Starting a business is a tedious process. For one, you’ll have to take care of necessary permits to make your business legal in your respective country. You also have to create a sound business plan to run your business and ensure it will create profit in the long-term. More importantly, you should have a reliable and trustworthy supplier you can get quality products to sell to your target customers.
For first-timers, the task of looking for a supplier is already daunting. For one, you should consider your budget and the number of products you need to order. With business transactions most likely done online, it can be hard to deal with someone without at least seeing your contact in person. Adding to that worry are horror stories where business owners get duped by scammers mostly online.
In such cases, hiring a sourcing agent to help you deal with your supplier can help a lot. For business owners of sourcing products from China, employing an agent can make transactions easier and with less hassle. Basically, reliable sourcing will make your job easier as far as dealing with Chinese suppliers is concerned. As for you, the business owner, you can focus on the overall operation of your business.
This article will discuss what sourcing agents do, how important they can be on your business, and finding a reliable one to help you run your business.
Why a sourcing agent is important
If you are planning to import items from China, you may have been advised to hire a sourcing agent to help you out. More often than not, you should heed such advice especially if you are a first-time importer. Here are some things you need to be familiar with about a sourcing agent’s tasks:
1. They do all the tasks related to the importation process.
In a nutshell, sourcing agents do the importation transactions with the supplier for you. They take the major responsibility of all the related legwork of product importation – from ordering up to the delivery. A reliable sourcing agent should also be knowledgeable with the importation process and prevent risks that can affect your operations.
2. They speak your suppliers’ language.
If you are importing from China, it is only logical to hire someone who can speak their language. This can help in better communication and prevent miscommunication that can ruin your business.
3. They represent your business.
Because sourcing agents will represent your business, it is important to hire someone reliable and trustworthy enough. A sourcing agent will also help you look for suppliers and conduct on-site factory visits when necessary.
4. They serve as quality control.
As mentioned, a reliable agent should know the roundabouts of the importation process. At the same time, the agent is also responsible for conducting product quality inspections before it lands to your doorstep for selling. Sourcing agents will ensure you only get the best products from the best suppliers in town.
If you are a first-time importer, you will definitely need help with experienced personnel, and a reliable sourcing agent will help you with such tasks. Unless you want to stress yourself from endlessly searching for a supplier while the business operation is left unattended, you should hire a sourcing agent instead.
Given the above responsibilities of a sourcing agent, you may already have an idea of how important they are in business. That said, hiring a sourcing agent for your importation needs is a good business investment. Trust us when we say sourcing agents can basically make your life easier.
Finding a reliable sourcing agent in China
Finding a reliable supplier is already hard work, but finding a reliable sourcing agent is just as challenging. A sourcing agent should be qualified enough to represent your business and able to communicate your requirements to the other party. He or she should also have years of experience in the sourcing industry to ensure smooth and hassle-free operations as much as possible.
In hiring a sourcing agent in China, you should consider the following:
1. Determine whether the agent is reliable and trustworthy.
Trust is a must especially in the world of business. Business owners would most likely prefer someone who is average but trustworthy than skilled yet unreliable. Having strong trust with people who work for you is crucial if you want to keep your business alive and kicking.
If there are online reviews that talk about this person’s work performance, take note of it. If you are interested in his or her service, you can test his or her capabilities through a series of test tasks.
From there, you can gauge how capable, reliable, and trustworthy he or she can be for your business. While trust is key, skills and knowledge on the field are just as important.
2. Have a contract.
Having a contract between the agent can help you save from future headaches. Let the sourcing agent sign a detailed contract regardless of your personal relationship with that person. Better yet, consult a lawyer to help you out with drafting the said contract.
3. Consider dealing with buying/sourcing offices rather than an individual agent.
For one, the former more likely covers various industries. On the other hand, an individual agent may only specialize in certain industries. Nonetheless, whichever you choose depends on your business requirement.
For example, if you need multiple sourcing projects that comprise of several industries, it is advisable to deal with buying offices instead. On the other hand, you can deal with an individual agent if you have a small business with minimum order requirements.
4. Hire someone who can speak your suppliers’ language.
Communication is important in business, which is why it is important that your agent speaks to your suppliers’ language. If you’re importing from China, obviously you should hire a Chinese-speaking agent – better yet, a Chinese native. At the same time, the person should also be able to communicate with you fluently.