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How to Find Best China Sourcing Agent?

How to Find Best China Sourcing Agent?

A sourcing agent can function as an extension of your eCommerce operation in China. You will be dealing with a real person, who has eyes and ears on your business in China.

But just like every other service, it’s important to know how to distinguish a mediocre professional from a skilled and experienced one. That’s exactly what I am going to show you in this article.

What is a Sourcing Agent?

In the simplest of terms, a sourcing agent means a person or a company that works on your behalf in China.
Think of an agent, as your sole point of contact in China, who will handle the end of your operations, allowing you to focus on the more important part of the business, getting more sales.

The Advantages of Working with a Sourcing Agent
A sourcing agent offers businesses five key advantages.

1. They can help you source better products

How do you research products? If I am not mistaken, most businesses try to find products to sell on Alibaba or Aliexpress or one of the other commonly available trade directories on the internet. But the marketplace is ginormous. Alibaba and Aliexpress are just one part of it. An experienced sourcing agent will have a much larger database of sellers to choose from and can help you find the right supplier. For example, we have visited more than 1000 factories throughout China, have huge factories resources and logistic networks. Many small factories have no shop on Alibaba even no webpage, but their workers are very skilled because the worker is the owner.

2. Preferential pricing

A good agent will negotiate with the suppliers to secure better pricing for you. Even a difference of 5-10% in the price can result in a profit of up to thousands of dollars a month, depending on the kind of sales you are generating.

3. Branding

Need a different packing material or custom logo? An agent has you covered. It’s never been easier to build your brand image without spending tens of thousands of dollars.

4. Faster deliveries

Shipping is hands down, the backbone of a successful dropshipping business. If you can offer prompt deliveries at more or less the same cost, you have a clear advantage over your competition, which may be relying on slower, unreliable shipping providers. A good sourcing agent will have a list of the best shipping companies for you, that offers the fastest deliveries to the destination country.

5. Quality control

The biggest problem with the international trade model was that there was a lot of guesswork involved. Be it due to communication problems (sellers not being able to communicate effectively in English), there was an overreliance on the seller and supplier being trustworthy. A good sourcing agent takes the guesswork out of it. Every step of the business is carefully monitored. You know for sure, that the product is quality inspected, repackaged, and shipped according to your requirements.

How to Find a Sourcing Agent?

By now, you’d know the edge that a sourcing agent can give to your eCommerce business.
The question is, how do you find a reliable sourcing agent with the necessary experience and the right skill sets?

Here are some of the other methods that you can use.

Please remember that each method has its own share of advantages and disadvantages, which I have also mentioned along with it.

1. Google

Google search is the best way to find a China sourcing agent. Just search for a China sourcing agent, or the best China sourcing agent, etc. You will get hundreds of thousands of results for each one of these terms. Make a list that includes 5-10 agents and start interviewing each one to find a person that you can work with.
Advantages of using Google search: It’s convenient. You can do it anytime and anywhere. If a sourcing agent has a good quality website with high-quality content (very important because communication skills are as important as the other skills), chances are high that they have the experience and the skillset that you are looking for.
Disadvantages of using Google: It’s a lot of work. It’s not like every person that you find will be a good fit for your business. You will have to screen, verify the information, and speak to each person to know about their experience and their way of working.


how to find best china sourcing agent
How to Find Best China Sourcing Agent


2. Facebook Groups

Facebook can be a treasure trove of information and leads if you are able to navigate through tons of spam that is. Groups, in particular, can be teeming with fellow sourcing agents who can provide references, as well as experienced sourcing agents, who are looking to partner with stable businesses.

Advantages of using Facebook groups: You might find more leads on Facebook groups than you can on Google. That’s because not every agent might have an independent website (the best ones usually do). But almost everybody will definitely have a social media profile. Also, there’s no dearth of dropshipping-related groups on Facebook. Right from small groups with a few thousand members to massive groups with hundreds of thousands of members, you can post your requirement on as many as you want.
Disadvantages of using Facebook: You are likely to be inundated with messaging requests after you post on Facebook groups. But a lot of them will be spammers looking to fob you off. References can be fake or compensated as well. So you have got to be extremely careful about who you interact with on social media. Also, a lot of these Facebook groups can inflate their member counts with bots, and ask you for some sort of membership fee to post on them. Do not fall for it. There’s enough quality, free groups on Facebook where you can post your requests.

how to find best china sourcing agent
How to Find Best China Sourcing Agent

3. Upwork

Upwork is one of the best places to look for a private sourcing agent from China. You can narrow down on a sourcing agent based on their location, their cost, and their average pricing. But, the stand-out feature for me is the parameter called ‘Job Success Rate’ and ‘Total Income earned’. These two are the best ways to filter results. If a sourcing agent has earned $100k for example but has a poor job success rate, then you are better off looking for someone else who might have a better job success rate.

Advantages of Upwork: A lot of verified agents from China to choose from. Because it’s a very competitive business market, you are likely to get better pricing on Upwork. Also, it’s an escrow supported service with a great customer support team. If things go south, there’s always help at hand. You can also choose from sellers who charge an hourly rate or who charge upfront, depending on the scale of the task.
The disadvantage of Upwork: Communications are usually limited by Upwork to their platform only. If you were to find an agent that you want to work permanently with, you might have to figure out a way to communicate with them outside of Upwork.

how to find best china sourcing agent
How to Find Best China Sourcing Agent

4. Alibaba Supplier

Last but not the least, you have the option to look for sourcing agents on Alibaba, the old-fashioned way. If you already have done product research, look for sellers who offer your product, and then analyze the seller rating based on their feedback, average response time, pricing, and shipping methods that they offer.

how to find best china sourcing agent
How to Find Best China Sourcing Agent

How to Select a Sourcing Agent

So, you have done the hard work and spent days narrowing down on sourcing agents on Google or Facebook or Upwork.

Good job! That’s half the battle won already.

Finally, you have a list of, say, five agents who you feel, are a good fit for your business.

What now? How do you decide which agent for sourcing from China?

Well, here’s a brief guide on the basic criteria to consider before you select a sourcing agent from China.

Where is the Agent located?

Sourcing agents can be located all over China. It’s a huge country.

But what you have got to look for, is anything that gives you an advantage in the business, correct?

So, look for agents who are located in one of these two provinces, because they provide some distinct advantages that you do not get with agents located in other parts of the country.

1. Zhejiang province

The Zhejiang province is home to most of the factories that manufacture hot selling dropshipping items. Apart from a few high-end electronic products, you are likely to find just about anything you need in Zhejiang. So hiring an agent located here makes stocking a cakewalk. Most dropshipping agents will be located at an hour’s drive at best from the factory, and wouldn’t mind driving down themselves to source and stock your product at their warehouses. The caveat is that most of the express shipping services are based out of Hongkong. So, you get better stocking in Zhejiang but are limited by shipping options.

2. Guangdong province/Shenzhen city

The Guangdong province has thousands of factories manufacturing some of the big-ticket products. Unlike Zhejiang, there are ample express shipping providers in Guangdong. Since most agents prefer to use Special Line for quicker deliveries these days, there are advantages that are distinct to Guangdong.

If the product has a battery, then it can only be shipped out of Hong Kong. So, let’s say you have selected a product with a battery that is stocked in Zhejiang. It will first be delivered to Guangdong, after which the shipping company will process it and send it to Hong Kong. If your agent is based in Shenzhen city already, this will save you two or three days in the shipping process. If the product does not have a battery, it can be shipped from anywhere in mainland China though. That’s an advantage that you get with sourcing agents based in Guangdong.

The Basic Parameters to Base Your Selection on

Whenever you are looking to hire a sourcing agent from China, you need to realize that you are looking to hire a business partner, as opposed to someone who can get you better pricing.

The price is a very important aspect of the business; I don’t deny it.

But it’s not the be-all, end-all.

Do not base your decision solely on the basis of a better-priced quote, else you’ll end up crossing over dollars to pick up dimes.

Instead, here are a few basic parameters to base your selection on.

1. They should have direct relationships with factories.

The very fact that you are reaching out to a sourcing agent means that your business has now progressed to a level where Aliexpress suppliers may not be able to handle the volume. You need agents who have direct contacts with factories, as opposed to agents who source products from Aliexpress themselves. Oh yes, there are many who do that. So ask about their connections.

2. Good communication skills.

Look for agents who can converse fluently in English. What’s more important is that the agent should have a good set of ears. They should be great listeners who can understand what your current requirements are, and then propose ways to improve that situation. Transparency, an understanding of the current logistics situations, an understanding of production, are key skills to watch out for.

3. After sales support

Customers today demand quality after-sales support. No amount of savings in cost can make up for a lack of support. So it’s critical that the sourcing agent that you work with has a blueprint in place for dealing with the common issues that arise after-sales. The product gets lost in transit, or there are unforeseen shipping delays, or the wrong product was shipped. These issues are a part of the business and partly, unavoidable. What’s more important is that the agent should be equipped to handle it and resolve any queries promptly.

4. Shipping options

Sourcing agents should have a clear understanding of the advantages and the limitations of using a certain shipping provider. For example, when to use a shipping provider that bills by dimensional weight, as opposed to another one that bills by volume weight. What shipping providers offer the fastest shipping to specific countries, like the U.S. or U.K., for example. When to use an epacket and when to use Special Line and so on.

Important Questions to Ask a Potential Sourcing Agent

Each business will have a set of unique requirements from a sourcing agent. That’s what makes it so important to find an agent who’s the exact match for your business.

There is no one size fits all.

That said, there are a few important questions that I feel should be asked to every potential sourcing agent that a business reaches out to.

Not all of these questions might be relevant to your scenario. But it’s a great list to jot down to reach out to agents.

1. If the agent has the experience to source the products for your business? Mostly agent has the expertise for only one or several categories of products.

2. If the agent can provide QC service, what QC service do you prefer? Visit the factory and do QC at site or pre-inspection when the cargo arrives in the agent warehouse?

3. If your agent can provide free warehouse service? Maybe you have several suppliers, if shipping parcel by parcel, should be a waste of shipping costs.

4. If your agent can provide consolidating parcel service by combining all parcels into one delivery.

5. If your agent has multiple ways of shipping in accord with your shipping lead time requirements. by sea, by air, by express courier, by cheap special airline channel…..which can save much more shipping costs for your business because if you order small quantities, the shipping costs may be high than the cargo value.

6. One-stop service is the best, including sourcing, QC, shipping, even after-sales service, it is better to find one that can cover all aspects, save your time.

7. If your supplier can share all buying links to you to avoid hidden commission from suppliers, all processing should be totally transparent, and you can check all records.

8. If your agent has a one-to-one communication service, you just need to talk with one person who can solve all of your questions, to save time and the costs of communications.

Sourcing Product Easy company established in 2008, based in Shenzhen city. As a professional China sourcing agent, we buy good products for customers. Over the past 10 years, we have visited more than 1000 factories throughout China. We have huge factories resources and logistic networks. We are good at consumer electronics, shapewear, hardware, etc. . We can provide customized products or print on demand also. We own a fulfillment center in China, provide a one-stop Shopify dropshipping solution.

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