Not all companies decide to hire the services of a purchasing agent for their first import experience. In fact, there are companies that have been importing products for years through their internal purchasing department and have managed to import successfully. However, they are sometimes faced with a different type of import than usual, for example, with products that are difficult to import, and they then require the help of a specialized professional.
Despite this, it is not that common. After more than 15 years experience, here at S3 Group we most frequently see the case of companies that have tried international purchasing on their own and, unfortunately, the process has not gone as expected. The causes for this failure are diverse. However, it is important to remember that a bad import experience should not negatively influence the wish to purchase internationally, since its advantages are remarkable.
Faced with these two situations (both very different), many people may be somewhat confused about when they should use a specialized purchasing agent. Let’s consider some of the key points that will guide you to decide if your company needs a sourcing partner to help with the import process.
Lack of experience.
Common in all walks of life including importation. Experience is a key point for importing, especially in Asian countries, where many factors must be taken into account. The role of a purchasing agent is a great help If your company does not have personnel with sufficient previous experience in purchasing products from China. Knowing and having previously worked with a certain supplier is an important factor for a successful import. Therefore, if your company is facing a change of supplier (even if it isn’t your first import experience), a purchasing consultant will help you complete your search and filter the factories where you are guaranteed to find your products.
Search of suppliers
Knowing and having previously worked with a certain supplier is an important factor for a successful import. Therefore, if your company is facing a change of supplier (even if it isn’t your first import experience), a purchasing consultant will help you complete your search and filter the factories where you are guaranteed to find your products.
Lack of knowledge of quality standards.
The differences in terms of standards between any European country and China are remarkable. But knowing this is simply not enough. If you are not crystal clear about the requirements that your product must meet in order to be manufactured, transported and then marketed in your country successfully then, do not hesitate to hire a purchasing agent whose experience in this field will save you trouble, problems and unnecessary expense.
There are many companies that fall into the trap of thinking that a perfect command of English, a universal language, will ensure they don’t experience communication problems in their negotiations with China. Big mistake! We must also take into account certain Asian cultural factors as well as the accepted forms of negotiation in China alongside the importance of communicating in the native language of our suppliers.
Although closely related to language, cultural factors are key and can directly influence the success or failure of an import. Aspects such as courtesy, punctuality or protocol in general, are fundamental in Chinese culture, and must be taken into account in any business process. It is far better to leave that responsibility to an expert in the field.
The transport of goods bought in China is a sensitive issue, especially when you have no experience with this. It is a long journey, with frequent setbacks that only an expert in importation knows how to fix. Waiting times –which can leave us without stock- as well as the various complications that may arise at customs –depending on the type of product being imported- are more than enough reasons for enlisting the help of a specialized purchasing agent.
As we have seen, there are several factors that must be taken into account when purchasing products in China for our company. Having a good sourcing strategy is the key to importing successfully.
A purchasing consultant gives us the peace of mind of being able to rely on a collaborator who reviews and watches over the entire import process. There is equally the possibility of hiring their services to take charge of certain import processes only.
The advantages of relying on a professional purchasing agent are clearly noticeable and ensure a successful import experience whilst becoming a key aspect of the cost saving strategy.