When selecting a sourcing agent in China, there are a few things that you need to bear in mind to make the right choice.
Location of the sourcing agent
When you go through the Google list of sourcing agents in China, look for the location of the sourcing agent. Are they Chinese, or are they a foreign company with an office in China? Doing business with a foreign company is much easier than a native Chinese one. China has strict internet policies that can make checking the credentials of your Chinese sourcing agent difficult.
When you choose a foreign sourcing agent, ensure that they have a well-staffed office in China. Be sure to check out how long the office has been operational in China. Choose a sourcing agent that has a proven track record.
Experience of the sourcing agent
There is a huge difference in the way Chinese businesses and businesses in the west operate. The differences can be largely attributed to the differences in culture, customs, and mindset. It is wise to choose a sourcing agent that has several years of experience in China. A sourcing agent that has extensive experience of working in China will have a large network of reliable contacts vital to your business.
Check for references
Select a sourcing agent that can give you authentic references from other businesses. Make sure you take the time to talk to these references and also check their websites. Find out how long they have been working with the sourcing agent and the quality they provide. Ask them if they would recommend the sourcing agent.
Get the required documentation
Your sourcing agent should be able to provide you with relevant documentation for your sourcing and shipping process. The language on the documents will give you a fair idea of how well-versed the agent is with the entire process. The documents that sourcing agents typically provide are Certificate of Origin, Bill of Lading, Fumigation Certificate, and a detailed packing list.
Check how they deal with quality issues
When sourcing products from a foreign country, the quality of the products is of utmost importance. Check with the sourcing agent what measures they have in place to deal with quality issues. Make it clear from the very beginning that you will not accept products of sub-standard quality.
Have the necessary license
All businesses in China need to have a license to trade. Chinese law is very strict, and you can only conduct a particular type of business on a specific license. Before you start working with the sourcing agent, don’t forget to check their license.
Check the language proficiency
An ideal sourcing agent should be proficient in both English and Mandarin. Make sure that your primary point of contact has both good written and spoken English abilities. It is preferable if the staff in the Chinese office are also proficient in English, as you may need to speak to them directly at times.
Expertise on the product that you want to buy
Different sourcing agents have different areas of expertise. You must check if your sourcing agent has prior experience in sourcing products that you are interested in. You may ask your agent for records of previous orders, or you may ask for buyer references. You may not find a sourcing agent that deals with only one type of product. Hence, ask for buyer references in the same industry as yours.
Choose a sourcing agent with good ethics
We have heard of several sourcing agents who take kickbacks from suppliers. Such agents may help you find a supplier quicker, but the quality of the products may be doubtful. Make sure you only say yes to a supplier that meets your quality and certification norms.
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