How to Find a Sourcing Agent in China and Why do I need one?

How to Find a Sourcing Agent in China and why do I need one?

In this blog post we will be discussing how you can find a sourcing agent in China and why you do, or don’t need one.

The first question we need to ask ourselves is;

What do I need from a sourcing agent?

Many services are offered by agents worldwide, these agents work with Chinese factories and suppliers.

Sourcing agents in the first aspect of the role represent you, the buyer. They source commodities and buy your products on your behalf.


Traditionally sourcing agents do just that, Source. However, agents can offer a multitude of services.

This can include:

  • Finding the right supplier
  • Auditing the supplier
  • Searching and finding the right price
  • Conduct price negotiations
  • Production follow up
  • Conduct quality control
  • Ensure product compliance is met
  • conduct testing,
  • assist with shipping.

It’s a long list of services, right?

Be sure to ask the questions of services offered when finding your agent.

What if I have no Experience in Dealing With China?

If you have next to no experience in dealing with suppliers, quality control or importing and need help finding a supplier in China for any of your components or commodities; do not fear.

You have taken the first steps in the right direction.

I would advise taking a look at our post on a brief introduction on how to source in China.

Let’s ask ourselves the question again; what do I need an agent to do?

If it’s just to source an item that you already have an idea of there are many options you can choose.

Do you want a cheap and cheerful 3-4-day search of suppliers using known search systems, utilising a Chinese speaking contact?

If so, there are systems in place that can be utilised without too much time nor investment.

B2B services have exploded in recent years, allowing individuals to provide you with a basic list of suppliers who can meet your needs.

Or, do you want a comprehensive service that not only provides you with a list of suppliers, but vets them too, monitors initial batches, tests and ensures shipping is on time and right. Driven from a comprehensive RFQ and tenure process (have a look at why we here at Merchsprout, would advise understanding an RFQ, and how to construct one: Make an RFQ for a Chinese Supplier)?

Have a search around the market for the best solution for you.

Be sure to remember though, your time is money, it may look easy on the surface to quickly search on Alibaba for the commodity you require, spend a fortune on setting up the deal, shipping and waiting.

Only for your items to arrive in your destination country, not to specification, or a different component to the one you ordered. I can tell you from experience, this happens…. Frequently; and it’s a costly mistake.

A Sourcing agent is required!

What services can I expect; Bang for my Buck?

Sourcing services and fees vary greatly between agents and sourcing agencies. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each.

Be sure to gain all the information of services and fees associated with each level of service that is offered at the start.

Often, sourcing companies will offer some of the basics for free, then charging a percentage fee as the services increase.

Both initial upfront costs and free basics have their benefits and pitfalls.

Free basic services:

These are great if you want to reduce your exposure to investment. However, you may want to be wary of these services if they seem un-professional, have poor communication skills or you just don’t have that ‘gut feeling’ about them.

We have seen in the past the ‘free’ services work with partnered suppliers, meaning that you may not get the real low-cost benefits or quality products that you expect.

Initial small finding fee for suppliers: This system has its benefits as a new buyer sourcing in China, you will have a better feeling that these sourcing agents have a lower risk of taking ‘kick-backs’ from their initial sources suppliers, and the list of suppliers that are generated by them; the majority of the time, more impartial and a fairer assessment of the supplier.

Regardless, it’s entirely up to you which service you choose to follow on with.

Here at Merchsprout, we would advise that a small upfront fee, with a contract of service, is the best route to go down.

After the initial finding of suppliers, a good sourcing agent or agency will provide a shortlist of vetted suppliers.

This usually comes from pure instinct based on past supplier experience. If the supplier is active and engaging from the start, asking the right questions and just better to deal with, it’s a good sign of things to come.

Additional Services

We can arrange an entire turnkey solution for your product from source to your dorm(UK only the majority of other markets can arrange CPT, please get in touch). Trouble-free sourcing solutions. Or add us on Linked in here.

We can calculate an accurate cost from the initial sourcing that has quality baked in. Get in touch for a free quotation.