Please also have a look at these posts: Why do You Need a Purchasing Agent and How to Find a ONE in China:
Any qualified purchasing or sourcing agent in China must feature as following:
1. Good morality and Reliability
There is a Chinese saying goes as 'All the business shall be built based on reliability and credit.’So the good agent will take‘credit, reliability and reputation’as their life, they should never cheat their clients during any formal business. How to check the credit of your‘agent’service? Ask them for references at your end and fully check them out before formal cooperation.
As a sourcing or purchasing agent, they should behave well and protect foreign buyers' interests in China at all times. He should never 'sell' his buyers to scammers in China, and never eat his own words, never cheat buyers as well as sellers. As far as I know, some purchasing agents even ask for kickbacks (commission) from both sides (the seller and buyer). This is terrible for a good purchasing agent service in China but those agents are mostly individuals as every formal service company has strict regulations on such cases in China, this is another important reason that you'd better work with a service company instead of an individual in China.
2. High-quality Service
High-quality service features as: Smooth Communication, Efficient Work, Fast Feedback etc. Some service companies require instant communication with their clients and some require 12-hour-feedback, which means all the inquiries shall be replied within 12 hours.
Good command of English or other foreign languages, both in written and verbal forms are also required. Language is very important in communication among businessmen worldwide. However, there are not so many people speaking fluent English or other foreign languages in China, esp for some individual purchasing agents.
3. Rich import and export experience
Rich experience in this field can result in a fast solution for some problem in your business in China: sourcing, quality control, shipping, customs clearance, documentation, insurance etc. Any qualified purchasing agent should also have good relationship with local government authorities and have rich knowledge on China's policies in import and export business; All the latest regulations or laws regarding export and import in China should be kept in mind.
4. Rich experience in sourcing and purchasing the target product.
As a purchasing agent he should be very familiar the target product in this field, say, how to source and purchase the target item as soon as possible?
Where is the best place for this product?
How many well-known trade fairs are linked with this product?
How can I obtain the most favourable prices? Etc
Where are the manufacturing bases for this product?
Actually each city or province in China has their own pillar industry, so you can check the market information first before sourcing suppiers or purchasing agents. For example, Liuyang is called ‘Home of Fireworks', there are more than 400000 peole directly or indirectly engaging in fireworks production or sales in China, ‘Liuyang-made’fireworks account for 70% of China market and more than 40% of global market at present. So when you're sourcing fireworks, you can simply come to Liuyang and work with some local purchasing agents there when necessary.
You can raise as many questions as possible to check your agent whether they have enough experience in this field or not before formal cooperation.
5. Be familiar with your product or industry.
Try to work with a professional agent. You have to forget them if they know nothing about the product specifications, technical descriptions or industry associations etc. For instance, if you're buying ductile iron castings, you'd better find a service company with rich experience in this field because there are so many terminology in this field. Of course there are some terminology in any other field, the same word may carry different meanings in different fields.
6. Have a good knowledge of international laws and regulations related.
As a purchasing agent, he has to learn much about some international practice, including the quota issue, certificates issue, anti-dumping issue and tax issue etc. For instance, if you sell beef to Musilin countries, your products have to been certified with a special label and ratified from your target country.
Please also have a look at this post: What is a Professional Sourcing and Why?
So when you choose a purchasing agent in China, you'd better ask more questions and be careful as well! As a professional sourcing, purchasing, business services office located in China, STIN (www.chinabizservices.com or www.bizinchina.cc) warmly welcome any reliable foreign buyer to visit and have business.Our mission is to save you more and reduce the risks in your business in China!