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How does a sourcing agent work?

Many business owners reach out to us with no idea of how much we can actually help. Our latest article explains exactly what we do (it’s probably much more than you think).

March 30, 2022

Setting up a business is an exciting time. You have spent months or even longer growing your idea from a seed to a sapling, documenting a clear plan and figuring out how to deliver the very best to your target audience. 

In many cases, the next step is to start thinking about what you will need to source and where these products will come from. Whether you’re starting a retail business, manufacturing goods or setting up a venue, the reality is that at least some of your supplies will be based overseas. 

The challenge comes from not just finding what you need but ensuring you have a reliable supplier who charges a fair price. 

But where do you start? And how do you know you’re doing the right things when you have little awareness of industry benchmarks? 

If you want to save time and money by getting things right the first time, your best option is to enlist the help of a sourcing agent.

How does a sourcing agent work?

We’re so glad you asked! 

A sourcing agent is an expert who helps small to medium-sized businesses to find reliable manufacturers and suitable products in China and other countries. 

The benefit of using a sourcing agent is that you get the insights of an industry expert without having to cover the full-time costs of an employee. Your sourcing agent can do the following for you: 

  • Research and verify suppliers 
  • Source the products you need 
  • Arrange to have your products manufactured
  • Check and compare costs between suppliers
  • Take care of due diligence
  • Arrange for samples to be provided
  • Negotiate costs and contracts
  • Arrange to import your goods
  • Conduct quality control checks
  • Conduct factory inspections
  • Handle the transfer of payments
  • Find the best shipping costs and options
  • Review the ethics and sustainable practices of suppliers

We’re not talking about paying someone a few hundred dollars to scour the Alibaba website. Basically, this agent acts as your ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground. They usually have a physical presence in both countries, for example with offices in Sydney and a team that calls China home. 

How it works

To get started, reach out to a few different sourcing agents to find one who can meet your specific needs. If you are looking to import from China, find someone who is well-connected in this part of the world.

When you’re ready to proceed, your experience will probably look something like this:

  • You have a meeting with your sourcing agent to go over your needs.
  • Your sourcing agent conducts product research to find out which manufacturer can offer the right goods at the right price.
  • Suppliers will be visited in person by someone based in China to verify quality and production methods.
  • The product is developed or a sample is delivered.
  • Your sourcing agent handles pricing negotiation and fills in the necessary gaps by arranging shipping etc.
  • You receive your ready to sell or use product.
  • You continue your relationship with the supplier or stay in touch with your sourcing agent for additional support.

Your service may also include a product feasibility assessment and the monitoring of production so any issues can be rapidly resolved. 

At Epic Sourcing, we have an epic network of over 1600 suppliers and manufacturers in China. Every provider is thoroughly vetted and we supply validation reports so you know exactly who you're working with.

We also ensure that our suppliers’ factory workers:

  • Receive award wages
  • Only use adult labour
  • Comply with occupational health and safety protocols
  • Follow sustainable manufacturing practices

Why use a sourcing agent?

Now you know the answer to the question ‘How does sourcing agent work?’, here are five quick reasons to work with one instead of navigating the complex world (and it is literally a whole world) of sourcing products on your own:

  • Avoid dealing with language barriers
  • Skip cross-cultural confusion
  • Work with clear timelines that keep the production schedules of other countries in mind
  • Ensure you’re not paying too much
  • Source quality products that do what you need them to
  • Get your goods sooner and with less stress

Ok, that was six reasons but we can assure you there are many more! 

When you’re ready to find out more about how a sourcing agent can work for your business, get in touch with Epic Sourcing.

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How to find reliable suppliers in China

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  • Actionable advice from industry experts
  • Tips to help you save time and money
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