These days most businesses are either importing or outsourcing from China, as the country has developed massive production facilities to manufacture almost everything. However, to do a business with a Chinese company can be really very tough if you want to go it solo particularly for the businessmen of Western countries.
Many people who have tried to do business with any Chinese companies have certainly heard about a Chinese agent or a certain Chinese sourcing agency, however many are not fully aware of what role they can play and how can aid in the success of your business.
So, in this short article, we will try to answer all the common questions that many of you must be having regarding Chinese agents in a brief manner.
What a China sourcing agent is？
Basically, a Chinese agent is going to be the eyes and ears of your business in China. Besides finding a suitable company for your product a Chinese sourcing agency can help you in the following:
- Doing price negotiation
- Regular follow-ups
- Maintain the quality of your product
- Necessary compliance
- Testing your product either self or through a 3rd party agency
- Shipping your product
- Managing the logistics
- Mailing you timely alerts
You can also negotiate with your agent about what role you want them to play on your behalf. The agent can be a single individual or a certain established company with a team of people having good experience in local industries and can very much familiar in speaking English as well as Mandarine.
There can be both a native Chinese as an agent and also a certain westerner having their company in China who can offer you such service. You must prefer to select an agent who is quite well familiar with the product that you want to source.
Why should you need to hire a Chinese agent?
The Chinese business culture is quite unique and so is their language. For any businessman who is not familiar with the local business culture or the language will be totally at loss while doing any product sourcing from China.
It will be extremely difficult for any businessmen from outside country to communicate with them and the way they conduct the business is also quite different from your country. That is where a Chinese sourcing agency can play a very effective role and support your business.
If you can develop a good rapport with your Chinese agent then the success of your business is assured. There are many such agents available and also there is a quite a bit of competition among them. Therefore, there is a good chance that you can get a good Chinese agent as per your budget.
Using the services of any sourcing agent entails more than just paying for them. You will be paying for the sourcing agent’s years of experience and also networking connections.
Why not buy your products from Chinese manufacturers directly?
There are many businessmen however, are not fully convinced about hiring a Chinese agent. They think that it is an additional expense and prefer to deal with Chinese manufacturers directly. However, there are following reasons to hire a Chinese agent that they are not aware of:
- Most manufacturers are usually reluctant to deal with any foreign company directly.
- Chinese companies’ do all businesses in Mandarin language and in any Chinese company there may or may not be any person who speak or understand English well.
- Many Chinese companies may demand upfront payment for the raw materials and components that many businesses are reluctant to pay to start with
- Lead time of Chinese companies can often be an issue and to travel all the way to China can be quite difficult for any business companies to sort out the issue
You may therefore get totally stuck in your business and this is where a Chinese agent can easily bail you out. An agent can communicate effectively with the local manufacturer and sort out various issues. Also the Chinese manufacturing company will trust an agent more as compared to any foreign businessman.
In addition to that, quality can always be an issue if you deal directly with the Chinese manufacturer. Also, shipping the products can be quite complex where many government rules can totally derail your delivery schedule.
An experienced Chinese sourcing agency is aware of all these issues and can play a very effective role and can help you to maintain a smooth business operation with a Chinese company.
How to hire a suitable Chinese agent for your business?
The following are the few steps that you must adopt while appointing any suitable Chinese sourcing agency for your business:
- Get referrals
Any good sourcing agent will have a plenty of happy customer and hence he will be readily sharing you referrals. If the agent shows reluctance in sharing the details of his past clients then don’t proceed further.
- Check their experience
Check the background experience of your agent and particularly what kind of exposure has he got on the product that you are interested to import from China. Prefer an agent having at least 10 years of experience in this business.
- Ask a few relevant questions
The following are a few relevant questions that you may ask your prospective Chinese sourcing agent:
- How do you locate any specific manufacturers?
- Have you got a checklist to decide manufacturer quality?
- Since when you know all these manufacturers?
- In case I ever plan to visit China, can you arrange a factory visit?
- Will you offer any discount if we become your regular customer?
- What is your company structure and how many people working with you?
- What kind of support can I expect to get from you?
- How will ensure the quality of my product?
- Decide the fees
Last but certainly not the least, you must ask his fees. Remember there are many cases of kickbacks are also reported about many Chinese agents. So, you must not squeeze his fees to that extent that he may try to compensate that with kickbacks from the manufacturer. It can jeopardize your business.
You can search for a reliable Chinese agent online or you can discuss with any of your business colleagues who has already used a Chinese agent.