I am looking for an agency in China to help with a purchasing project. Can anyone recommend the right approach?
I spent 400 pages of an upcoming book due out in April/May entitled “China Sourcing Guide” to answer that very question. Some “Tips for Selecting a 3rd Party Service Provider” are as follows:
Are they a legitimate company with proper business licensing?
Do they have a clear track record of performance? If they can’t give you some client references, run away. That is a very big red flag.
Are they focused on a certain set of services or do they try to everything for everybody? Yes, even the 3rd party service providers have been known to outsource to others just like some factories outsource production without telling the buyer.
Is their pricing structure and service agreement well defined and transparent?
It is a major pitfall to do business with a 3rd Party service provider without a clear contract in place that outlines the service, costs, time frame and other desired attributes of the partnership.
I would like to add that you need to be very concerned about the “double dip.” it is not uncommon for agents in China to charge the client a commission only to also have a hidden payment from the supplier behind the scenes. The result is that the agent works for the supplier when you think they are working for you.
I’m sure your request for help finding an agent will bring you a ton of solicitations, but for your reference, know that the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center (where I volunteer) posts for the public a list of reputable endorsed service providers.
You may also enjoy the CSIC’s free monthly e-mag on sourcing and check out their videos about finding and managing vendor/agents in China. Perhaps the best thing you can do to get up to speed on your options is to attend a conference like the ones found here-