When your import from china business grows, you need to find a Chinese buying agent, here is where the problem come from. you don’t know how and where to find a purchasing agent; Should you sign a contract with them, if yes, what clauses to put on the contract? How can you tell if they are trustworthy? Should you use a buying agent or a buying office, which one is better?
Trust is everything
How can you tell if your agent or representative in China is trustworthy? In many cases, first impression can misguide you. You can did some online research to see if there is any comments and observation about him/her. Set some trial tasks with them, see how they act, if he did great for one project, two project, three projects…., then he is great. If he screws things up, find the reason and give him a second chance, you can normally tell a person by working with them for some times.
Contract VS verbal commitment
Some buyers think contract is not important(actually quite some), so they work with suppliers and purchasing agents on verbal commitment, binding by morality and virtue.
Buying offices VS buying agents
Buying offices normally have experience in more industries while buying agents often specialize in certain area such as apparel, electronics. So if your sourcing projects covers many industries, then it might be better to use sourcing offices. If you deal with one product, you could work with individual agents. Also if your project is relatively big, it might be better to use sourcing office as you will need many sourcing experts to work on your project at the same time.
Buying offices are normally legally incorporated companies, so if they breach the contract, you will have somewhere and someone to chase after. Sourcing agent is often one man show, if bad things happen, they might disappear. So relatively, buying offices are more reliable than agents.
Agents might offer low rate, compared with buying office. So for small buyers, if you are able to find a reliable agent, then agent might be a better choice.