Dropshipping is a great business model, but it does have many annoying and difficult aspects to deal with. That’s where a dropshipping agent is not only helpful but often necessary. They can help manage the entire logistical side of your business which is often the most difficult part as it’s completely out of your hands.
Often a dropshipping agent is also known as a sourcing agent, a shipping agent or a fulfillment agent.
This article will run you through whether you need an agent, how to find an agent and what you should be looking for in an agent. You should know everything you need to know about Chinese dropshipping agents by the end of this article.
The beauty of dropshipping is you can sit at home on your laptop, have people in China manufacturer products and ship them to customers all over the world for you. The problem is, that’s a lot of trust to put in people you have never met.
You’re trusting that you’re not being ripped off by the price, product quality, shipping times, processing times, shipping location, packaging, scalability and more.
If you could deal with an honest and reliable person who could manage it all for you, it would be invaluable to your business.
- 1 What is a Dropshipping Agent?
- 2 What Do Dropshipping Agents Do?
- 3 Do you Need a Dropshipping Agent?
- 4 How Do You Find a Chinese Dropshipping Agent?
- 5 What Makes a Good Dropshipping Agent?
- 5.1 They need to work directly with manufacturers
- 5.2 App Integration
- 5.3 Scaling your Business
- 5.4 Returns and Refunds
- 5.5 They Want You to Succeed
- 5.6 Where in China is Your Agent?
- 5.7 Are They Experienced?
- 5.8 Communication Skills
- 5.9 Access to the Best Shipping Options
- 5.10 Private Labeling
- 5.11 Dropship Agents Pricing
- 6 Summary
What is a Dropshipping Agent?
This can be a confusing thing if you’re new to dropshipping, well it was for me anyway. It sounds like some undercover James Bond character who also happens to dropship. I couldn’t really understand why you would want an additional middleman taking some of my profits.
A dropshipping agent is a resident from the country you’re dropshipping from who can negotiate pricing, source quality products, manage inventory and organize the best shipping methods. As a local citizen, they are better equipped to oversee the entire logistical process.
A dropshipping agent is essentially a supplier, however, it’s a supplier that you get to choose and can often assist with more services than a standard supplier.
Usually, a dropshipping agent actually consists of a team of people who will take care of all your logistical needs. You generally only deal with one person who is the dropshipping agent.
There are people working alone as a dropshipping agent but these people generally aren’t equipped to work on a large scale.
What Do Dropshipping Agents Do?
Different agents can take care of different aspects of your business depending on your needs. Generally, the best agents can perform most of the tasks listed below which leaves you more time to focus on marketing your products. Some of the things a dropshipping agent can do for your business are:
- Sourcing Products
- Quality Control
- Price negotiating
- Product Storage
- Provide custom packaging
- Blind dropship for you
- Organize product customization and private labeling
- Organize the best shipping methods
- Provide updates on trending products
- Help scale your business
- Order fulfillment
It’s very helpful to count on someone who speaks the local language, knows the Chinese culture, knows how the business works and is right there in China to check on things that you can’t. A reliable and trustworthy agent can not only make your life easier, but it can also be the difference between you running a profitable or unprofitable business.
When contacting suppliers I have multiple free email templates you can use in this article.
Do you Need a Dropshipping Agent?
No, you don’t need a dropshipping agent if you’re dropshipping from China, but it will help reduce many of the potential issues that are inevitable with dropshipping from China.
If you are still in the testing phase and haven’t begun to scale your business yet, you may not need a dropshipping agent. Many dropshipping agents won’t work with you anyway, not until you reach a certain amount of consistent daily orders.
Once you start scaling your business, I’d say working with an agent is essential if you plan to continue to dropship from China. The best dropshipping agents will have warehouse space and be prepared for scaling your business.
The right product can be scaled really fast and you need to be prepared for that. Once you’ve found the right product and optimized your ads, you can go from 50 to 500 sales a day within a week. If your supplier can’t keep up that, you could lose thousands or even millions of dollars in sales.
I wouldn’t recommend scaling your business with AliExpress suppliers. There are endless problems that can arise and usually do, I’m speaking from experience.
Because a dropshipping agent can perform quality control, provide custom packaging with marketing materials and find you the fastest shipping methods, your customers will have a far better buying experience. This means you can charge higher prices, deal with fewer returns and refunds, have more repeat customers and will require far less customer service for you.
Another big advantage of using a dropshipping agent is they have access to shipping options you don’t have. They can use these alternative and superior shipping lines because they are doing large volumes that are not generally used for regular consumer shipping.
These shipping methods will be much faster than the regular ePacket and AliExpress standard shipping most dropshippers use.
The processing times with an agent are much faster than you’ll find with regular AliExpress suppliers. Many AliExpress suppliers can take a week just to process your order because often they are waiting for more orders to come through so they can make a bulk purchase and save money themselves.
If you do decide to order in bulk from Alibaba without an agent, I suggest you read my article on how to avoid being scammed by Alibaba suppliers. It will ensure you only deal with reputable and reliable suppliers.
How Do You Find a Chinese Dropshipping Agent?
There is a number of ways you can find dropshipping agents. It’s not hard to find them, the problem is that a lot of them can be difficult to trust. When you’re running a business and need to rely on someone you’ve never met before, it can be tough.
For more information, I recommend you read my article How to find a dropshipping agent in China!
I’ll list a few ways you can find dropshipping agents, however, there is only one way of finding an agent you can trust:
This is without a doubt the best way of finding a dropshipping agent. Other people’s experience with using a specific agent will give you your best chance at finding an agent who won’t try and screw you over.
Ideally, you want recommendations from people you know who have worked with these agents and had good experiences. If not, you can always take people’s recommendations from people on online forums and YouTube, obviously, you can’t trust their word like you can with a friend.
You’ll come across countless dropshipping agents on Fiverr. Simply type into Fiverr “dropshipping agent” or “sourcing agent” and use the filter to only find agents in China.
You can simply search for the agent that fits your business’s needs. You can then check their job success, their rates, if they speak English and much more.
Facebook is another popular way to find agents. You can go to multiple different groups related to dropshipping and post a message.
Simply leave a short message stating you’re a dropshipper looking to work with a dropshipping agent in China. You’ll be inundated with messages but be careful as some people may be out to scam you.
What Makes a Good Dropshipping Agent?
Ok, so you’re at a point in your business where you may need a dropshipping agent, but how do you know which agents are good ones? It can be difficult to find an honest and reliable agent who will actually help your business instead of hinder it.
So what should you look for to find the right dropshipping agent for you?
They need to work directly with manufacturers
This is a non-negotiable factor when choosing an agent. Dealing directly with manufacturers means you won’t have any unnecessary middlemen and taking your profits. It also means your agent can build a relationship with the factory and they can negotiate pricing, check product quality, manage inventory for you much easier.
If you’re working with an agent who isn’t dealing directly with manufacturers, you might as well be dropshipping from AliExpress.
Some dropshipping agents will have their own app which can integrate with your Shopify store. This enables the agent to able to access your Shopify orders which they can then fulfill the orders for you and they can upload the tracking numbers.
This means you don’t need to worry about fulfilling orders and sending CSV files to your agent. They can take care of the entire fulfillment process for you.
Scaling your Business
If your business is scaling fast, you need to make sure you are working with an agent who is capable of scaling with you. Some agents aren’t equipped to deal with fast scaling and you need to know this before working with them.
You need to work with an agent who has enough warehouse space to store your products and a big enough team that can pick, pack and ship your products efficiently.
Returns and Refunds
If the product arrives broken or simply doesn’t arrive at all, generally the dropshipper absorbs this cost, which is frustrating as that whole process is out of your hands and clearly not your fault.
Working with an agent who offers returns and refunds is a big advantage. This not only saves you money, but it also holds the agent more accountable. It motivates them to source high quality products and to make sure they actually send the right product to the right person.
They Want You to Succeed
A good dropshipping agent understands that if you are successful, they are successful. This means they will try to help you as much as possible.
Your agent should be honest and always offer advice to help you because they are essentially your partner in this. Many agents will be dishonest and could be paid off by the factory to sell inferior products or notify other dropshippers that you’re doing large volume with specific products.
If a dropshipping agent is doing you a favor by telling you of some hot products to selling well, I’d be wary, it means they’re probably telling their other clients about the products you’re selling.
Where in China is Your Agent?
This is an important factor when considering an agent to work with and one many people don’t consider. You need your agent to be close to manufacturing factories and the best shipping options.
The best area for manufacturing is the Yiwu/Shanghai/Zhejiang region. It produces the largest range of products and allows your agent to source and stock your products fast. These areas have reasonable shipping options.
The Shenzhen/Guangzhou region also has some manufacturing factories but can be a little limited. This region has the best shipping lines which is a big advantage during the pandemic.
Are They Experienced?
An agent who has little experience may be tempting initially. They may be far cheaper to work with and as long as they can source the products for you, who cares right?
The problem is there are endless things that can go wrong and will they have the knowledge or the resources to deal with it. When things go wrong it’s usually you who has to pay the price for an inexperienced agent’s mistakes.
Your dropshipping agent needs to have great communication skills. Obviously, they need to be able to speak reasonably good English, but they also need to communicate with you regularly.
They must reply to your questions quickly and keep you updated on any potential issues. If you ask an AliExpress supplier multiple questions in a single message, they might answer one of them and ignore the rest. Don’t work with an agent who does this.
It may be a good option to speak to your agent via Skype to know for sure if they actually speak English. Many suppliers use Google translate to communicate with dropshippers. This is far from ideal and often there will be some miscommunication and that’s where problems arise.
Access to the Best Shipping Options
Generally, the best shipping lines will only work with businesses that are doing large volume. If your agent doesn’t have access to these shipping options, they may not be worth working with.
4PX, CNE Express and YunExpress are some of the fastest shipping options that most dropshippers don’t have access to. Dealing with an agent who can use these options will provide a big advantage over your competition.
At some point, you may want to private label your products so make sure this is something your agent can do when you need it. They need to be able to work with a factory to customize and put your logo on a product.
They also need to be able to provide choices for custom packaging as well as add various types of promotional and marketing materials with your packages.
Dropship Agents Pricing
Obviously, price is important, however, don’t assume the lower the price the better. And don’t assume the higher prices always mean the agent is better either.
See what the agent can do for your business and then compare the price between other agents to decide if they are worth it. You may find it’s more profitable for you to pay extra for an agent who can provide your customers with a better experience.
For more information, I suggest you read my article on how much Chinese sourcing agent fees are.
A dropshipping agent can make or break your store, so take your time in choosing the right one for your business. If possible, find one through recommendations from other people. It can be hard to find an honest and reliable agent just randomly.
You need an agent who wants to build a long-term partnership with you, not an agent who thinks of you as a transaction.
If you’re looking for domestic suppliers I have an article on finding and securing suppliers.