The Benefits of Using a Sourcing Specialist

Why Use a Sourcing Specialist?

Leveraging the expertise of a sourcing specialist to meet your manufacturing needs can create huge benefits for your business. A sourcing specialist can help streamline your supply chain, reduce manufacturing costs, and can free up time to allow you to pour energy into other focus-hungry aspects of your operations.

Examples / Kanary Expert Opinion

Find Higher-Quality Products at Better Prices

A sourcing specialist has long-term relationships with high-quality suppliers, which means they can help match you with a factory in a short period of time that may be an optimal fit for the product you want to produce. Sourcing specialists also have deep experience with negotiation, which can yield higher-quality products at more competitive pricing than what you'd find on platforms like Alibaba.

Clear Customs With Ease

A sourcing specialist will have in-depth experience about how to consistently and efficiently clear customs. They can help you get all of that paperwork you need to clear customs, help you to navigate roadblocks during the customs process, and can coordinate with your freight shipping partners to unload and reload products as fast as possible. 

Complete Supply Chain Management

Managing your supply chain takes an enormous amount of effort, but a good sourcing specialist can handle your entire supply chain, from start to finish. They can manage factories, develop shipping logistics, help clear customs, and make sure that orders make it to their final destination. If you don't have the time or resources it takes to successfully manage your supply chain, a sourcing agent can handle the entire process.

Kanary: The Best Choice in Product Sourcing

Physical Presence in China

We have a physical presence in China, which allows us to directly supervise factory production. That helps us to manage quality control, and more easily schedule shipments from factories or warehouses to freight shipping partners. 

Bilingual Support

Our experts are bilingual in English and Mandarin, which removes the challenge of a language barrier between you and your supplier. We can also clearly convey design plans, specific production requirements, and easily negotiate terms to make sure you get the best pricing on your products. 

Expertise in Product Sourcing

Kanary isn't new to managing supply chains or sourcing products from China-based factories. Our team has 50 years of supply chain experience, which includes private labeling, developing new products from scratch, and helping businesses bulk order the materials they need to operate.  We're able to offer these services and still provide net cost savings to our clients. 

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Sourcing Specialist FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Sourcing Specialist and Sourcing Agent?

The terms sourcing specialist and sourcing agent refer to the same thing. Regardless of whether you're working with either, you'll get help finding a supplier, lowering manufacturing costs, and streamlining your supply chain. 

What Does a Sourcing Specialist Do? 

The primary role of a sourcing specialist is to help businesses connect with better suppliers that can reduce manufacturing costs without compromising quality. Specifically, you can expect a sourcing specialist to:

●      Help find a supplier, if you don't have one.
●      Help find a better supplier more suited to the needs of your business.
●      Streamline your supply chain to lower costs.
●      Communicate directly with the factory on your behalf.
●      Manage the sampling process.
●      Supervise quality control during production.
●      Troubleshoot production issues.
●      Organize air or sea freight shipping.
●      Take lead on making sure your products clear customs, including preparing all         required paperwork.

As you might expect, it takes a high level of expertise to offer these services if you want to work with a supplier in China. We'd love to talk to you about what you should be looking for, and if our services aren't a good match for your needs, we can help you find a sourcing specialist that is a match.

How Do You Find a Sourcing Agent in China?

There are several ways you can find a sourcing agent or sourcing specialist to help you work with a China-based supplier:


One of the easiest ways to find a sourcing specialist is to ask other businesses that you know work with China-based factories. While it's not a guarantee that they work with a sourcing specialist, they might, and it would be a good place to start shopping.

Online Searching

A simple Google search will pull up a lot of options for sourcing agents, but that doesn't mean they are all going to be a good choice for you. You'll want to take time to vet sourcing specialists, just like you would when looking for a supplier. Some factors to consider when looking for a sourcing agent online include:

●      Location: You don't want a sourcing specialist that doesn't operate in the         country you want to source from
●      Experience: You'll take a huge risk working with a sourcing specialist that is         brand new
●      References: Does this choice have a track record of success with other         businesses?
●      Language Support: A sourcing specialist that isn't truly bilingual will struggle         to provide the best support.
●      Services: Not all sourcing specialists offer the same kinds of services.

Ask Kanary!

We love helping businesses, but we only take clients that we think will benefit from our services. You can reach out to us with your specific business needs, and if we don't think we'd be a good fit, we can point you in the right direction of other reputable sourcing specialists that may be a better fit for your business.

How Does a Sourcing Specialist Find Suppliers?

Sourcing specialists have a variety of ways to locate suppliers, but since we know ourselves best, let's talk about how Kanary finds suppliers for our clients:

Established Contacts

Kanary has been forming relationships with China-based suppliers for years, so we already have a vetted list of trusted suppliers that we love to work with. We'll pull from this group of suppliers if we think that they're a good match for what you're looking for. We do not get kickbacks from factories, so we're free to select suppliers based on quality alone.

Alibaba and Similar Platforms

Alibaba is a B2B online platform where businesses can shop for China-based suppliers. Often, we'll have a client whose needs can't be met by our vetted suppliers, so we'll put in the legwork to make a connection with a new supplier that's a good match. We know the positive signs of a quality supplier, as well as the red flags of problematic suppliers to avoid. 

Alibaba isn't the only platform to find suppliers, so we'll use several sites to find a large pool of candidates (usually 20-25), and then we'll whittle down those options based on your needs, budget, and the quality of the supplier.

Can a Sourcing Specialist Find a Supplier for Prototypes?

Not all sourcing specialists can help with prototype sourcing, but Kanary can! We've helped several businesses connect with suppliers that have the capacity to manufacture brand new, novel products, and we help businesses navigate the process of creating a prototype. Some of those steps include:

●      Delivering designs to the manufacturer
●      Shipping the 3D printed prototype
●      Helping a factory mold be developed, and negotiating with suppliers on your         behalf
●      Organizing the sampling process to make sure that products meet your quality         standards

If you need a prototype developed, or if you need to customize an existing product, Kanary can help find the perfect supplier for your business.

Is a Sourcing Specialist Worth It?

This question can only be answered by your specific business, but for the clients that Kanary helps, the answer is an overwhelming yes. You may be in a similar spot as many of our clients were, and a sourcing specialist may be worth it if your business has any of the following qualities: 

●      Little to no experience working directly with factories
●      Little to no experience working with suppliers based in China
●      Lack of in-house expertise regarding streamlining your supply chain
●      Little to no experience searching for, vetting, and choosing new suppliers
●      If you are dissatisfied with your current China-based supplier but don't have         the expertise to negotiate costs or find a new supplier
●      Lack of in-house bilingual support for English and Mandarin Chinese

We take the guesswork out of finding a supplier, improve product quality, and streamline the overall supply chain process. On average, we are able to save our clients a minimum of 20% while improving operations, which definitely makes working with a sourcing specialist like Kanary worth it.

Can a Sourcing Specialist Help Me Clear Customs?

They can! Sourcing specialists that help businesses ship products (like Kanary) will also help to ensure that you have the proper customs paperwork ready so you avoid common headaches when your products reach port. Some of this documentation includes:

●      Bill of Lading
●      Packing invoice
●      Commercial invoice
●      Appropriate HTS codes

A sourcing specialist will also work with your customs broker so you can have a true, hands-off experience when your order begins to work its way through the customs process. Keep in mind, though, that partnering with a sourcing specialist or customs broker is not a guarantee you'll avoid customs issues, but it can reduce the likelihood of problems.

Do I Have to Use a Sourcing Specialist to Work With China-Based Suppliers?

Businesses do not have to use a sourcing specialist to work with China-based suppliers. In fact, you don't even have to use platforms like Alibaba if you already have an existing connection with a supplier in China that you trust, can easily communicate with, and who can meet your business needs. 

However, the vast majority of businesses just getting started on working with China-based suppliers likely won't have this kind of easy, trustworthy connection. At the very least, you'll need to use a platform like Alibaba to find a supplier (and Alibaba offers certain buyer protections through their Trade Assurance program), or you can use a sourcing specialist, like Kanary.

Can a Sourcing Specialist Help With Consolidated Shipping?

Yes! Kanary helps businesses with consolidated shipping on a regular basis. It's one of the easiest ways to reduce costs without having to change anything about the manufacturing process of your product. 

If you're unfamiliar, consolidated shipping is the process of waiting to ship large volume orders until an entire shipping container can be filled. While it requires more effort and planning, especially if you are coordinating between multiple suppliers, filling an entire container has enormous benefits, including:

●      Drastically lower shipping fees (it's far less expensive to fill one container than to         use two partially filled containers)
●      Easier customs process
●      Easier unloading process after customs is cleared

If at all possible, consolidated shipping should be used, and sourcing specialists like Kanary can take the lead in making it happen.

Can a Sourcing Specialist Help With Sea Freight Shipping?

Yes! Sourcing specialists, including Kanary, can help businesses organize sea freight shipping for businesses who are using China-based suppliers. It is much better to use a sourcing specialist to help with sea freight shipping than to allow the supplier to organize shipment themselves.

Does a Sourcing Specialist Use Alibaba to Find Suppliers?

It's common for a sourcing specialist to use Alibaba to find suppliers for clients, including Kanary. This is because even if a supplier has a list of trusted factories, they may not be able to meet the specific needs of a particular business. Kanary regularly uses Alibaba to find suppliers for clients, and it's a common practice throughout the industry.

How Do I Know if I Need to Use a Sourcing Specialist?

The best thing to do is to ask a sourcing specialist if they can provide a net benefit to your company. For example, Kanary saves customers at least 20% on average, so even if businesses are struggling with their China-based supply partner, they may still get huge benefits from partnering with one. 

In general, there are some common qualities of businesses that likely need to use a sourcing specialist, which includes businesses that:

●      Don't have experience connecting with China-based suppliers
●      Don't have the resources to dedicate full-time attention to communicating with,         negotiating with, and managing factories
●      Don't or are unable to have a physical presence in China
●      Don't have experience working directly with factories
●      Lack bilingual staff (it's very important that you have someone fluent in         Mandarin Chinese on your staff)
●      Know they want to take advantage of consolidated shipping, but don't have the         time or resources to do it themselves

We would love to talk to you about how our services can make your life easier and can save you money.

What Sets Kanary Apart From Other Sourcing Specialists?

Kanary has some unique qualities that most sourcing specialist won't be able to match:

●      Physical Presence in the U.S.A. and China: We have physical locations in         both the U.S. and China. That makes it easy to connect with us and consistently         communicate with our domestic clients and with our China-based supply         partners.
●      Fully Bilingual: We are fully bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese,         allowing us to facilitate clear communication between our clients and our         suppliers
●      Supply Chain Experts: We have years of experience working with clients to         streamline their supply chain to reduce costs without sacrificing quality.
●      One-Stop-Shop: We can help with anything your business needs regarding         sourcing products, including finding suppliers, managing suppliers, shipping         products, creating custom products, developing prototypes, and anything else         you may need.

Does My Sourcing Specialist Need to Be Bilingual?

Your sourcing specialist doesn't have to be bilingual, but they really should be. One of the benefits of partnering with a sourcing specialist is that they can clearly communicate with you, and can clearly communicate your needs to your chosen supplier.

If there's a language barrier in either direction of communication, it can spell problems down the road when production begins.

I Already Have a Supplier I Love. Can I Benefit From a Sourcing Specialist?

Yes! Partnering with a sourcing specialist doesn't mean that you have to change suppliers. In fact, an experienced sourcing specialist, like Kanary, can help you save on costs even with a supplier that you have an existing relationship with. We can help by:

●      Negotiating better terms that benefits both you and the supplier
●      Improve product quality with an existing supplier
●      Streamline the entire supply chain, from the supplier all the way to the final         delivery destination

We help businesses save on every aspect of their supply chain, not just in finding and managing a supplier.

What Kinds of Companies Do Sourcing Specialists Work With?

Sourcing specialists usually have an "ideal" business in mind that fits their expertise. This could be specific business sizes, or even specific industries. For Kanary, we tend to partner with medium sized companies or small companies experiencing high levels of growth. However, we like to talk with businesses to really determine if we're a good match. 

Kanary will also source products for any industry, since our expertise is sourcing, not sourcing for a specific industry. Some example of past industries we've sourced products for includes:

●      Healthcare, like masks and hand sanitizer dispensers
●      Construction materials, like artificial grass and flooring
●      Packaging, like box packaging, glass containers, and plastic bag packing
●      Agricultural products, like greenhouse materials
●      Commercial machinery, like chocolate enrobing machines, flow wrap machines,         shrink wrap machines, and vertical weighing and packing machines

Remember, we can source any product, just as long as your business size and structure is a good fit for our services.

What’s the Difference Between a Sourcing Specialist and Dropshipping Agent?

While they may seem similar at first, the differences between sourcing specialists and dropshipping agents is significant. Dropshipping agents cater more to B2C businesses that focus on direct-to-customer fulfillment, helping those businesses to receive and fulfill customer orders. Dropshipping agents may help businesses source products, but they cater specifically to dropshipping businesses. 

Sourcing specialists, on the other hand, can offer assistance to any model of business. If you operate a dropshipping store (or other direct-to-consumer fulfillment model), a sourcing specialist can still help you connect with a supplier and a fulfillment warehouse.

For businesses that use domestic warehouses, or need products required for business operations (like machinery or building materials), sourcing specialists can also help. In addition to finding ideal suppliers, they can help ensure a streamlined shipping experience, including offering consolidated shipping. 

If you're curious about a more in-depth explanation of the differences between sourcing specialists and dropshipping agents, we've written an extensive article explaining the nuanced differences.

My Business Needs Difficult to Ship Products in an Unusual Industry Niche. Can Kanary Help?

Yes! In fact, businesses that have unusual products with unique shipping requirements should look to an experienced sourcing specialist for help. There's a lot that can go wrong with shipping fragile or hazardous materials, and Kanary's expertise will shine when difficult products need to be sourced.

Our services also shine with products that are hard to find or hard to manufacture. We know how to find suppliers, even for difficult-to-make goods, and we can leverage our expertise to give you the best pricing and the best quality. We strongly encourage businesses that have had difficulty finding an appropriate, China-based supplier to contact us for assistance.

Words from our clients

I’ve been in this industry for a long time and I was surprised that Kanary was able to help find us machines for a 1/3 of the cost compared with US and European manufacturers. What I really enjoy with Kanary is that they constantly keep me in the loop and get back to me almost instantaneously. What’s also great is that they kept me in the loop with the shipping, customs clearance, delivery, and also arrange travels for engineers from the factory to install our equipment.  The quality has been outstanding and I’m in the process of building out a new facility with them.
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I’ve been in the construction industry for over 30 years. We’ve always bought from US distributors. I reached out to Kanary out of curiosity to see if we could find similar construction materials of high quality. I did not think they were going to make much progress and so I was shocked when they found the exact manufacturer that my distributors have been buying from within 2 weeks. They were able to make contact and have the factory send me samples within a week.  By connecting directly with the factory, we’re looking at savings of over 30%.
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We’ve done quite a few different packaging projects with Kanary in the past (Child-resistant packaging, glass jars, plastic bags, shipper boxes, etc.). We sent AI files to Kanary, who then worked directly with the factory's design team to make prototypes of the packaging. Our in-house designer is very particular about our designs and Kanary was really flexible and worked with us when our designers wanted to make changes in the packaging development process. They were able to manufacture different prototypes at different price points, which gave us options when making our final decision.
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