Sourcing your materials from China is one of those risks that is guaranteed to pay off if you choose the best sourcing agent. Large companies such as Apple continue to source not only their parts and materials from China—they even manufacture their products there. Many companies have been doing this ever since, and an ever-increasing number are jumping the bandwagon and moving their manufacturing overseas. While many have succeeded, some have failed. The difference is in the sourcing agents they have hired.
In order not to repeat the same mistakes, you should do your research—and do it well. Failure to do a thorough background check on a prospective sourcing agent is a disaster waiting to happen. The internet is your best friend when gathering information about your potential agents. Check their website for information about the company, years in experience, expertise, accolades, and services they offer. Take note of their affiliations with institutions such as the American Chamber of Commerce in China or the China-Britain Business Council.
See if they have a portfolio of past clients and search for reviews and testimonials. One or two bad reviews could be chalked up to bad luck, a few may still be remedied or improved, but more than a handful of negative feedback means they are not worth your time and money. If they have clients from all over the world, then it means they are aware of international standards and regulations. Clients particularly from America and Europe have exceptionally high standards that are not easy to match, but if your agent has been there and done that, then they could be the right fit for you.
Researching on their past clients not only gives you an idea on the quality of their work, but also on their capabilities. Sourcing agents typically work either on a large-scale or small-scale; it is not often that you find a reliable sourcing company that can provide their services for any size and level. If they have catered to both large and startup companies, then it means they are flexible. Be sure to choose an agent that knows your industry and has worked with similar clients before.