Have been in Yiwu exporting business since 2009 , I'm pretty sure this How To Find A Good Yiwu Agent article can help buyers make good decisions to appoint a right agent for their business, right from the beginning.
A serious and trustworthy agent can always stay after the following filtration:
===CHECKING THEIR WEBSITES===
Nowadays almost each agent has their own website. Some agents even have a lot. A website is a good way to understand the people behind website. In fact, that is the only way for you to get information before contacting anyone.
You should be careful with:
#1 Talking-rubbish Agents
These agents normally saying on their sites that they're the "Top 1", or "Top 3", "No.1", "Best..." "Most..." "Official" Yiwu agent.
Let me show you 2 extreme cases:
One agent only keep average 1.5 staff since 2009 claiming on their sites they're the "TOP 3" Yiwu agent.
Another agent claiming they're the "Official Yiwu Market Agent" has absolutely nothing to do with the official company who runs Yiwu market.
Yiwu market is built by local government and run by CCC Group. Only CCC group can say they're official to run Yiwu market. The rest of Yiwu agents have NOTHING to do with "Yiwu market official site"
When these Yiwu agents are trying to catch eyeballs by talking rubbish everywhere, they lose their trustworthy at the same time.
#2 Promising-miracles Agents
A lot agents saying they only charge a 1% commission, or they offer FREE service, free cars, free everything. Or they cleverly saying charge "low to 1% commission". (very misleading.)
This too bad for the entire export agent business in Yiwu. I mentioned this earlier on Yiwu agent commission rate. 1% is just too good to be true. Even the biggest agents is charging 3% with lots of "but" and "if".
When come to service, PEOPLE matters. These companies who offer better opportunities and salaries usually have better and more experienced staff. The fact is that all your work will be done by staff. Not the general manager or boss.
If a company can't have reasonable profit, they can't offer descent salary, then they can't keep good staff. Quick change of staff is a disaster to service agents business.
The companies who keep a best experienced and professional staff resource, for the longest, can be THE BEST AGENT in Yiwu.
#3 Don't-have-rules Agents
A lot Yiwu agents don't have a clear and straight forward way with their service and charges, but just want you to contact them or chat with them.
This is a waste of everyone's time. Of course, if you waste some time with one guy, you won't have the same time for another guy. You just have 24 hours a day.
Usually, these people who can state all their service and terms at the beginning clearly, have a better "awareness-of-rules" than those who don't say anything but just want you to discuss with them.
Believe it or not, lots of agents in Yiwu just don't have any rules, both as a company and as an individual staff.
Company add extra costs to customers, staff earn kick-backs from suppliers. Of course, it's the customer who will pay all the bills in the end...
#4 Taking-Shortcuts Agents
If a website respect their visitors enough, they should be very careful about what they're saying on the web pages. Provide the visitors indeed USEFUL and FRESH information, as much as possible, in a responsible way.
If you come across a website that just put on lots of "junks", copy and past other people's work on their own site, or just change a bit here and there. You already have an idea for what kind of person are there behind.
Are you ready for putting your business in such "take short-cuts and get-rich-fast" agents? I guess not!
Having above info in mind, you can properly filtered out lots of noises, and now it's time to select a few and talk:
===CONTACTING A FEW OF THEM===
#1 How are they responding?
Here, of course, you will have different ways to find out if someone is right for you. Are they honestly telling about what they can do? Are they able to communicate well via emails? Are they doing what they're saying? ...
#2 Ask for reference from their site
Some companies now put reference on their site publicly. This is good to see what other customers said about them. But you need to see if these reviews are REAL.
You can just ask them to offer contact information about their customers who wrote them the review, then go and find out.
I bet you have more ways here, so let skip to the next step.
===VISIT THEM AND WALK WITH THEM===
By above 2 steps of checking their sites and talking to them. Now comes to the big step: visit them to find out.
Here is my advise: always select 2 or 3 potential agents, NOT ONLY ONE! Meet them and talk to them. Walk with them for one day in the market. Then point out your finger for the winner.
From meeting them and walking with them, you will have a clear picture of are they doing what they were saying on their website and what they told you previously in emails.
Walking in the market for one day (only for browsing market purpose), you will find out who seems like care you more and who is putting more extra cost on you.
===LET THEM SHOW THEMSELVES===
You need to to find out WHO is this guy? Which company you're dealing with?
Let them show their ID.
Check their Chinese name on the name card. Not only the English name. You can find million of Jack, or Julie, or Lisa, or Mike...
These are not their real names. If a Jack run away with your money. You call China policeman:
-"Jack in Yiwu run away with my money"
-"Sorry, but we don't know any Jack. Our system only has Chinese names"
- "... ..."
Check their business license, tax registration, company ID and make copies, to make sure they're legally registered in Yiwu/Zhejiang/China. NOT in HK, or somewhere a small island. China police won't travel that far for your 200,000USD criminal report.FOR SURE.
After going through above steps, i'm sure you're very close to a trustworthy, serious, and reliable agent. Hurray~
TRUST is No.1, EXPERIENCE and EXPERTISE will be No.2.
Many agents claiming they can source thousands different products for you from Yiwu. This is true. But can they do a good job with thousands different products? Here is a big question mark.
An agent who is exporting a lot of plastic containers means nothing when they need to QC jewelry for "nickel free". An agent ships hundreds of containers to US doesn't means they know well enough customs requirements of Croatia or Fiji.
You'd better find an agent that is specialized in your products, or at least is familiar with your type of products. These people will be more confident with QC in the end. They can also talk to suppliers before placing orders. They learnt from mistakes.
Also because they're more experienced with a certain type of products, that means they are more familiar with the suppliers. They probably know which supplier can deliver what they promise and which supplier may only deliver air in the end.
TRUST No.1, EXPERIENCE and EXPERTISE No.2, FACILITY comes at No.3. No one can do miracles.
For an agent in Yiwu, the two most important facilities are office and warehouse.
In Yiwu, a good office is an office that close to market. Almost every day,agents staff need to go to market. A close location to the market means the staff won't need to take a bus or get stuck in traffic jam. This makes their life easier. They can also be more efficient with your work.
Warehouse must be spacious.
Considering the fact that sometimes products need to be repacked or checked throughly. This job will be impossible if there is not enough space.
Also a good warehouse should be easy for container loading. If fragile items are carried up to container door each time. There is risk that these fragile cartons can fall off.
Of course, this can be found out easily when you're in Yiwu. You can drop by their office in the morning for 10 minutes and go to their warehouse in the after for another 10 minutes after market visit.
IN ONE WORD, get someone RELIABLE to take care of your business.
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May.01: Labor holiday; Market opens, stores 80% close/half-close. Visiting not suggested.