The keyword in the heading of this article is “reliable”. Although I’ll show you several methods of actually finding dropshipping agents, that’s the easy part. Dropshipping agents are not hard to find, but reliable and trustworthy ones are hard to find and in this article, I’ll show you how!
DO NOT underestimate how important choosing an agent is going to be for your business. You are essentially choosing a business partner and a huge part of the success of your business lies with the agent you choose.
The problem is there is zero barrier to entry and anyone can be an agent. This makes it hard to separate an agent that can take your business to the next level from an imposter trying to scam some easy money from you.
I have a complete list of agents based in China here if you need some assistance as well as the services a dropshipping agent can do.
In this first section, I’ll provide you with several methods of actually locating agents and then how you can actually vet your agents so you can avoid unscrupulous and unreliable agents.
To avoid any confusion, dropshipping agents are also known as
- Sourcing agents
- Shipping agents
- eCommerce agents
- Fulfillment agent
- Private dropshipping agents
Ok, now where do you actually locate your agent?
Upwork is the go-to platform most entrepreneurs use for finding dropshipping agents. There are hundreds of agents based in China and other parts of the world offering various agent services on Upwork.
The good part of this method is you actually have access to some important information to help you make your decision. With Upwork you receive:
- Their hourly rate
- Job success rate
- How much they’ve earned
- The services they can provide your business
- Their experience level
2. Facebook Groups
Simply type “dropshipping” into the Facebook search bar and you’ll be given several dropshipping groups. You can then create a post in each dropshipping group requesting a dropshipping agent.
A basic post stating your business requirements and if someone in the group is an agent or can recommend an agent they have personally used.
You’ll have no trouble finding agents on Facebook groups but be prepared for a lot of vetting yourself as you can get bombarded with requests. The problem is they can often have no experience and trying to make an easy dollar.
The ideal way of finding a dropshipping agent is recommendations through a trusted friend, however, this is not always possible. There are several other options when it comes to recommendations.
- By networking on Facebook groups many dropshipping will share their own agents they have had success with.
- YouTubers are often willing to share their agent’s contact details with their viewers.
- Contacting successful dropshippers and simply asking for the details of their Chinese agent can work.
- Many posts on Fiverr are offering the contact details of their dropshipping agent for $5. I don’t know how much I’d trust that though.
Many of the suppliers on AliExpress are actually dropshipping agents themselves. This does not mean you should contact each AliExpress supplier asking if they are an agent until you find a winner.
Instead, once you start making sales with a specific supplier, you can enquire what other services they can provide or if they can put you into contact with a reliable agent that can meet all your business needs.
My posts I think you’ll love:
How much are Chinese sourcing agent fees?
23 Questions you have to ask Alibaba suppliers
5. Dropshipping Agent Platforms
If you’re in the early stages of your business, there are several companies that provide a similar service to a Chinese-based agent in China. Platforms such as CJ Dropshipping and HyperSKU can source products, provide branded packaging and has access to premium shipping lines for fast shipping.
The product pricing is often similar to what you’ll receive using AliExpress so it may be an effective option if you’re making under 20 sales a day. Once you start scaling your business it will be much more profitable to work with an actual agent.
How to Find a GOOD Dropshipping Agent – Vetting Process
Now the important part, you’ve found a dropshipping agent, so how do you know if they’re trustworthy?
The best way to find a reliable dropshipping agent is to vet them thoroughly. Ask several questions, research their companies and do an online interview if required until you find the agent that best suits your business needs.
There are several questions you will need to ask if you want to work with a professional agent. Asking the following questions will show agents you know how things operate in China and you are not someone who can be taken advantage of.
The best agents will be more than happy to answer all of your questions because they have nothing to hide and want to work with you.
1. Where are you located?
The location of your agent within China is very important as each province of China will specialize in different industries. The factory you’re working with should be located within the area that specializes in your niche and your agent should be in this area.
Your agent should be able to drive to your supplier’s location for a variety of reasons including private labeling, quality inspections and multiple sample shipping. Check out my article for information on ordering samples from Alibaba.
2. How many years have you been an agent?
The more experience the better. Experienced agents will not only have a more efficient and streamlined process, but they will usually have built up relationships with manufacturers. This can result in working with the best suppliers with the most benefits.
3. Can you provide me with some references for clients you’ve worked with?
This is a question that will eliminate any inexperienced agents that may have been exaggerating their previous experience. The best dropshipping agents who have provided their clients with a great experience will happily send you a list of references for you to contact.
4. Which shipping lines do you use?
There are many different shipping lines in China and each agent will use different shipping carriers. It’s important to find an agent that has access to shipping lines such as 4PX, YunExpress and CNE Express. Inexperienced agents may not have access to these premium shipping carriers.
5. Are you working as an individual or are you a company?
An individual may be a little cheaper than a company but it will come at a cost. Your entire business is reliant on a single person and if they are unavailable for any reason, your business has to wait on them.
6. What services do you provide?
Agents vary drastically in the services they offer. Some agents are for sourcing suppliers and products and that’s it. Others have warehouses with hundreds of staff that can automate most of your business including storing inventory, inventory management, custom packaging as well as shipping and fulfillment. You want to be fully aware from the start of exactly what you will be paying for.
7. Do you speak fluent English?
The communication between you and your agent is vital for success. You want to be able to get on a video call with your agent when you need to. Many agents will claim to speak English but may be using a translator app to communicate via WeChat and WhatsApp.
8. Will I have contact with the manufacturer?
Many agents will not actually tell you who the factory they are working with is as they don’t want you to have direct contact with them. This is something you want to avoid as you will be completely reliant on your agent for any issues and it increases the chances they are trying to deceive you in some way.
9. Are you being paid by the manufacturer?
Some manufacturers will pay the actual agent a percentage of the orders they bring in but will not disclose this to you. This can be a problem for you because instead of finding you the best manufacturer to work with they will find whichever will pay them the most.
10. Can you provide private labeling?
If you’re looking to create a brand, you need to find out if your agent is capable of this. Can they work with a manufacturer who can provide this and can they offer custom packaging?
11. Who is responsible for returns and refunds?
This should be made very clear before you work with a dropshipping agent. Is the agent responsible for handling returns or is the manufacturer who created the product? The last thing you need is for neither to take responsibility and you’re left out of pocket.
12. How do you deal with order fulfillment during holidays?
The majority of China shuts down during Chinese New Year which runs for around 2 weeks which includes most factories. You can expect your dropshipping agent to do the same, however, some agents may take an extended break and you need to prepare for this period.
13. How many orders a day can you manage?
If your agent is running a business all alone, how many orders a day can they actually support? You have to know that you can scale your business with confidence when the time is right. I strongly recommend working with an actual team instead of a one-man show.
My Final Tips for Finding Reliable Dropship Agents
The list of questions above is an effective strategy for sourcing reliable agents only. Experienced and professional agents want your business and should be willing to answer your questions. If they don’t want to answer your questions, they probably have something to hide.
These are my final tips for finding reliable agents:
- Ask for a batch of tracking numbers from recent orders they’ve fulfilled. This proves they’re actually working as a legitimate agent and shows you the shipping times you can expect with them.
- During the vetting process, don’t just pick an agent and be done with the rest. Stay connected with your next choices as you may require a backup.
- Make sure the agent you work with has fast response times, actually listens to you and is transparent about how they operate.
- If you’re looking for a list of agents in China, LeeLine Sourcing has a list of 70 to choose from.
- Try and find an agent who is responsible for returns and refunds. The reason is that returns will come out of their pocket which makes the agent far more likely to find reputable factories that produce high quality products.
For more information, I suggest you read my article Chinese Dropshipping Agents – Everything You Need to Know!