It is quite challenging to work with Chinese manufacturers. Language barriers, a lack of physical presence, and a lack of business understanding in China are some of these factors.
These factors might all have a big impact on your imported items and, consequently, the performance of your company.
For this reason, people search for sourcing agents for their companies. Most enterprises in China rely on the assistance of a sourcing agency.
Whether hiring a sourcing agent is really such a big deal?
Imagine your company managing numerous projects in China. It would be wise to hire a full-time dedicated staff to source new suppliers, monitor your production, and ensure the quality and timely delivery of your products.
For a moment, consider what you would expect from the team manager.
In a Chinese context, it is best if your manager has good experience managing a function and a large group of people. A company’s management in China has its own dynamics.
A Chinese manager must be aware of a full set of Chinese-specific nuances. The least that is needed is, he is familiar with the lingo and culture of China so that he is able to communicate effectively, the urgency of the situation and inspire all others to help him when he needs assistance from them.
Also, he should know your language so that he can coordinate with you effectively. Besides, a lot of resourcefulness and problem-solving will be needed, and one must have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Last but not the least he must be aware of your product and your market as well.
Anyone can be much more successful if they have a clear understanding of how things work in China and what the various local practices are.
The difference between completing a project on time and underachieving can be found in their network of contacts, who can help them get a source of information on short notice whenever they need it.
Unless you understand how business in China operates and the business culture of China, you cannot deal with people effectively. You need to maintain a better personal rapport with an important vendor.
Also, above all, it is important that your manager should be honest, trustworthy, smart, and ethical. In case he is not, the rest of the other attributes are of no importance.
Therefore, while looking for your Chinese sourcing agents you need to make sure that your agent has got all these traits. Therefore, you can judge whether you have got the right agent for you by asking a few sets of questions.
Let us, therefore, discuss what questions that you must ask your prospective Chinese sourcing agents before hiring them.
1. Are you ready to share the address of the factory so that I can visit?
You have little influence over how the factory treats your products, especially once they leave the facility. Therefore, if the sourcing agency declines your request, then you have no opportunity of developing a relationship with the company.
2. Are you having a team or only a one-person service?
Even an individual sourcing agent can also be good enough as such, however, it is worth knowing ahead of time what finally you will get into.
This is because often single-person sourcing agents may more easily disappear without giving any notice rather than a sourcing agency having a company.
3. How long are you associated with this business?
If they have been active in the market for a considerable amount of time—say more than 10 years—they will have developed relationships with factories across China that are involved in a wide range of industries.
In the end, this increases your chances of getting your product built to your specifications at a fair price.
4. What do you specialize in?
Getting the very finest goods manufactured for you requires knowing what sector, product, or commodity a sourcing agent specialises in.
Due to the differences in inspection procedures, a sourcing agent who specialises in computer products will benefit differently than one who specialises in plastic toys. So, it is wise to understand their area of expertise.
5. How much do you know about my product?
Do your Chinese sourcing agents with whom you are discussing know enough about your product in particular, which you are interested to source from China?
If the agent has previous experience working in a manufacturing company related to your product, then it will always be a plus point.
6. Can you share your customer details so that I can check your background?
You can more easily determine whether or not this sourcing agent is dependable by asking this question.
The number of positive recommendations a sourcing agent has will let you know whether or not they are a good source. Any good
Chinese sourcing agents will never shy away from sharing the details of their previous clients.
7. What is your qualifying process when you select a factory?
This query enables you to evaluate the sourcing agent’s dependability. It is critical to understand whether a manufacturer delivers goods on schedule and to specifications.
Before, during, and after a product is created, good sourcing representatives conduct factory checks and inspections.
8. How do you ensure quality?
Sometimes a sourcing agent only handles the sourcing; you will then need to locate a third party to conduct factory inspections.
This is time-consuming, more expensive, and could result in misunderstandings between parties. Determining up front exactly what the sourcing agency will perform for you is therefore beneficial for you.
9. How will you charge for your service?
It is wise to be aware of a sourcing agent’s cost structure in advance. Is it a one-time, fixed cost? Or is it dependent on a percentage based on the total amount of your order?
10. Do you get any kickbacks from the factory you recommend?
The sourcing agent will find it difficult to respond to one of the most crucial questions, but it must be asked.
Finding the ideal Chinese sourcing agents can be as challenging as locating your initial goods. There are several factors to consider. It is difficult to troubleshoot every option.
However, once you have identified the right agent, it will direct your company along a far more stable road.