What is a product sourcing agent?

A product sourcing agent, or sourcing supplier, has vast experience working in product sourcing. In most instances, these professionals have worked with trading companies and have a list of reliable suppliers with whom they source products.  

The product sourcing agent can help you with various tasks, for example,
  • Find reliable suppliers
  • negotiate prices on your behalf
  • oversee production processes
  • sign off on any required documentation
  • undertake quality control procedures of your product
  • ensure that you receive your products at the agreed shipping time

Product sourcing agents are great to use if you work with factories outside your country, such as China, India, or Taiwan.   

How to Select a Product Sourcing Agent?

Identifying a great product sourcing agent takes time and research. Perhaps, the first one won’t  be with you forever but will give you a great deal of experience to find another closer to your needs. Thus, the most important characteristics you should look for are the following:

  • Licensing: all product sourcing agents must have a business license. No matter the country, if they are professionals, they must have one. Having a business license means they have legal jurisdiction to do their work. Also, the business license gives you some protection to find them and take legal actions, even though having other levels of protection are even better, like a lawyer or local bank.  
  • Experience: A sourcing agent with extensive experience will have a large network of reliable contacts vital to your business. 
  • Check for references: the sourcing agent should give you authentic references from other businesses. 
Take your time to verify the references and their websites. 
Ask them about the sourcing agent’s quality regarding finding products and their service if you have the opportunity.
  • Verify their knowledge regarding legal documentation: the sourcing agent should have vast knowledge on all legal documents needed for product sourcing and shipping like Certificate of Origin, Bill of Landing, Fumigation Certificate, and detailed packing list.  
  • Verify how they deal with quality issues: quality of the product is of utmost importance if you are sourcing products from foreign countries. Make sure the measures or strategies the agent has in place to deal with poor quality or any quality issues. Request the best quality and don’t accept products of sub-standard quality.  
  • Language proficiency: the best sourcing agent should be able to communicate in multiple languages, being yours one of them. Also, they should have good skills and proficiency in writing the languages.  
  • Experience in the product you are sourcing: all sourcing agents don’t have the same expertise in all products. They have different areas of expertise depending on the category and product. Verify for experience in sourcing for your product through previous orders.  
  • Good ethics: select a sourcing agent with good ethics. Don’t choose a sourcing agent that works for a factory or receives kickbacks from suppliers.  

Which Sourcing Agent Company would you like to work with?

In most countries sourcing agents can be qualified in three main categories
  1. Single sourcing agents: they work on their own. The advantage is that they work with little or just one client at a time, and it is easier to create a relationship with you and your business. 

The con is the lack of verifiable experience, lack of licensing, limited connections. All these can present a risk for your company.  

  1. Sourcing agencies: several agents work with these agencies. The advantage is that you can find someone with the expertise you are looking for. Also, their network and resources are more extensive. The downside is that their price is higher.  
  2. Sourcing and logistic companies: These are larger companies with a department for sourcing. They offer all the services from products, fumigation (if needed), packaging, shipping, and logistics. The good thing about this service is that you find it all done by one company, the downside is the price. These types of companies are pricier than all previous ones.  

Tip: sometimes we focus on the total price, but if you realize, looking for each service in a foreign country sometimes is time-consuming and more expensive, so before you discard this type of company, check how much you are really saving.  

Benefits of working with a Sourcing agent:

  1. Time saver: in most cases, vendors have minimal time to source for products, an agent with short the time by taking you exactly where you need to go. 
  2. Is the link between manufacturers and you: if you are sourcing products from a foreign country, you may need an interpreter to translate for you. Also, your sourcing agent can help you put down the exact details for your product.  
  3. Help you find a manufacturer with the credentials you requested: using a local agent can help you find the manufacturer with the certificates or approval you need for your product.  
  4. You have a better chance of finding multiple suppliers: an experienced agent can help you find numerous suppliers faster than you do yourself.  


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