What Kind of China Sourcing Agent is Good for You?
The first issue you want to look at is the China sourcing agent’s location.
The closer the people who manage your project to you, the easier the communication will be. When both of you work in the same time zone it is easier to find a time during the day to speak and a face to face meetings are easier to arrange.
On the other hand, an agent that is close to you is far from the factories, and all the advantages I just spoke about become the disadvantages of the communication between the agent and the Chinese suppliers.
In addition, if the people that run the sourcing agency are close to you, but in terms of experience and culture background are far from the Chinese suppliers, then that together with the physical distance will create a communication barrier.
Some of the important advantages of a China-based agency management is that they have the ability to arrive at the location where your project is being processed fairly quickly and to communicate effectively with your Chinese suppliers in their own language and throughout their entire business day.
This means a lot for two reasons:
Can your agent communicate with your supplier?
Effective communication with your agent doesn’t mean much if you cannot take the results of that communication and put them into action.
Sometimes, executing decisions is a much more complicated task than making the decisions themselves.
That’s because you may need to communicate it to multiple people in the vendor’s organization, realign the supply chain, discuss with different departments how they are going to coordinate their actions so that the decision will be executed in the best way, and all these require a very high level of communication efficiency, and … time.
So, when the agent’s management has more time during the business day to talk to multiple people in your vendor’s organization and when they are able to arrive in the office of the vendor to have meetings with all the departments involved, that alone can save weeks in project processing time.
Can your agent execute your decisions?
Many times, the implementation of a decision depends a lot on the constraints and situation in the site.
And I don’t mean only the physical constraints. I am also talking about the people who work for your vendor and are processing your project. Understanding their personalities, their relationships and the inner politics inside the vendor’s organization can make a huge difference.
You cannot learn these by visiting your vendor 2 or 3 times a year for task focused meetings. These are things you learn only after you earned people’s trust.
An agent’s management that has the ability to learn these things can bring enormous value to its customers, because if you understand who are the “doers” and who really has the power to move things within your vendor’s organization, you will certainly do things differently and you will certainly get much better results.
So, if your project is such that your vendor’s involvement in processing your project is high, and most of the details of the project have been communicated to your agent already, then you are probably better off with a China-based agent.