Important questions to ask a prospective sourcing agent in China.
Are you looking for a professional China sourcing agent that can not only make your life easier but maybe even help take your business to the next level? And…at a lower price?
Sounds too good to be true, but this is exactly what you should be shooting for.
The goal is to find a sourcing agent that has connections with manufacturers who have experience with products similar to yours, and the ability to follow through with the entire production cycle all the way to delivery.
If you can get one China sourcing agent to mange the whole process, it will save you a lot of time and money.
The Problem With Outsourcing Overseas
Sourcing products from overseas has the potential to be a total nightmare if you try to do it yourself. Trying to make things happen in a country where you don’t know how things work and who to talk to can be frustrating, challenging, and downright confusing.
This is especially true if you don’t speak the language and you don’t want to spend a lot of time flying back and forth to make sure everything is going the way you want.
Of course, you could appoint someone to live in the country as a manager, but how much help would they really be if they don’t know the language, customs or have the connections to make things happen ‘when’ they go wrong.
Hiring A Local Sourcing Agent Located In China Is The Solution
So you decide to look for a sourcing agent who can work with the factory on your behalf throughout the entire production and delivery process.
The only problem is you have no clue how to figure out exactly what level of service you will get from the people you are talking to.
Arcadia sourcing has been in the sourcing agent business for over 30 years. We know how the sourcing agent business works and what kinds of services you can expect from the various types of companies.
Following are some questions that will help you find the right China sourcing agent.
10 Must-Ask Questions To Ask A Sourcing Agent Before You Hire Them.
Are you willing to share the factory’s address and can I visit it?
This question is crucial because if the sourcing agent says no to this request, you have no control over how the factory handles your goods, especially once they leave the factory.
On top of that, you have no chance of creating a relationship with the factory. This leaves you completely at the mercy of the sourcing agent, who at this stage you don’t know is any good or not.
Are you a sourcing agency with a team, or a one-person service?
There’s nothing wrong with individual sourcing agents per se, however it’s good to know ahead of time what you’re getting into. This is because one sourcing agent can more easily disappear without notice than a sourcing agency or company.
You wouldn’t want to be left high and dry in the middle of an exporting project, so it’s good to ask this question early on.
The third question is: How long have you been a sourcing agent or agency?
This is a good question to ask so that you know how resourceful and dependable the agent is.
If they’ve been established in the market for a long time, say over a decade, they would have built more contacts and rapport with factories all over China from a plethora of industries.
This ultimately gives you a better chance of having your product made as per your product specification, and for the right price.
This is especially true when they are working with a factory where they have already built incredible rapport with the management.
It is easier to pull some strings when necessary if you have a good rapport. For example - production time (especially when Chinese New Year is approaching and it’s difficult to get an order in), or to further negotiate with the factory after your first order, and so on.
The fourth question is: What do you specialize in?
Knowing which industry, commodity, or product a sourcing agent specializes in is critical in getting the absolute best product made for you.
A sourcing agent focusing on tech products will have different benefits to one who specializes in plastic toys, as the inspection processes are different. So it’s good to know what their speciality is.
Can you give me a customer reference so I can check your background?
Asking this question will help you more easily evaluate whether or not this sourcing agent is a reliable one.
You’ll quickly know whether or not a sourcing agent is good simply by the amount of positive referrals they have.
You’ll also find out what this sourcing agent is best at: inspecting the product, getting a good price, being a great communicator, or all of the above.
This ultimately gives you a well-rounded idea of what to expect when working with this sourcing agent.
If everything the sourcing agent has answered so far works for you, the sixth question to ask is: What is your process when qualifying a factory?
This question helps you understand how reliable the sourcing agent is. It is important to know if a factory delivers products on time and are made to standard.
Good sourcing agents carry out factory audits and inspections before, during, and after a product is made.
They need to be on top of everything throughout the production process, relaying all relevant information back to you so you know exactly what is going on with your product.
Do you carry out quality control inspections, or do you hire a third party?
Sometimes a sourcing agent just does the sourcing, and then you are left to find a third party to carry out inspections at the factory.
This is time-consuming, more costly, and can lead to miscommunication between parties. So it’s good for you to know straight away exactly what the sourcing agent will do for you.
How do you charge for your services?
It’s good to know ahead of time how a sourcing agent charges their fees/
Is it a one-time pre-set fee? Or, is it based on a percentage depending on your order value? There’s no perfect answer here, as it’s a matter of preference. But it is always good to know how payment will be made right from the start.
Do you take any referral fees or discounts from the factory?
This is one of the most important questions to ask and tough for the sourcing agent to answer, but it definitely should be asked.
The reason this question needs to be asked is that a good sourcing agent doesn’t accept any factory’s kickbacks or discounts while charging you the commission.
Being realistic, you might not get an honest reply, but it helps to show the sourcing agent you know about what sometimes goes on, which might keep them on their toes.
Can you please explain exactly what I can expect from you?
Essentially, this helps you know what scope of work you can expect from the sourcing agent.
It’s good to know if they only do the sourcing, or if they also do the factory or product inspection shipping and consolidation.
Having a very detailed description of what to expect from the sourcing agent early on will help save you time, money, and confusion down the line.
You don’t want to wind up being asked to pay an inspection fee once the product is done – it would be a very unwelcome surprise.
As you can see, these are very practical questions to ask a sourcing agent based on the day-to-day activities of a sourcing agent in China.
Give us a call to see if we might be able to help you manufacture your product in China: 1-888-659-1018
Arcadia Sourcing is a full-service China sourcing company. We provide all the services you need to successfully produce your product in China. If we can’t help you ourselves, we will be happy to refer you to another company that has experience with your product line, so feel free to give us a call and ask questions.