Table of Contents

What is a sourcing agent?

A China sourcing agent or sourcing agent companies play a vital role in the international market. To simply put, a sourcing agent’s job is to find the right supplier for the sellers. Product sourcing means finding a source (i.e., supplier) or the products you want to sell. They are the third-party service providers and help you in getting the right source.

The need for such third-party agents is high, especially in global trade. So, when it comes to finding the right product at less price, the ideal country is China. The reason is here almost all products are manufactured and available at a lower price than any other country. So, the sourcing agent must communicate with the local suppliers in their language, and they are also familiar with the local customs.
Purchasing agent
Purchasing agent or purchasing office helps to procure the products you are looking for. Both sourcing agents and purchasing agents do similar jobs, but the sourcing agent takes commissions, and the purchasing agent does the job of a trader. He purchases the items from local vendors at low prices and sells them to the buyer adding profit. Buying from purchasing agent is suitable if the purchasing quantity is less.

Sourcing Agent Vs. Sourcing Company What’s the difference?

In the international market, people often use both sourcing agents and sourcing companies in a single meaning. For example, if anyone needs to find suppliers in China, they say find me a sourcing agent or find me a souring company. But it is not the right thing to do because there are many differences between these two entities. So, let us understand what those are.

Sourcing Agent
A sourcing agent can be an individual person who helps you source the product for full time. Usually, sourcing agents are individual, and they work individually or with the help of another assistant. They work in small offices or use their home as an office. Many people may have the experience of working for sourcing companies or trading companies. You can easily find these types of China sourcing agents on a freelance basis on popular freelancing websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, etc., and you can even find some sourcing websites through their websites.

Sourcing Companies

The sourcing companies are also known as sourcing agencies, which assist in sourcing, quality inspecting, shipping, and warehousing. It is backed by a team of experts who know how to handle all these activities with efficiency. These types of companies are more efficient and provide services for different customers simultaneously. These sourcing companies are usually located in industrial areas. In China, you can find sourcing companies in Guangzhou, Yiwu, and Shenzhen.

Why use a sourcing company?

There are several reasons for choosing a sourcing company. Since many online platforms need products from several different sources, a sourcing company can help you acquire the products you are looking for in a particular area. The below reasons tell you why you need a sourcing company.

If you choose a reputed sourcing company, language doesn’t become a barrier to your transactions. When you need to negotiate, the sourcing companies’ experts help you brief every specification or the product you want to buy from a supplier. And they also assist in verifying everything is included in the product.
To save time
The main reason to hire a sourcing company is to save precious time. The sourcing companies help you to find suppliers and get things done on time. Sourcing companies help you to get start things right away and in the right way. You don’t need to negotiate and brief about your requirements; the sourcing company, will do that on your behalf.
Easy to verify certificates
If you choose a supplier for your products, it is imperative to check and verify the certificates and licenses. It ensures whether they are performing the business in the right manner and as per the local laws. Since these certificates will usually be in native languages, you can’t perform all these things. Sourcing companies help you verify these details and prevent working with scammers who do business on fake agencies’ licenses and names. Hence, if you choose a sourcing company, you can easily mitigate the risk of getting scammed.
Easy to negotiate
The most difficult job for foreigners in China or any other unknown country is making negotiation. But this will be easily handled by the local sourcing companies who will be well aware of the common practices and customs of the locality. After knowing the right price and negotiation techniques, they can help you get the products at lower prices without compromising the specifications you are looking for.
Great network and experience
There is no substitute for experience. If you hire a sourcing company, you can get sourcing agents with vast experience and a wider network. In the past, they may have worked with several manufacturers, and they will be aware of where to look for the products you are looking for. Hence, through their extensive experience in the market and awareness about the manufacturers, they help you get the right supplier.

You can look for a suitable supplier yourself?

Yes, there are numerous ways to find the right supplier as per your needs. You can find them through freelance servicing websites such as Fiverr, Upwork,, etc., or you can google them and get the right one for you. Many companies have their own websites, and you can connect through websites and get the things you need.

Advantages of China sourcing agent

Selection of the right supplier as per your needs
You can see thousands of manufacturers in China, and for new people, it becomes challenging to select the right supplier. The main barrier is communication, and the sourcing agent helps you to fill this bridge. Adding to the communication gap, many suppliers are not familiar with the shipment, and it may take a longer time than expected. But the right sourcing agent helps you in all these aspects. They can verify the authenticity of the supplier and help you in picking the right one. Additionally, there are many people you can find online; they can call themselves suppliers, but they actually mediators. They buy from the other manufacturers and sell to the buyers by adding their profit. But sourcing agents help you by picking the products from the factory outlet. It ensures you get the products from the factory itself.
Provides inspection services
The main problem in international trade is, you cannot be able to inspect everything by yourself. Many manufacturers offer inspection services from third parties, but those inspectors may not be knowing your requirements, and sometimes the inspectors are not fully qualified. To overcome all these challenges, hiring a China sourcing agent is the ideal solution. They help reduce the loss by inspecting the qualified people, plus their experience them helps you pick the right supplier from the varieties options available in front of you.
Save You Time
Buyers always looking forward to the best products from the sellers. However, picking the best out of the thousands of suppliers is not an easy task. It needs a lot of expertise and also a time consuming one. Every supplier claims themselves as the genuine suppliers and provides quality products. However, it is humanly not possible to verify every supplier from the thousands of available suppliers. So, you need to select a reliable supplier, and they must deliver the products on time. A reliable China sourcing agent able to provide deliver the products on time. The Chinese purchasing agent knows what to do in every step and the right way to do that.
Putting It All Together
If you plan to deal with the supplier directly, the suppliers will take care of only production and shipment. But this is not enough for many international buyers since there are numerous other things to take care of. Hence, a sourcing agent provides all the services a buyer needs in a single platform. The services consist of visiting the market, placing the orders on your behalf, collecting the products, custom clearance, shipment, and many others. These services help the buyers reduce the total cost of the product, and importantly, they help you save time.
Gives product gathering services
If you are a buyer, it becomes challenging to gather the products from various sources and ship them. That means you need to spend more on gathering the products. But the sourcing agents will be having a wide network, and some of them working for multiple buyers at the same time. Hence, they can transport and gather the products at a minimal cost. They can perform multiple tasks such as product gathering, warehousing, shipping, and international freight, helping the buyers immensely. If your requirement is less, sourcing agents ship the products quickly than many container services.

Better connection with suppliers
Since the sourcing agents are from the same locality, they speak the native language and effectively navigate the culture. Hence, they can make the connection with ease, and they bag a good deal for you. Since they have a good connection with the suppliers, they may provide the products at a lesser price.
Give You Greater Flexibility
The China sourcing agent provides greater flexibility in choosing and procuring the product and receiving the products. The sourcing agents’ services can be customized as per your needs, and they charge only for that portion of work. So, you can perform the things you can and leave the harder task to the experts.
Immediately spot scams
The most common thing in international trade is scams. When it comes to choosing the product, you must check the license and certificates of the supplier. Most of these certificates will be in the Chinese language, and you can’t read what is written there. Through their extensive experience in these types of jobs, they can easily tell who is the authentic supplier and gauge whether the product is genuine or not.
Better Pricing
It is common in every country that they usually charge higher if they see the buyer from other countries. But if you go through the sourcing agents, you can save money easily. The experienced professionals procure the products at reasonable prices and sell them to you after changing their commission.
Reduce Overall Expense & risk
The services of a sourcing agent are enormous, and they help you reduce the risk to a greater extent. Since they undertake different jobs, you can get peace of mind since you just need to hire the right sourcing agent, and they take care of all other worries on your behalf. It includes Quality Control/reducing the risk of bad quality of your desired product.
Sourcing – procurement compliance services
Another vital thing is to transact as per the local and international rules and regulations. You can take care of the receiving entity’s compliance part by yourself, but you require an expert sourcing agent to deal with China’s compliance. Since they work in the same profession for years, they help you meet all the compliance standards.

The risks of working with China sourcing agent

Even though the sourcing agents provide many services to the buyer, they are not free from the drawbacks. The below points will explain the risk of working with the sourcing agents.
Since, in most cases, the complete job of finding the supplier to ship to the buyers, the sourcing agent is responsible, they may become too lazy and delay the process. Many sourcing agents work independently, and they lack professionalism, and they are too disorganized.
If they have personal contact with product manufacturers, they usually choose them by ignoring all the competence and other factors. For example, if anyone from their family produces certain products, they will procure that even other suppliers are better.
Every sourcing agent portrays themselves as honest and hardworking, but it is a known fact that they will get a commission of 50 to 10 percent from the factories.
Since they are taking money from the factory, in most of the cases, they defend the factory rather than protecting your interest if something goes wrong.
Some sourcing agent will inspect the product by themselves even they are not qualified to. And if they find out any defect in the product, they won’t tell you.
Import China sourcing agent
Import sourcing agents take care of the importing and other compliance parts associated with that. They are also responsible for checking the product quality, the specified specifications of yours, and many other important business aspects related to import international trade.
What does a sourcing agent do?
Sourcing product
As the name says, a sourcing agent’s primary job is to source a buyer’s product. They verify and choose the right supplier who provides everything a buyer is looking for. They do the briefing and negotiation to get the right products at the right price for a buyer.
Audit factory
Another important service a sourcing agent provides is auditing the factory. By doing this, they verify the trustworthiness and legality of the business entities of the suppliers.
Order follow-up
Once the right supplier is identified, the next step is to follow up with the products’ producer. They will monitor the production process and ensure manufacturing units produces the products on time as per the specifications described before.
Quality control
The sourcing agents also reduce the chances of receiving faulty products with their quality inspections before shipping. The quality check can be conducted at various times by the sourcing agents as per the buyer’s needs.
Arrange shipment & logistics
Once the production is done and the quality check has been done, the next step will be checking the most important shipping process. In this step, souring agents work with the shipping companies and select the one who offers more affordable and quality logistics services quickly.
Other Value-added Services
Apart from the key services mentioned so far, a China sourcing agent also offers other services such as private labeling, customizing the product, customizing the labels, or packaging, and free product photography to upload on the e-commerce sites.

Sourcing agent services process

Certification compliance
The main problem with many domestic small-scale producers is the non-compliance with the local rules. But it is not easy to find out by yourself, and hence sourcing agent’s skills and specializations come into play. They check the supplier’s compliance and ensure everything from manufacturing to shipping happens as per the regulations of the land.
Product specification compliance
The quality of the product depends on the manufacturing process followed by the producer. Before placing the order with a supplier, sourcing agents provide the instructions or convey your instructions to the supplier. And during the manufacturing or product picking, they check whether all the specifications are included as per the prior discussions and agreements.
Pricing is the vital thing that decides the profitability or success of your business. If you can get the products at lower prices, it is easier to service in the market. The China sourcing agent is familiar with these processes, and they can easily strike a good deal for you.
Product sample costs
Before selecting the right supplier, one must go through a lengthy checking of different samples offered by different producers. In most cases, the sourcing agent takes care of all the product sampling costs and concludes.
Production time
once you agree on the product and brief the specifications, the manufacturer makes the delivery on the spot if the products are in stock. Still, if your products need to be designed specially, it takes more time, and during this process, the sourcing agent takes care of all other activities such as process monitoring, quality check, etc.
Quality Management System Procedures
When it comes to marketing, the quality of the products plays a vital role. Hence a sourcing agent or sourcing companies make numerous inspections at different stages of the product life cycle.
Pre-shipment inspection
Before shipping the products, the sourcing agent must check the product’s quality and ensure all the specifications briefed before are met. If any defects or shortcomings they identify, they must stop the shipment. This is the normal routine many sourcing agents do.
Customs clearance
Another important thing to take is customs clearance. This is where many manufacturers fail to provide speedy shipping since the containers fail to clear the customs. But the sourcing agent is experienced in this process, and they make all the necessary arrangements to clear the customs without any delays.
Product sourcing agent agreement
The agreement between the buyer and the souring agents are necessary to make the duties and responsibilities crystal clear. It will help in avoiding conflicts.


The role of a sourcing agent or sourcing company is huge in international trade. However, the selection of the sourcing agent decides the success or failure of your business. Hence, as a buyer, one must be very cautious in selecting the right sourcing agents. If you want one such trading partner, you can choose and become tension-free.

Contact us and Start Saving on Shipping Costs