When most dropshippers start out, they usually want to go it alone and use their own means to find suppliers to back up their store. However, as some grow and get big they turn to agents to take some of the legwork out of this process for them. If you are a solopreneur, for example, it might allow you to turn your attention to other areas of your business.
This article will provide everything you need to know about dropshipping agents from China. By the end of this tutorial, you should know how to find a good agent in China for dropshipping. Also, we’re going to throw some do’s and dont’s when choosing an agent. We are focusing on China as they are the most popular place for dropshipping suppliers right now.
What is a dropshipping agent?
But what is an agent? There are two main types of agents dropshippers could use. One is associated with a company and the other acts like a freelancer.
The Company Based Agent
Some companies in China will employ an agent to deal with any overseas inquiries for business from outside of China. This is usually because they are not confident to deal with clients in any language outside of their native one.
When you want to order from such companies, you will deal with their designated agent. If you have any issues with your order, this is also who you will talk to. You may not even realise you are dealing with an agent nominated by the supplier 🙂
Benefits of a Company Based Agent
These agents can save you a lot of headaches when it comes to communication with a Chinese company. It can be hard to negotiate a good or even accurate dropshipping arrangement if the supplier can barely understand English. With an agent, you will be able to discuss complex business issues with more ease.
What to Watch Out For?
When you see a company appointing an agent specifically to deal with foreign customers, you may not be giving you the best deal. As they are expecting foreign business, their pricing structure might be higher than when dealing with someone they perceive as local.
The Freelance Agent
This type of agent is an independent person or company whose sole purpose is to help you hunt out the best dropshipping deals in China. They are not associated with any suppliers directly, but can help you find and negotiate with numerous suppliers as a local.
Benefits of a Freelance Agent
You are really able to access Chinese suppliers as a local. Sometimes, when suppliers know they are dealing with a foreigner, they may see $$$ signs and think of charging more. This is much less likely to happen if they think they are working with someone from China. Trust me, I used to live in China. And when I went to markets, I would have to haggle for a long time after they saw my white face 🙂
Having a good freelance agent will take a lot of the legwork out of your supplier sourcing, and a good agent will use their widespread knowledge of the Chinese market to get you the best deals!! They might also be able to find you unique deals only known by those with their ear to the ground of the local supplier scene 🙂
What to Watch Out For?
Sometimes an agent might appear to be a freelance one, but is actually in partnerships with specific suppliers. They may give the impression they are searching for the best supplier, but in reality they may only be recommending the suppliers they have agreements with. This will often not get you the best deal.
What are Things That Both Do?
A big benefit of using an agent is that if you find a good one they can scale your business with you much more easily that if you did it yourself. Simply put, they have contacts in the industry to make it happen.
Both company based and freelance agents can also be great ways you can access white label of custom products that you want to dropship. Both can also get you better deals on better and faster shipping. Freelance agencies sometimes have their own warehouses to achieve this very thing.
Quality control can also be a key reason why you might want to choose an agent. If you are based outside of China, it is hard for you to do this yourself!
Agents can also have fulfillment centers in foreign countries such as America, allowing you to get much faster shipping times. There are big agencies that do this as their main business.
Steps to take in finding a dropshipping agent
When a dropshipper whats to hand off sourcing of suppliers to agents, they often want to find a freelance one. But how do you find a good one? As with a lot of things in the dropshipping world, research is key.
The key to finding a good agent is to:
1. Perform extensive research
Don’t just do a quick search and go with the first agent you find. Do some research first. These are some of the ways I would do this:
- Go to dropshipping specific forums or Facebook groups and find out from experienced users what agents they would recommend. Search the history of these users to make sure they are longstanding and reliable members of the community. If you are considering using an agent, post in these forums and groups to find out if anyone else has had experiences with them.
- Use websites such as GlobalTrade.net and LinkedIn to find suppliers that are highly recommended by others.
2. Get in touch and establish relationships
You need to build a relationship with prospective agents. You have to engage with them and ask what kind of services they can offer to you as a dropshipper. The answers they give to these initial inquiries will give you an indication to their quality.
If possible, you have to prepare a lot of questions—questions that anticipate your potential problems later on.
You can ask questions about:
- Shipping timelines and policies
- Shipping costs
- Policies about returns and refunds
- Minimum order requirement, if applicable
- Exact methods they use to perform quality control
- Their fee and the exact extend of the service they can offer you
The agent you choose must be knowledgeable about these policies. Next thing you can do is to test the service.. If the agent does not entertain your questions or problems, walk away—you do not want to work with an agent if his priority is not customer satisfaction. also, if they don’t seem to offer you any kind of deal over what is publicly, walk away. Then they are of no use to you!
3. Select a niche with decent competition
Yes, part of agent selection is the niche itself. If you choose a highly competitive niche, do not expect to find a lot of agents who would find the time to take care of your needs.
There are so many of you selling the same item. Losing you as a customer is not going to hurt their business.
Instead, what you have to do is to select a niche that is not over-saturated. Decent competition, but not over-saturated.
This way, you can find agents in China for your dropshipping business who are interested in growing with you.
4. Do a Test Order
When you think you have found an agent you like, don’t go ‘all in’ on your first order. The final piece of the puzzle is to do a smaller test order to see how the agent performs. Did they follow the process as they explained they would during negotiations? Were the products as described and well packaged and shipped in good time? These are all things you can only fully know after a test order. If this order goes well, slowly start to scale up these orders to see how the agent can handle the increase in demand from your side.
Benefits of having multiple dropshipping agents
Do not limit yourself to dealing with only one agent. You have to deal with several suppliers. If a supplier changes its policies or pricing, you will not be left high and dry—depending on only one supplier for your business.
Here are the benefits of dealing with several Chinese dropshipping agents:
Knowledge on Fees
When you have knowledge of a wider variety of agents, you will quickly be able to spot when one is trying to overcharge you or do anything outside the norm.
When you find agents dropshipping for your company, you have to think about the products the agents sell. One of the main advantages of going for several dropshipping agents for your company is that they are likely to be able to provide you with a wider range of products for your shop.
It’ll be easier for you to find the products you want if you have several agents. If you use only one, his knowledge about your niche may be limited, and your business is going to suffer.
More business connections
Since you are not from China, you need someone out there who knows people. A Chinese dropshipping agent can refer you to other suppliers in the country.
Also, as an aspiring dropshipper, it is so important to have relations with your agents. After all, you won’t have goods to ship to your customers without them.
That means having a positive, healthy relationship with your agents is in your best interests. With good agents, you will find it easier to find new suppliers by the time you are ready to grow your business.
You have the potential to start and grow numerous business relationships if you deal with several dropshipping agents. They know the manufacturing landscape, and you have to use that knowledge as business leverage.
There you have it, my tips on how to find a good agent in China for dropshipping. If your business is at a point where you feel you need help to scale, an agent can be a perfect way to do this.
Deal with several agents you can trust, and then build a good relationship with them. With this relationship, they are more likely to also help you take care of your business—they may give you priority in processing orders, and this is good or you and your customers.