8 Pros and Cons of Working With Sourcing Agents in China

Finding a quality manufacturer in China can be a daunting task. If you don’t know the market, don’t speak the language, and you don’t have the means to travel to China – you’re probably going to have a hard time picking the right supplier for your needs.

It’s why many businesses rely on sourcing agents to do the job for them. Like everything else, these services come with their pros and cons.

In this article, we’ll analyze the advantages and disadvantages of working with sourcing agents in China to help you get a clearer picture of the topic in question.

So, without any further ado, let’s get right to the bottom of it!

The pros

1. Take the work off your shoulders

China has a vast manufacturing market – it’s commonly referred to as „the world’s factory“. Finding a supplier in these conditions can be quite difficult for a newcomer. It takes time, effort, and money, all of which represent limited resources for a smaller company. Working with professional sourcing agents allows you to invest those resources into growing your company, which can be crucial for a developing business.

Either way, if you don’t have the time or energy to look for Chinese manufacturers yourself, hiring a sourcing agent might be the perfect solution for you.

2. Break language barriers

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Sourcing agents that specialize in Chinese markets have important skills you might lack – the main one being the knowledge of the Chinese language. Even though most of the larger international manufacturers in China have representatives that can speak English, connecting with the smaller suppliers can be made impossible by the language barrier. This can limit your choices in a major way – your only option is to hire a translator or a sourcing agent. The latter is usually quite cheaper.

3. Access to a larger network of suppliers

Quality sourcing agents already have a huge network of Chinese manufacturers they can connect you with. They might even be able to introduce you to certain companies that aren’t doing their business on large manufacturing websites such as Alibaba. All of this increases your chances of finding the perfect supplier who can fulfill all of your specific needs and requirements.

Besides that, sourcing agents can do the job much more quickly than you – they already have a list of potential suppliers ready for you at all times.

4. Negotiation skills

If you’re an industry newbie, your negotiation skills are probably still a bit underdeveloped. You might miss a couple of great deals if you’re not prepared to negotiate with the suppliers.

Sourcing agents, on the other hand, know exactly how to get you the best possible deal. It’s a skill that’s required for their line of work, so most of them have it mastered. If you know how to utilize this, you’ll get a huge competitive advantage by lowering your production costs as much as possible.

Of course, you should make sure to pick a quality sourcing agent with years of experience in the industry. You can learn more about what makes a good sourcing agent on the link we’ve provided.

The disadvantages

1. No direct communication

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As your company grows, you’ll need to have established business relationships with your industry peers. Sourcing agents, in a way, rob you of the opportunity to build a partnership with your suppliers. You’ll lose the direct line of communication with the manufacturer, which can be quite frustrating at times, especially if your sourcing agent isn’t doing a great job of representing you.

If you’d rather communicate with your suppliers yourself, perhaps this type of service simply isn’t for you.

2. Your agent can become unavailable

If your sourcing agent happens to have an emergency or goes on their yearly vacation without notifying you, you won’t have any way to reach out to your manufacturer. This leaves you in the dark about where your goods are, which can slow down your operations in a major way.

We’re not saying something like this is bound to happen when you’re working with a sourcing agent, but it’s certainly a possibility, especially if you’ve accidentally chosen an unreliable agent.

3. Hidden commissions

Like in any other line of work, certain sourcing agents can be quite shady in the ways they operate. If you’re not careful with who you decide to work with, you might end up with someone who’s trying to rip you off by charging secret commissions.

Again, this is the case only with certain agents who’re greedy and don’t care about their reputation. It’s why you’ll need to put some research into finding the best possible agent out there. Look for someone who specializes in the Chinese manufacturing market, has loads of experience, and receives stellar reviews and ratings online.

4. You have less control over the relationship with the manufacturer

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Manufacturing something overseas is already a complex process – what if your product ends up being nothing like you’ve expected or requested? You won’t be able to raise your concerns with the factory – it all goes through your agent. This can be frustrating at times, as your agent might not be good at conveying your requests properly.

All of this can be avoided by choosing the right agent, so make sure you choose wisely. Always do your research to ensure you’re not getting manipulated into something you don’t want. It’s the case with all business relationships – establishing trust is of the utmost importance. If you feel like you can’t trust your agent, it’s time to move on to other solutions.

The bottom line

All in all, working with a sourcing agent in China can be one of the best decisions you’ve made for your business. It does carry some risks and disadvantages, so make sure you’re ready to deal with those before you hire one for your manufacturing needs.

We hope you found our short article to be helpful and we wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.