A sourcing agent assists a company with the process of locating sources for products and supplies at low prices so the company can save money on production. Sourcing agents may represent a single employer or could run a business that serves a number of companies. The work can require knowledge of multiple languages as well as a good business sense and coordination skills. Pay typically occurs on a commission basis, where the sourcing agent makes a percentage of the order's value.
Domestically, a company can use a sourcing agent to get the best prices. Sourcing agents have connections with domestic companies and know where to find various supplies. They can negotiate with a prospective supplier and may be able to work out discounts and other deals that the company does not have time to negotiate on its own. This can save the company money and may also create a longstanding and valuable contract for the supplier, so both sides have an incentive to work with a sourcing agent.
Companies may also have an interest in an overseas sourcing agent. In this case, they rely on the agent to locate companies they can work with overseas. The sourcing agent's job includes assessing the needs of the company, locating suppliers, and meeting them to see if they will be able to take on the orders. She can inspect factories to confirm that they will be able to meet standards. This can also include evaluations to address ethical concerns like worries about pollution or exploitative labor conditions.
The overseas sourcing agent can also deal with issues like import/export duties, tariffs, and taxes. These can be challenging for companies not familiar with the norms in a given nation to handle. The agent's skills can cut down on expenses and also move goods through shipment more quickly, with less risk of a holdup at some point along the supply chain. In regions where corruption can complicate business negotiations, a local sourcing agent familiar with the community and the traditions can cut through red tape quickly and efficiently.
Companies can locate sourcing agents in a number of ways. Some advertise themselves or work for sourcing firms. They may attend trade shows and other events to meet with prospective clients. They often bring samples of the kinds of supplies they can acquire for the benefit of prospective customers. They may also register with trade associations and government offices so company representatives seeking directories of sourcing agents from reliable authorities will get their names first.