Importers who do not have the expertise, manpower or the time to procure and manage supplies from China will often turn to the services of a China . However, it is not that easy to find a sourcing agent you can trust, and trust is very important in this kind of requirement. You need someone who is trustworthy and not someone who works for hidden commissions. Below are some do’s and don’ts to help you in evaluating sourcing agents in China:
Do clarify the sourcing agent’s tasks and responsibilities. This is very important when using third-party service providers. Do you want them to handle everything from procurement to quality control? Or do you only require them to perform tasks that you cannot handle? You have to be clear with their responsibilities so you will know who should be accountable in case of problems.
Don’t forget to consider the sourcing agent’s geographical presence. If the products you want to purchase are from Shenzhen, then looking for a sourcing agent or company at Shenzhen would make a lot of sense than using an agent from the opposite end. The China sourcing agent will be working closely with suppliers. Thus, you need him or her to be near the location of your suppliers.
Do be realistic with your expectations. Remember that you are working with people and not robots. Even the best sourcing agents have their flaws. They cannot guarantee you low prices, and on-time shipments all the time. Thus, you have to know what is most important for you so you know in which areas you cannot compromise. Ideally, you want someone who is competent and reliable. However, it is better to work with someone with average skills but is hardworking and reliable than someone who is smart but untrustworthy.
Don’t micromanage the production yourself. You asked for the help of a sourcing agent, so let him/her do the job you paid him to do. You want to work closely with the agent, but you can do so without interfering with his work. You want to have control over your business processes, so you show the supplier who is the boss. As a result, the suppliers won’t listen to your sourcing agents anymore and you won’t be able to maximize the benefits of using their services. This doesn’t mean you have to rely completely on a third party sourcing service either. If they go out of business, you will want to be able to continue doing business with your good suppliers.