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How to Hire a Sourcing Agent? Our 5 C Strategy to evaluate a Sourcing Partner

Is a sourcing agent critical or important for a company wanting to source products for their retail , E-commerce, wholesale business etc. ?

In our opinion it is vital, especially if you are looking to source from developing markets.

Global business and brands often want to source directly from the factories and eliminate the middle men. With the digital age of communication and internet, buyer can search for factories and vendors from across the global.

There are multiple specialized sourcing website such as Alibaba, Indiamart, global sources etc. which have a huge data base of local factories and vendors.

The practice is often right if you think you will never face production delays, quality problems, pricing issues, communication gaps, logistics upcharges, packaging issues etc.

Businesses today are running on thin margins and it is becoming imperative for them to manage their lead times, inventories , stock outs , vendor base and the entire supply chain much much more efficiently.

Often buyers are not able to keep a close watch on it because of multiple limitations.

A good sourcing agent is critical in developing and managing your supply chain and factories/vendor base.

It is even more critical in developing countries because of the challenges faced locally.

The cost paid to hire a professional sourcing agent is negligible in the long run. If sourcing quality product at a fair price is critical for your business you need to either spend a lot of time and energy in understand the local market, processes and factories or hire an expert / professional.

It is hard for a buyer to develop confidence and trust on any agent by talking on few call or emails. But there are some tips / trick /hacks you can use to evaluate the agents:

We have developed a 5C approach to evaluate your sourcing agent and partner:

1. Communication:

Is he/She/they an agent or a partner- You are looking for a long-term relationship. If you can’t communicate effectively you will never be able to establish trust and develop a relationship

2. Commitment:

are they willing to do the extra bit to ensure your success. Will they try hard enough?

3. Cost:

Since this is relative to each, you should understand the scope of work and assess on how much would it cost you to do it yourself or within your company VS outsourcing it to a professional. Always remember there will be a learning curve for you.

4. Competence:

What level of experience do they have? Can they manage local vendors? Do they have the negotiation power to resolve your conflicts with factories it they ever arise?

5. Credibility:

Be mindful of the fact that there is not always a perfect world and challenges will come on the way , but be wary of people who over promise and under deliver.

Competence you should look for in your Sourcing Partner and Agent:

1. Communication Skills

2. Quality of Team and Management

3. Experience and local Knowledge

4. Quality Assurance

5. Conflict Resolution

6. Compliance and Audit

It is always good to have an on the ground partner such as Small World India. If the costs are affordable it is an investment in your business to create an asset which in the long run may be your competitive advantage over others.

Small World has been helping global business and brands source from India for the past 25 year. We have a competent and committed team to ensure success for all our partners. Our values have been been demonstrated by the growth we along with the partners have had in the past years and how our entire eco system grew stronger in one of the most challenging years of business globally during the pandemic Covid-19 outbreak.

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