What Is A Sourcing Agent? Do You Need A Sourcing Agent?

Today we received an email from one of our customers:

He didn’t want to tell me the address of the factory because he is a sourcing agent and not the actual manufacturer. Anyways, hopefully, everything will be ok.

What is a Sourcing Agent?

A good sourcing agent offers some advantages to your company. They help in streamlining activities, maintaining low costs, and planning on product delivery within the shortest time possible.

When looking for an agent, you need to know what you are looking for and be sure that you can benefit from their work. Before hiring one, understand how they work so that you get maximum benefits.

Sourcing Agent Definition

A sourcing agent is a person or agency that represents a company (buyer) to source and buy products in developed countries far from the buyer. Sourcing agent plays a crucial role when importing overseas.

Traditionally, the work of a sourcing agent is to look for supplies for the buyer. However, the services of the sourcing agent can entail other services depending on the agreement with the client. Some of their other services include sourcing the right supplies, bargaining prices, following up production, verifying the quality, shipping, and more.

A sourcing agent may be good at what they do. However, when it comes to quality control, they may miss it by a considerable margin. Hire an independent person to help overcome such problems. Since their task will only be inspection, they will work according to international standards.

Quality Control and a Sourcing Agent

A person who looks at the quality of your product should be objective and neutral. When your sourcing agent visits the production center, he may as well be talking to another business partner. Compare that reaction with an independent inspector whose task is to put the company to task.

The inspector knows when to be thorough professionally. They always have your interest in mind, and their work is to ensure you get a full report, issue, or no issue. Trusting your sourcing agent with quality control is not advisable.

Quality Inspector and Objectivity

Sourcing agents will claim to do quality checks but looking at their field experience. They lack the knowledge to carry out quality standards objectively. For an honest agent to carry out inspections and quality checks, you need to invest in them.

You also need to note that they may be working for different manufacturers, thus affecting the quality of the inspection. Besides, their output may not be consistent due to swearing allegiance to different bosses.

Consistency is at risk of compromise because quality control may not be their only source of income. When the agents get on a busy schedule, they are likely to look the other way and move to the next task.

Take charge of quality in your shipment and follow through every single delivery, or else you will start receiving customer complaints. Do not assume that if the first shipment were exceptional, the next one would follow suit.

Inspection agencies or companies are professionals, and you can be guaranteed that they will follow the universal approach available for confirming product quality.

Can a Sourcing Agent Follow Inspection Procedure?

Individual industries have set standards that assure clients of the quality they get from a given supplier. There is a level acceptable in quality control, and your products should be above such a limit to enter the production chain.

The quality limit gives an estimation as to how many units can pass through inspection in every shipment. There is a possibility of your agent walking in and inspecting random boxes and steps out. ( Learn more about AQL Standard)

The agency working to inspect your goods must follow the standards to avoid the risk of passing sub-standard products. Other than just knowing the number that can pass in a day, they need to define what looks good.

The definition of whether a defect is minor or significant should constitute an entire inspection methodology. A quality control expert will help in defining arising issues and classify them for relevant action.

Inspection agencies are independent, which means they won’t favor the seller with the aim of some future benefits. They have your interests at heart and will do their task of protecting your business from any risks due to inferior quality products.

Sourcing from External Markets

For large orders, you may have to pay a one-time fee to a third party to help you in:

  • Identifying and screening suppliers
  • Managing a supplier chain

An alternative would be to do a direct purchase using a team and only involve an extra hand if you need special services like freight forwarding, inspections, and quality checks.

For small orders, get your goods from a trader who has found and paid a manufacturer. This approach is fast, and you may even gain on the margins the trader earns.

The other route would be to identify a commissioned agency to introduce you to a supplier and will accept payment when a purchase takes place.

Other approaches to External Sourcing:

  1. Direct Purchases

Importers take this route because they control the entire process. They do not interact with intermediaries, nor do they pay commission.

  1. Commissioning an Agent

Use a network with the best and valid sourcing agents from the country of interest. The advantage is that you can use them as your representative in that country. Commissioning agents get a form of commission and are ready to defend the company if anything goes wrong.

  1. Identify a Trading Company

Use a trading company if the quantity of your imports does not meet the minimum standards. It is risky working with intermediaries at this point.

  1. Work with Service Agents

Some sourcing agents will offer their services at a fee. They work transparently. Their operations work in the same way a procurement office works.

What is a Pre-Shipment Inspection?Pre-shipment inspection is the inspection of products before they are shipped. It is done by a sourcing agent or an inspector to ensure that goods are in the right condition before shipping begins.

Here are some essential checks:

  • Labeling follows company standards
  • Packaging protects the product against breakage or leakage
  • Quantity of every shipment should be equal in the entire freight

Check more about PSI Inspection Service


Using a sourcing agent when importing goods far away is a great idea because they help you cut costs. They play an important role in helping you find a good producer. But when it comes to quality control, you should consider a third party inspection agency (Check with AQI Service)for the best results.

They help you to avoid quality issues that can arise when you rely on a sourcing agent to conduct a quality check. Third-party inspectors prove to be reliable in quality control. They send representatives to handle the pre-shipment inspections before production is complete. They confirm that all the products meet the company standards when it comes to packaging, quantity, and labeling. Being professionals they are, you can be sure to get quality products, avoids risks and extra costs. (Check more about the Inspection Costs)

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