Organizations around the world choose to work with a sourcing agent for numerous reasons. Teaming up with a sourcing agent provides advantages such as a reliable network of manufacturers, assistance with coordinating purchase and shipping, technical assistance, and more. In Asia, sourcing agents are available in countries like China where they coordinate with manufacturers to ship supplies to the rest of the world.
So how do you choose the right agent? In this article, we will explore what a sourcing agent does, why getting an agent is useful for you, and what aspects to look into.
What is a sourcing agent?
Sourcing agents are overseas, third party organizations that find manufacturers for you in their country. Not only are these agents experienced with commercial knowledge, they will also function as liaisons between you and suppliers for the duration of your business transaction.
If you are importing products from Asia, you will need an Asia sourcing agent. Being fluent with the local language allows the agent to communicate with the supplier clearly on your behalf. Locating a good supplier is vital for every business, and a sourcing agent can assist with finding the right one for you.
Tasks performed by a sourcing agent
An Asia sourcing agent assists with all functions involved within the supply chain. While importing products from a different country, it can be challenging to negotiate a fair price. A local sourcing agent can help by communicating with your overseas supplier and bargaining a price that is reasonable.
A sourcing agent can also arrange payment for your supplier. For instance, if you are interacting with a supplier in Asia, you may find that some of them may not accept payment in Euros or US dollars. The ability to pay the agent in your currency, and have them transfer it to your supplier in the local currency can be a great benefit.
Locating the right supplier from abroad can be challenging as you do not get access to a comprehensive list of manufacturers. A sourcing agent can find the right supplier who is both reliable and capable of providing the required products. A sourcing agent can assist with product sourcing by researching options at affordable prices. You need to provide them with a list of requirements and technical information, so they can pinpoint the right product for you.
Ensuring that you are getting the best value for your money can be difficult especially if you are working with an overseas supplier. Sourcing agents are local and can inspect the quality of your products. They will also arrange transportation for your materials via air or sea route based on your budget and the size of products being shipped.
Why an Asia sourcing agent can be useful
Sourcing agents are beneficial if you want to import high-quality products from another country. Some businesses have their own sourcing agents to manage the process of shipping and procuring products. An trustworthy agent can help you navigate the process of contracting with a supplier within Asia.
A variety of entities use sourcing agents. Individuals or families who want to start a business by importing products from an Asian country work with a sourcing agent to eliminate the hassle of acquiring an import license . Small business owners do the same to avoid potential risks from working with an overseas manufacturer whom they have not met in person.
Buyers having experience with shipping products from abroad might be working with trading companies. Working with a sourcing agent instead can help reduce the overall cost and still includes the agent’s fee. Even large organizations including supermarket chains and clothing stores work with sourcing agencies based in China. Coordinating with a sourcing agent helps to lower risks associated with the customer’s supply chain and improve delivery times.
Organizations that sell different types of products usually have their products made at multiple industrial clusters. Such organizations work with sourcing agents to coordinate order placement and shipment. In cases where organizations engage in such transactions, it can be problematic if all manufactured goods are shipped in a single container. Customs declarations and overtime charges for ships are some common issues. To avoid these from happening, sourcing agents inspect the quality of goods being shipped and organize shipment on behalf of the client.
What to look for
When it comes to finding the right agent, there are several factors that must be taken into consideration. In this section, we shall explore some key qualities an Asia sourcing agent should have.
Experience with exporting products to your country
When you are researching a sourcing agent from Asia, see whether they have experience working with clients from your country. Experience indicates that the agent is familiar with customs and product regulations prevalent in that region. You can browse their certificates of origin to know whether they have exported products to your country.
Location of company
Knowing the location of your Asia sourcing agent helps to know what product they specialize in. This is because Asia is home to many industrial clusters which focus on manufacturing a specific type of product. Products that are made in industrial clusters are usually more affordable, of high-quality, and found in a variety of styles. Finding the sourcing agent’s location then helps you to understand what product you are getting.
Product sourcing history
Knowing the types of products your sourcing agent has exported in the past can be useful as well. To know whether an agent has experience within a particular industry, search their website for blogs about shipping a specific product or photos from on-site inspections. Such details are good indicators that a sourcing agent has knowledge of a particular industry.
Reference from customers
Another way to learn about your Asia sourcing agent is to learn about them from their clients. Ask the agent for a reference from a customer who is preferably not selling the same product in the same location as you. Hearing from customers instead of the agent themselves provides an objective point-of-view about the agent’s reputation.
Supply chain and transparency
To help you ascertain that a sourcing agent is not a trading company, there are some things you need to consider. Being the purchaser, you should get access to the contact information of the supplier from the sourcing agent. Also, you should be able to visit the factory prior to placing a purchase order. You should also have access to a list of all costs incurred in the supply chain.
Focus on quality
You need to find a sourcing agent that focuses on delivering quality results. The sourcing agent should do in-depth research on the right supplier for your business. They should identify alternate choices of manufacturers for you. Information that can be analyzed about a supplier includes the establishment year, business type, production capacity, technical standards, and more.
Once the supplier has been chosen, the agent should visit the factory and inspect the product. They should report back with details including warehouse, quality control, assembly lines, etc. and will keep you updated about anything that might influence your decision to engage in business with the supplier. Having a sourcing agent that provides high quality services can make business more efficient.
Accountability refers to the responsibility that your agent must be willing to take on the entire import process. In addition to finding the right supplier, your sourcing agent should follow up with the supplier in case there are any issues while the goods are in transit. They should provide technical support or process item exchanges or refunds according to the agreement between you and the supplier. Having a sourcing agent that facilitates timely communication between both parties strengthens the business partnership between both.
Another thing that you should look for is your sourcing agent’s domain name. If you are searching for your sourcing agent on the internet, you can use a website to search information about the holders of the domain name. This reveals the registration date of the domain name of the website belonging to the sourcing agent.
Knowing the domain name can be useful in determining the authenticity of an Asia sourcing agent. If your agent claims to have many years of experience, you can check their domain name history to understand whether it is true.
Honest and trustworthy
An ideal sourcing agent is someone who is trustworthy. Since the role of a sourcing agent involves multiple levels of coordination, it is essential for you to be able to rely on them. Untrustworthy sourcing agents could be deceiving by asking your supplier for a commission while offering you a low cost for your sourcing services. An honest supplier, however, is transparent in their workings and makes sure that you have access to authentic information about the supplier.
An honest sourcing agent is not motivated solely by financial gains. They have a customer-first approach and deliver professional and quality services to clients. If you are not sure whether you should trust a sourcing agent you have found, check their customer testimonials and explore their website for information about experiences in sourcing products for clients.
A sourcing agent works as an intermediary between the buyer and the manufacturer to ensure smooth coordination of product purchase internationally. They help to navigate issues that a buyer may not be familiar with including the local language, price negotiation, customs regulations, and so forth. Prior to choosing a sourcing agent, there are several factors that organizations should explore such as customer feedback, location, products, transparency in supply chain, high quality, domain name, and trustworthiness. By evaluating such factors, it becomes easier to choose the right sourcing agent for your business.
Sourcing Allies is a team of expert China sourcing agents that has helped western customers manufacture and source products from low-cost regions since 2006.
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