Choosing a sourcing agent is a tough task and is massively dependent on the size of your company, what type of products you want to source and whether you are sourcing “off the shelf” products or custom products.
Generally if you want to source simple “off the shelf” products (design/tooling has already been created) that don’t require any changes in packaging etc then you can probably do this work yourself or you can find a cheap local Chinese Agent to help you source.
When customization of the product or packaging is required, then you want to work with a more established company or sourcing agency that has experience looking at your needs and working to balance cost vs. quality of the product. This is an important thing to think about because we constantly see people writing ads for sourcing agents “to get the best deal” for them when sourcing a product. This type of request is quite misguided as any good sourcing agent can find cheap versions of a product and higher priced ones. Manufacturing a product has fixed inputs and one output (the final product). Inputs are raw materials, machine overhead, building/company overhead, electricity etc. You can change the price of the product simply by using very high quality raw materials or low quality material, or having very stringent quality checks versus non stringent quality checks. All of the changes in your variable inputs raises or lowers the cost of your output (the final product). The Chinese have a saying, “一分钱一分货” which literally means one unit of money one unit of product, you pay for what you get. The “best deal” is really the best balance of quality vs cost that meets the end customers needs and doesn’t create customer service headaches. Good quality sourcing agents should be able to recognize the customers market and target customer and help this client find the correct balance between cost and quality. Therefore when customizing products it is recommended to find higher quality sourcing agents with experience. These agents usually cost more but are worth their weight in gold in the long run. Less product sourcing problems and more time for the business owner to focus on sales and growing their revenue is almost always a better ROI with a higher quality sourcing agent. Therefore in our opinion any small to medium sized company with the resources should always pay more for a higher quality china sourcing agency. It always works out to be the “best deal” in the end.