Following are the main services most sourcing agent provide:
1) Sourcing product suppliers
It is the basic service of every sourcing agent to verify and select the supplier that meets the requirements of their clients. And they will negotiate with the supplier on behalf of the buyer to get the best price and confirm the details of production.
However, some buyers may be entangled in whether the sourcing agent/company should give the supplier information to them. Some even think the agent is cheating them or making shady money by not giving the supplier information to them.
Let me explain to you here, whether the supplier information is provided to the buyer depends on the service model of the sourcing agent.
Individual sourcing agent
Some individual sourcing agents can be found on Fiverr or Upwork, who are usually paid a fixed salary (by hour/day) or can be paid a fixed commission for one project. This mode of cooperation is just like finding yourself a sourcing assistant in a foreign country.
Essentially, the buyer pays the salary to get the supplier information, so it is the obligation for the agent to provide the supplier’s contacts to his boss–the buyer and the buyers themselves will communicate with the suppliers to negotiate the price.
If it is a sourcing company /agency, they will not give the supplier information directly to the buyer. The following are the two core reasons.
Firstly, these quality suppliers are their accumulated resources (including those can’t be found on B2B websites), which is why you can get a competitive price from the sourcing company.
Secondly, they charge their service fees by a certain percentage of the total value of goods, that is to say, this is their profit model. (I will discuss the sourcing agent/company charge methods further in question 5 later).
Although they are not telling the buyer the factory contact information, they are willing to take the buyer to visit the factory and let the buyer have a certain understanding of the production ability of the factory. But this usually happens with larger orders. If the buyers order small value like $1,000 shoes or $1,000 hats, they are less likely to take buyers to visit the factory overseas.
2) Follow-up production, inspect the quality, and arrange shipment
After finding a suitable supplier, it’s time to arrange the production of goods. Sourcing agents/companies will help coordinate with the factory, monitoring the whole production process and make sure the factory finishes the production on time and the goods are of fine quality.
They will also provide a quality inspection service. They will cooperate with the quality inspection company to inspect the finished products and minimize the defective rate before shipment.
Then comes the last step– shipping arrangement, which requires a high level of expertise. Because apart from a bargain for the most competitive shipping prices, they will also need to inform you what documents and product certificates you should prepare for the custom.
These services are also available by most sourcing agents/companies. You can choose any part of their services based on your own situation.
3) Other services
In addition to the mainstream services mentioned above, some large professional sourcing companies also offer private label solutions, including but not limited to the following aspects:
Customize the product
Free product photography for eCommerce
In a word, there are good as well as bad sourcing agents in this industry. This leads to the result that many buyers afraid to try the sourcing service. Therefore, it is important to find a reliable sourcing agent for long-term cooperation and a stable supply chain.