasks that would have fallen on you, such as reaching out to potential Chinese factory owners, are done by the buying agent only. Not only will they research reliable manufacturing partners for you but, they can also help you in determining which product to source from a particular region. That benefit can be quite useful for some who aren't sure what they want to source from China and would like expert advice.
Some of you might have been skeptical about sourcing from China for the very reason that language is one of the biggest hurdles that you would encounter. Mandarin is one of the primary languages spoken in China by about 70% of the Chinese population. Even though many countries are now offering Mandarin classes, it isn't sufficient for you to bypass the need for a buying agent. Since you cannot communicate in the Chinese language, a buying agent would do it on your behalf. So you would not need to worry about your product requirements getting miscommunicated to the manufacturer or supplier.
Who doesn't love a good discount or a sale? We sure do! The same concept applies to hiring a sourcing agent. Their job is to cater to all your needs regarding product sourcing. Hence, they will work on bringing you the best prices in your budget. They are locals and seem to move in and out of factories, and mingling with suppliers allows them great connections. These connections come in handy when you are looking to source ingredients that may be rare or costly. Good negotiation skills allow them to give you bulk discounts on huge orders.
When we import products from other countries, we hate that one term we always see at checkout: ' import taxes.' A similar situation also occurs when sourcing from China. Even though the government has made it easy for Chinese factories to export and for foreign investors to invest in the country, there are areas where duties are applied. A sourcing agent will help you navigate these waters, especially the long paperwork that comes with it. The tax forms are specifically very challenging to fill out for those new to product sourcing from China. It is understanding of local customs that would allow you to cut through the red tape faster.
Now that we have probably convinced you on getting yourself a buying agent let's focus on how we can look for one.
Located in southern China within the province of Guangdong, Guangzhou is an industrial hub that means buying agents are likely to be present over here. So now that you are on your way to finding the right Guangzhou buying agent for yourself, here is how you should be doing it:
The internet is full of sources, and if you type in 'buying agents in Guangzhou' or 'sourcing agents in Guangzhou,' you will have several results. But, this is where your research begins because you can't click on the first result and say yes to the first buying agent's details you see.
This step seems like the most obvious answer because you would be looking for Guangzhou buying agents online. However, that doesn't mean you should randomly start searching for a buying agent online. There can be many scams that can easily occur in the online world, and you are just a click or more like a contract away from having all of your hard-earned investment stolen from you.
Hence, it would help if you always looked for a highly reputable buying agent because you are giving them the most important job of your business: to become your buying partner.
The internet has taught us a lot of things, so use that to your advantage. Watch reviews of finding and hiring buying agents on YouTube or Dailymotion platforms to familiarize yourself with the process. So that you don't feel alienated or paranoid when looking for Guangzhou buying agents. By watching videos of other people's experiences of finding online suppliers, you will feel more comfortable and self-aware about diving into the search.
When searching through a potential list of buying agents on the internet, you have to focus on their location and experience. This is one of the most important steps to carry about properly; if your buying agent is not from the same region or city where you want to source your products, it is of no use. Your buying agent must be located in the same region since China's wholesale market is concentrated in different regions according to various product categories. That way, they would be familiar with the suppliers and manufacturers of the region. You can also trust them more to provide you with good rates for your order and sourcing various ingredients or materials for you. Not to mention that even buying agents are specialized according to the products sourced in the region where they are operating.
The second thing that you should look for is the experience that these Guangzhou buying agents will have. Some contact details of buying agents will appear to tick all of your boxes except for one. This would be that they have not listed their previous clients, the number of years they have been in the supply chain industry, and the type of products they have sourced in the past. This allows you to see whether the buying agent is legitimate by looking at their track record. It will also prevent you from handing commission fees to impostor agents posing as buying agents in Guangzhou just to commit scams.
Even if everything seems good on paper, it doesn't hurt to check with any references in China about the sourcing agent's location, qualification, and experience. This is mentioned in our guide because scams are very common and the worst part is that they are less and less fake. So it is difficult to figure out whether you are dealing with a genuine buying agent or some mafia posing as a team of buying agents. Just taking the time to go through their website and research the time they have worked with the said sourcing agent can tell you all you need to know about how reliable and reputable they are.
Since language barriers do exist, that does not mean you can blindly trust a Guangzhou buying agent just because they state that they can speak Mandarin. Mandarin as a language is only spoken by 70% of the population. There is a certain probability that the buying agent you find speaks other local dialects. Apart from just the fluency of the Chinese language, knowing English and communicating in it is another requirement that must be met. If your buying agent only communicates in Chinese languages, there is only so much you can do by translating his messages through Google Translate. Your buying agent is the sourcing partner of your business, and you should be able to communicate with them in English. If you hire a language interpreter to translate the conversation between you both, then the purpose of finding a buying agent is useless. That is why a good and reputable buying agent needs to be proficient in both your language and Mandarin.
Using these steps, you can find the perfect list of Guangzhou buying agents that tick mark all security boxes for you. So, now you have to choose which one to hire among them.
Just like a company hires their perfect candidates through a mix of assessment and an interview. Similarly, you could use the same tactic to see which Guangzhou buying agent would be the most suitable.
Before you finalize which buying agent you will work with, here are some questions that you should ask them, preferably in an interview.
Sometimes everything seems really good on paper, but when you want to see how far a buying agent is willing to cater to you as their potential client, you should ask them about potential factories' locations. Moreover, if you happen to be physically present in China or even in your home country, a buying agent should be able to provide you with a virtual tour of the manufacturer's place or the supplier's warehouse. That way, you can rest easy that you are selecting the right Guangzhou buying agent. If a buying agent will refuse to show you a factory, it means you have zero control over this potential relationship with the buying agent. That should be your first red flag not to go for a contract with such a buying agent.
Since Amazon took over the eCommerce industry, more Chinese products have started storming the world market. Buying agents are increasing in number. Some of these buying agents are usually individuals who will work hard to please you as the client. But, the problem is that they are trying to do the task that is worthy of a team, and as such, they can bump into problems. Some sourcing agents tend to disappear as well as quickly as they appeared to you because they know you cannot track them since they are one in many within China. Having a team that is working with a proper company means that you can hold your buying agents accountable.
Since China has such a diverse product portfolio market with industries and factories of particular products concentrated in specific regions, asking your buying agent their product specialty is a good decision. A buying agent specializing in buying clothing would be different from a buying agent specializing in buying injection-molded products known as plastic. This is because the knowledge required about inspection, quality control, and materials is vastly different in both scenarios.
This question links back to when we discussed checking a buying agent against the references they provide. The type of references you should be focusing on is customer orientated where a buying agent has catered to product sourcing for other clients like before. This allows you to do a thorough background check on their services and reputation; in a way, you get a client review for them. If a buying agent provides you with customer references, it means they are confident about the services they offer, and they have nothing to hide.
Looking for a buying agent in Guangzhou doesn't have to be as difficult as some make it out to be. With the right research and background check, you could be on your way to starting your online business by sourcing products from Guangzhou. A buying agent will save you a lot of time in terms of contacting potential manufacturers, carrying out quality inspections, and delivering your order safe and sound to you.
That is why we at Maple Sourcing believe that you come first. With the range of services and a professional team proficient in local and your language, we ensure that your requirements will be adequately communicated to a manufacturer. If you wish to avail yourself of any of our services, please reach out to us.