A sourcing agent in China is a professional that businesses hire to find a suitable product manufacturer. He represents your business and as a buyer finds a suitable supplier, negotiates prices, follow-ups, inspects quality control, testing, compliance, logistics arrangement, shipping, and more. If there are any more services needed before this you can discuss about them right from the start.
China is a global leader in the manufacturing niche. New entrepreneurs wanting to sell private label products will need to browse around for reliable manufacturers in China to source their items.
Sourcing company vs. sourcing agent
Sourcing companies and sourcing agents are deemed the same. For the majority of purposes and intents, it is real but the concept of both differs. Therefore, know the difference before hiring.
A sourcing company is a team with people specializing in different roles within the agency. Each team member has a specific task. It includes sourcing, logistics, shipping, warehousing, and product inspection China. They offer wide flexibility in finding manufacturers as well as working with multiple customers at the same time.
The sourcing agent is an individual, who can be hired as a full-time employee. The agent can have a few people working for him in a home or small office. They also have good trading experience in the sourcing marketplace.
Why hire a sourcing agent?
The business culture in China is exclusive. Navigating through their complicated business landscape can be hard for foreigners, who don’t speak their language. The most essential aspect is choosing a credible sourcing agent, who can help you connect to an ideal manufacturer in China.
1. Understand manufacturing supply chain
As the sourcing agent in China is familiar with the manufacturing supply chain, you gain a comprehensive overview of different suppliers suitable for your project. The sourcing agent is familiar with the supplier’s strength and factory basics. Many Chinese OEM manufacturers are not visible on the internet or are not active.
2. Saves time dealing with details
On the internet, there are numerous manufacturers. DIY looking for a reliable Chinese supplier means spending time with several factories ordering samples, screening, and negotiating prices. After you find the perfect manufacturer there are MOQs, inspections, alterations, freight, forwarding, customs, and final delivery to consider. Choosing the correct manufacturer is a major undertaking. A little slip and your business, as well as your success, will be at stake.
3. Connects with a reliable manufacturer
The sourcing agent will choose several manufacturers before finalizing one. The majority of times the Chinese supplier is not proficient in English, but the sourcing agent will act as a translator. The agent has gained awareness about your project needs and can share the information and proposals with the manufacturer. This helps to avoid any misunderstanding between you and the manufacturer right from the start.
4. Verifies manufacturer’s credentials
Before signing a contract or negotiating ask for the manufacturer’s credentials. Remember, all their licenses and credentials will be in Mandarin. You will need to verify their authenticity because there are chances that you will be handed fake documents. Translators are expensive, but as the sourcing agent is on your side, they are aware of the original certificates and requirements that the manufacturer has to legally fulfill. Thus, the chance of getting scammed is drastically reduced.
5. Smart negotiations
Negotiations are crucial and the sourcing agent knows how to tap a great deal without compromising on quality. Several feel that bargaining with the manufacturer for lower prices can dent the product quality. It is possible because cost cuts are balanced out with low-quality production. Sourcing agent handles negotiation with China suppliers properly because they know the language and local laws. They know how to get involved parties to stay on the same page for signing the contract.
6. Smooth customs & shipping process
The agent ensures that the order is conducted and completed in full agreement, has all the necessary taxes & tariffs paid then shipped to the specified destination. There is a reduced risk of confiscation at the customs.
Why In-Process Quality Checks Are Crucial?
In the manufacturing sector quality control process ensures that the product is designed to prescribed specifications. Therefore, Western companies that import goods from China evaluate the Chinese manufacturer’s ability to create goods that fulfill their quality expectations.
Internal product inspection China at the manufacturing level is conducted by the Chinese manufacturer. However, it is recommended that customers conduct their personal investigation from 3rd party. Sourcing agent in China specializes in quality inspection because the items need to be compliant with the safety standards underlined by the government.
During these reviews, the products are tested or examined for variations, which can be resolved. Thus the products are free from issues. The aim for 3rd party quality control reviews allows finding the defects at an early stage before it is late or problems get established. Catching issues in the manufacturing process mean making fixes at low costs. Rather than identifying this when the production is complete.
An ideal situation is not to encounter issues at all. You need to pick a reliable supplier and submit detailed and clear specifications. Discuss what deviation is acceptable and what is not. Mention this in the contract.
Problems are inevitable and can pop up anytime. The in-process quality inspection is performed during the two stages.
During production or the in-process checks, the inspection is performed to detect any deviation from the product specifications to ensure all parts are consistent. It is performed after 20% of production. An issue getting caught in the start and early fixes help to lessen the waste and avert expensive delivery delays.
The checks are not done in too early stages because the first few pieces are not generally perfect specimens. Usually, the processes are tweaked after checking these pieces.
Quality inspectors choose a piece randomly and check if the suggested improvement after the quality check is adhered to. The packaging and labeling quality also undergoes strict inspection to see if the customer’s specifications are appropriately printed.
What does the Quality Control Inspector look for?
The QC inspector makes sure that the items match the customer’s requirements. Is the color similar to the sample? Is the dimension accurate as per the drawing? If they aren’t then are they within acceptable deviations?
If 100 pieces within a batch show a similar quality range even if 12% is wrong then it is assumed that a similar amount is wrong in the entire batch. It means there is some glitch in the system that needs to be found and fixed.
If the deviation in some is accurate and a few wrong it means something bigger is going on. It reflects the inability of the factory to implement a well-defined production control.
What occurs when issues are detected during quality inspections?
Problems detected during product inspection China means rework on the already manufactured products. In addition, ensure the issue does not arise again. Reworking on faulty batch is time-consuming and expensive at times. This can cause shipping and delivery delays.
If the QC inspector found that the deviation will not hinder the application then they possibly allow the batch to go but fix the issue for the remaining batches.
For example, during water tap inspection. One side of the tap is visible and the other is inserted inside the wall. In case blemishes are found on the side that is inserted in the wall then the QC inspector will allow the batch to go but will inform the client and the manufacturer. However, it is an issue that will be fixed in the subsequent batch. The decisions can depend on the situation and use.
When to hire a sourcing agent in China?
If you encounter the following situations then you will consider hiring a sourcing agent.
1. You are inexperienced in the import business
Importing products and goods from a foreign destination like China is complicated. It is overwhelming to embark on strange territory. For business successes, you need to find the right manufacturer, control product quality, test and handle shipping problems.
No or insufficient experience in a single one of these factors can increase the challenges and risks. To ease the burden and achieve these requirements hire a Chinese sourcing agent. He will handle the processes, so you can continue handling your side of the business.
2. Handling several product categories
If you have several product categories to manufacture then finding and handling multiple suppliers can be a task. It is true especially when you are unaware of the sourcing market in China. You will need to have contacts with multiple manufacturers to fulfilling your needs, which can be too tedious for a new venture owner.
A sourcing agent enables to bypass the stress of finding and vetting several manufacturers. They consolidate your needs by connecting with accurate manufacturers capable to deliver high quality at great prices.
3. If the product type is specialized
Some materials and products are difficult to acquire. It can be proprietary building material or innovative customer products or restrictive drugs. Some special manufacturers cater to these specialized product categories because the needed raw materials or ingredients are available to a few selected factories.
The sourcing agent is familiar with where to find the ingredients and raw materials for your project. They capably connect you directly to the source. Share your special product specifications in detail with the manufacturer and strike a deal.
Tips to choose an ideal Chinese sourcing agent
You are well aware of why and when to choose a sourcing agent. So, now is the time to understand how to select an ideal sourcing agent. Unfortunately, manufacturing scams and fraud sourcing agents have made it to the news, so it becomes essential to perform due diligence before hiring one. For a business to succeed, carefully screen potential sourcing agents in China.
1. Look for experience
An experienced and credible sourcing agent in China will be capable to handle the entire sourcing process from start to finish. From getting quotes to the final shipment, the sourcing agent knows every step. Go for an agent that has an office in the state and even a central city. It helps to avert the linguistic and cultural barriers needed to understand the manufacturer market better.
Years of experience prove the individual's success. Remember unethical business practices never survive long. The experienced sourcing agent will be familiar with every other element including quality control, auditing, and logistics.
2. Verify credentials
All the sourcing agents don’t have the knowledge and experience of the entire process. Therefore take some time to perform background research as well as verify the potential sourcing agent’s credentials. Check the following location, duration, references, and even gauge the agent’s linguistic skills.
Ask for relevant documentation and you can get an idea of how knowledgeable they are about the entire process. Documents, which sourcing agents generally offer are Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, detailed packaging list, and Fumigation Certificate.
3. Check how they handle quality problems
The job of the sourcing agent is to monitor the manufactured product’s quality. Therefore the potential agent must know about the importance and working of quality control. Find out how many visits they make to the factory during the production process. Do they verify quality certificates the manufacturer’s issues?
A reliable sourcing agent will offer an authorization certificate that confirms their capabilities to export products.
4. Expertise in specific product
Different sourcing agents specialize in diverse products. Therefore check if the potential sourcing agent is experienced in sourcing products you are planning to outsource. Ask for previous order records or ask for relevant buyer’s reference. A good sourcing agent has lots of satisfied clients and will keenly share their information. You can contact the referrals to get an idea of their experience in working with the potential sourcing agent.
Reputable sourcing agents never demand rebates and refunds on products because it damages their reputations. Building credibility takes time, so use rational judgment to hire a sourcing agent. If your gut feeling strongly appraises the sourcing agent’s credibility, hire him!