How to find a sourcing agent in China online in 2021?

Are you a successful business owner who wants to stay competitive? Or maybe you’re just starting out and looking for a product sourcing option at a lower price? Maybe you want to scale your business and think that your best option is to source products from China?

In any of these situations, you need to find reliable suppliers that can manufacture your product, check the samples, control the quality on every step, and ensure that your goods will be delivered on time.

Instead of looking for a suitable supplier by yourself, you can delegate this work to people who know how to do it professionally and save yourself time and money. This is what sourcing agents and companies are for. They can help you during the whole process.

I have experience working with about 200 agents over the last five years because I own a sourcing company in China. Basically, we act as a sourcing agent. You can hire me and my team here in China to source and handle your product.

The following information can help you form your own opinion, and decide for yourself if you want to go with a Chinese sourcing agent or to let us handle the work for you.

Step 1: Why do you need a sourcing agent?

So what is the purpose of sourcing agents in China? They are the bridge between you and suppliers. They will reduce the risk of importing from overseas and help you to get the best price on the market. Also, in addition to speaking the local language of the country you choose to work with, they also know how to navigate the culture and how to handle the specific nuances that require the most attention. Importantly, they know the market – for example, the factories of consumer electronics products are in Shenzhen, most of the clothes factories are in Guangzhou, so it makes sense to work with factories from the place that matches your needs.

When you’re working with distributors, it’s very important that the products are going to be delivered on time and with the right quality. It’s difficult to follow up on the work of suppliers and check everything when you’re not in the country. Sourcing agents take care of the supplier relationship – communication, production management, quality control on every step, pre-shipment inspection and shipment arrangement, etc.

Are there downsides of using a sourcing agent? Yes, because you don’t know your suppliers personally, and your product sourcing agent is responsible for very important processes, he is a connecting link between you and suppliers. So it’s important to always hold an interview with your potential sourcing agents and trust your gut feelings about them.

In the long term, sourcing agents reduce overall expenses and provide security, so they can be great contributors to your business success.

Step 2: Use a good tool to find a sourcing agent

Looking for a quality, trustworthy sourcing agent (in China) can be challenging. That’s why it’s important to use the right tools.

The one tool that I love is Upwork. I used other freelance platforms, such as Fiverr and Freelancer, but Upwork works best for me and is the best way to find a sourcing agent in China. It’s usually more expensive but people on this platform are more professional. With sourcing, it’s much more expensive to have a cheap agent who gives you unreliable suppliers than to pay a bit extra for a better one.

If you want to work with a company, you can call us and we will do the sourcing for you.

Step 3: Attract the sourcing agent that is right for you

You want to attract people who are interested in working with you and with who you can communicate easily. That’s why you need to create a job post with a precise target in mind.

To find a sourcing agent on Upwork, create your account first. Next, you’ll need to post a job.

Create a new job post for a short-term or part-time job. Then enter the title of the job (for example, “Sourcing agent – Amazon FBA”), next choose a category “Sourcing & Procurement”. You can specify if it’s for drop shipping or for bulk orders, my example is for bulk orders.

screenshot - create a new job post on upwork

In the next step, you need to write a description. A good description includes requirements to the deliverables, the type of freelancer you’re looking for, and any unique things about the project.

Wondering how to write a proper job description? We prepared a free template that you can download. Let’s imagine that you want to source market pens. You can formulate it like this: “I’m looking for a reliable agent with more than five years of experience in sourcing private label products in China.  The products I’m looking for are priced around $2-$6” (use your price range). Then specify how many units you need. So you can say something like “Usually I’m looking 500 to 1000 units for the first order and follow up orders will be around 1000-3000 units”.

After that, you need to specify what exactly this job will include. For example, “Contacting and filtering suppliers that you have a good impression about”. This is basically when they’re looking for direct manufacturers and sending you the five best quotations, instead of looking for them on Alibaba and dealing with trading companies by yourself.

Also, you’ll want them to order a very simple product sample. I like to offer $50 upfront plus the shipping cost. The up-front payment shows the potential contractor that you’re serious and you actually care about the quality of the product.

If I’m happy with the quotes and the product quality, we can move to the rest of the sourcing process: negotiating prices, packaging, developing the product with your personal logo, and negotiating with the factories until the product and packaging are perfect. After that, they can send a sample.

How much does a sourcing agent cost? Usually, I offer 5% on the total order value. So if you order something for $10,000, then the fee is gonna be $500. Also, the agent will handle follow-up orders for you, so if you want long-term cooperation, you need to offer at least 5%.

Now your job description is ready! You can upload any additional information about your product or company, and any important files.

On the next page, you should choose “One-time project”. You can add some questions (I personally like to do it during the interview). Next, you can add any skills that your future agent should have, and the required experience. Do you want an entry-level specialist, intermediate, or expert? I like to look for intermediate or expert because these professionals are already good at their job. Point out how many people are you looking for to do this job. Then check the “Invite only” option. On the next page, we set a fixed price and put $250 in there to attract the right kind of people.

Screenshot - Upwork - What skills does your work require?

Now you can post your job but nobody will see it yet because it’s “Invite only”. We need to find sourcing agents (you will see some recommendations on the page). Also, you want to find Chinese people specifically for a better price. Go through the list of people and see if somebody suits your needs. You can invite them to see your job post or you can start chatting with them and ask important questions.

Don’t forget: the best way to secure yourself is to work through a signed contract containing all the important details.

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If you want to learn more about sourcing your products in China, then subscribe to our YouTube channel, we will make more videos and blog posts on the topic.

If you’re looking for a sourcing agent in China, contact us. We’re an experienced sourcing company based in Shenzhen, China. We will help your business to grow.

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