Principally, a sourcing agency or company searches for reliable suppliers and partners, delivering products tailored to the needs of the buyer. These can be high-quality luxurious goods or products with a focus on low price, where the quality must be reliable but not necessarily fulfill the highest standards.
Agents in China can have a variety of tasks, from bringing foreign buyers in contact with Chinese suppliers to actually purchasing the products on behalf of a buyer (company). Other services often include price negotiation, quality control, factory audits, compliance with international regulations, logistics, and any other tasks as required by the buyer.
Who Needs a China Sourcing Agent?
It is relatively easy for international companies to go to Alibaba or AliExpress and order bulk products online. The websites are in English, the suppliers are verified/audited, and often speak good enough English to negotiate product details, terms, and conditions. Even popular Chinese platforms like 1688 are easy to understand and use with a translation extension. So, why should you work with a sourcing partner?
Sourcing agents or companies are experts in the Chinese sourcing process, and typically have a large network of trustworthy and reliable suppliers. This comes in particularly handy if you want to manufacture your own product, modify an existing product with your branding details, or simply want to order standardized goods for wholesale, individual selling, or company use.
Besides, with their knowledge of the Chinese market, language, and culture, they can ease the communication, improve negotiations, build trust, and establish a long-term business relationship while getting your sourcing needs fulfilled.
In other words, you can save a lot of time and money, while connecting you quickly and efficiently with the best suppliers for your specific needs.
In particular, the following groups can benefit from working with sourcing companies in China:
Companies who are new to importing products from China
Businesses with a diverse product portfolio
Brands with niche products
Businesses in need of extra-large quantities
Let’s look at these groups in a bit more detail.
- Companies who are new to importing products from China
Especially if your business has no subsidiaries in the Middle Kingdom, searching for, auditing, and building a relationship, which is so important in China, is near impossible. Of course, you can conduct several business trips to be in the country – if the Covid and travel restrictions allow it, but that’s neither efficient nor effective.
Plus, if you don’t speak Mandarin it’s near impossible to find your way around the Chinese business landscape and research, understand, and conduct the often lengthy and complicated logistics processes around shipping and customs, as well as understanding, interpreting, and following the Chinese laws correctly.
This is typically the case for new Amazon Sellers and those who are generally new to the international trade business. Read up more on Amazon FBA here.
- Brands with a diverse product portfolio
If your company only offers one product in different colors or other variations, finding a high-quality supplier may not be as challenging.
But imagine, if you have a large range of product categories, what would you do? Would you try to find several different suppliers with expertise in that specific product category or would you try to source a supplier who can produce all your different products, possibly at a slightly lower quality?
Or would it maybe even be possible to find one supplier in China who can produce all these products reliably at the best quality? A China sourcing agent can answer this question for you and take this burden off your shoulders.
- Small Businesses with niche products
If your company is seeking to use or distribute niche products, for example, chemicals or medical supplies, it’s possible to source these products from China.
However, knowing the local legislation and import regulations is another story. Make your life easier and take advantage of the expertise of a specialized sourcing agency or company.
- Companies in need of extra-large quantities
Businesses like wholesale markets or large supermarkets may require especially large quantities of a certain product or various product ranges. Improve your supply chain and margins at the same time while satisfying your customers with high-quality products.
Typical Services of a Sourcing Agent
A Chinese sourcing agent or company connects international businesses with Chinese suppliers. Their main services include
1) Searching for and verifying product suppliers in China on behalf of international companies
2) Negotiating terms and conditions with these suppliers including contract preparation
3) Factory inspection, audits, and quality control
4) Overseeing the fulfillment of the agreement including the logistics process