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Why You Should Use a Sourcing Agent / Import Consultant When Importing From Asia

Sourcing from China can be a daunting task. Here we look at how a sourcing agent can streamline the process.

July 28, 2020

For businesses in Australia, the big benefit of sourcing from Asia is obvious: lower production costs.

But what’s not so crystal clear is the best way to go about it.

While going it alone is possible, many budding young entrepreneurs underestimate the challenges involved: vast language gaps, confusing business cultures, complex shipping processes, and so on. Therefore, engaging the expertise of an experienced import consultant is well worth considering.

In this post, we’ll examine the key reasons you should consider enlisting a sourcing agent (like me) when importing products from Asia.

Local Expertise

Doing business in Asia is a daunting prospect as there’s no shortage of unscrupulous suppliers (or outright scammers) out there. For the rookie entrepreneur, going it alone might feel akin to walking on a tightrope with a blindfold on—one tiny misstep, and it all comes crashing down.

But with a sourcing agent at your side, that flimsy tightrope transforms into a structurally sound bridge. Your trusty consultant has the expertise to close the technical, cultural and language divide.

By having a sourcing agent in your corner, you’ve got a local expert who speaks the language fluently and understands the complexities of Asian business culture. In the importation game, a simple misunderstanding can lead to a massive loss. It’s worth getting an insider to wade through the process on your behalf.

What’s more, a local sourcing agent has the communication skills to foster a trustful and long-lasting relationship with your preferred supplier. That way, you can reap the benefits of those sweet low-production costs for many more years to come.  

Find the Best Supplier

Finding the right supplier for your bright business idea is the most crucial step in the sourcing process, hands down. But if you choose to tackle the task alone, you’d be left to sift through pages of possible candidates, many of whom will deliver lacklustre results.

A good sourcing agent, on the other hand, already has an extensive list of pre-vetted suppliers and manufacturers in Asia. That way, they can sort the wheat from the chaff, eliminating substandard suppliers and bringing you a shortlist of the best in the business. A sourcing agent does the due diligence on your behalf, reducing the risk and increasing transparency with every step of the process.

A reputable sourcing agent can audit an existing supplier or validate a potential new one. As such, you can obtain a clear understanding of who you’re dealing with.

Not only does that due diligence minimise risk, but it also gives you peace of mind throughout the process.

Sourcing Straight from the Source

A sourcing agent lets you skip the middleman, streamlining the communication process and side-stepping hidden fees.

The most popular online marketplaces (Alibaba, etc.) are ram-packed full of middlemen who purchase products in bulk and sell them to customers with a healthy mark up. Those fees add up fast, especially over the long term.

A sourcing agent, on the other hand, puts you in touch with the manufacturer directly to ensure you get the best possible deal.

Most of the time, these money-grabbing middlemen masquerade as the manufacturers themselves—many won’t even disclose they’re a third-party seller. This creates problems should any order issues arise, as the customer won’t have direct contact with the manufacturer to iron out the kinks.

Skilled Local Negotiators

Fancy yourself as a bit of a boss bargainer?

Great, but have you ever tried negotiating in Cantonese?

Atop-quality sourcing agent not only speaks the local language, but they’ve got years of experience in haggling with suppliers on your behalf. A sourcing agent will secure the best deal and then ensure both parties are on the same page regarding the fine print.

Pinpointing the best possible deal and negotiating favourable contract terms is no easy feat when dealing with a foreign supplier. An experienced, multilingual agent like Epic Sourcing, however, can do just that.

Constant Communication

Clear lines of communication are essential to sourcing success.

The sourcing agent is your go-to representative when liaising with Asian manufacturers, suppliers, and shipping agents. Not only does having a local expert on your side save significant cash (and stress), but it also allows you to resolve any potential issues promptly.

What’s more, an Australian company doing business with an Asian manufacturer will be working in an entirely different time zone. Do you really want to try to breakdown the language barrier and resolve critical issues in the middle of the night?

Epic Sourcing has a Sydney office and numerous representatives on the ground in Asia, which allows us to maintain clear lines of communication around the clock.  

Problem-Solving Like a Pro

We’ll be frank: sourcing isn’t always straightforward.

Issues will inevitably arise upon travelling down the procurement path, not least when you’re dealing with foreign suppliers.

A good sourcing agent won’t only address upcoming issues; they’ll also anticipate potential problems before they arise. Years of experience sourcing products and working with suppliers gives the agent a keen sense of the most common roadblocks.

Say, for example, you’ve just received your first sample, and it doesn’t live up to expectations. A sourcing agent will spring into action, working with you and the supplier to rectify the issue. By negotiating amendments or identifying an entirely new supplier, the agent solves the problem while you sit back and relax.

Found yourself in a bit of a sourcing squeeze? Let’s talk it through.

Ongoing Support

If you’re a procurement pro who’s already importing container loads of products from Asia, a sourcing agent can still help streamline or manage the process.

Perhaps you’d like to audit your preferred manufacturer, or you need help pinpointing the perfect shipping option. Or maybe you need to wrap your head around those bewildering import regulations and customs documentations. In either case, atop-quality agent can walk you through any stage of the sourcing process.

If you’d like to learn more about the specific steps of the sourcing process, hop over to our Services Page.

How to Find the Right Sourcing Agent

Unfortunately, not all sourcing agents are competent or trustworthy, and enlisting a dodgy operator could cost you dearly. With that in mind, take the time to do your due diligence when seeking out a suitable option.

Anyone can call themselves a sourcing agent in Australia, so it’s worth finding out as much information as possible about your preferred option before signing an agreement. Insist on a transparent sourcing agent that clearly outlines their fees, as some elusive outfits may have vested interests or hidden costs.

At Epic Sourcing, we provide most of our services at an hourly rate with no minimum commitment. This transparent pricing policy eliminates potential conflicts of interest with our suppliers and gives our customers a clear indication of what costs to expect.

Interested? We offer a FREE initial consultation to get the ball rolling. Fill out our Booking Form to organise a session.  

Get in Touch With Epic Sourcing Today

While tackling the sourcing process alone is possible, it’s a huge hassle that’s fraught with risk. If you decide to proceed, do your research beforehand, put together a comprehensive sourcing plan, and approach each step with utmost care.

Aussie businesses looking to move production to Asia should consider investing in an agent like Epic Sourcing. With an expert team of professionals based in both Australia and Asia, we can streamline the process, mitigate the risk, and secure a favourable deal on your behalf.

If you’d like to book a free consultation with us, drop a line through our Booking Form. We love chatting with enthusiastic entrepreneurs and helping them succeed with their sourcing efforts.  

For more pro tips on the sourcing process, check out the Epic Blog. We’ll be adding informative and actionable content each month, so watch this space.

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