China Purchasing Agent – Should Importers Hire One?

China purchasing agent basics. How to make the most of working with an experienced purchasing agent and what to expect. The right agent for you can add huge value

Vaughn Cook RockWell Window Wells
Editorial Team
March 13, 2023

Organizations may have come across the term ‘purchasing agent’. Also called purchasers or buyers, purchasing agents interact closely with company leaders and purchasing managers to evaluate and negotiate product requirements and price with suppliers. To be successful as a purchasing agent, a person is required to have strong negotiation skills, a keen attention to detail, high standards, and good conflict management abilities.

Individuals and companies that import products from other economies may wonder whether they should hire a China purchasing agent. After all, if someone is outsourcing goods from China, it might be worthwhile to have a local presence that can guide them to making effective purchase decisions. In this article, we shall explore more about a purchasing agent. We will explore what role they play in a company and how their responsibilities interact with those of other company departments. We shall also see some reasons why importing entities should consider having a China purchasing agent.

Who is a China purchasing agent?

A China purchasing agent is an agent based in China who coordinates purchasing and shipping of equipment and supplies for a company. Whereas wholesale buyers buy goods for resale purposes - purchasing agents buy goods, raw materials, services, and anything else necessary for business operations. Purchasing agents are hired by schools, universities, government offices, businesses, and other institutions to manage their stock.

Since purchasing agents are tasked with monitoring product quality and replenishing goods, their responsibilities include monitoring the market situation and fluctuations in price. This information is used to calculate the price of goods, the cost to handle and ship items, and the wages to be paid to workers for loading and unloading products. The purchasing agent assists with verifying prices of products and obtains recommendations for substitute products. They also oversee purchase requisitions and authorize payment for goods purchased.

Purchasing agents will resolve issues pertaining to shipment of products. They organize their company’s production schedule with that of multiple suppliers. Since they are the ones that obtain the purchased items, purchasing agents work with suppliers to sort out all delays or errors with order shipment. For instance, if a supplier communicates that there will be a delay in product arrival, the purchasing agent can coordinate with them to procure the products in advance.

In most organizations, purchasing agents work closely with other departments. They work with the finance team to sort and file all purchase documents. They handle paperwork, expedite orders, organize shipment, and settle claims. Agents also provide control and planning information pertaining to buying by gathering, assessing, and listing trends.

In some instances, agents work with teams to provide educational sessions. Small organizations might ask their purchasing agent to carry out all the purchasing duties for them. Bigger organizations, on the other hand, could recruit over a hundred agents tasked with purchasing a specific product or equipment.

The role of a purchasing agent involves juggling multiple tasks that includes but is not limited to supply chain management, operations, data analysis, record collection, logistics, and accounting. In addition to being proficient in math and organizational management, purchasing agents should have certain essential skills to excel in their jobs.

Since purchasing agents perform coordinating duties, they should have strong oral and written communication skills. Good communication skills help agents to manage professional relationships and work with different teams. They are also good at negotiating, which enables them to convince suppliers to sell their products at rates that do not hurt the business.

Purchasing agents also have good research and analytical skills which they use to make business decisions like finding reliable sources of raw materials. They are also skilled at solving problems. Through good communication, a purchasing agent can solve issues like defective goods or a delay in delivery rationally and in a timely manner.

Why should importers hire a China purchasing agent?

There are several reasons for hiring a trustworthy agent. If you are working with vendors based in China, a purchasing agent can interact with them in the local language and place your purchase order. They also have commercial knowledge and awareness of current market prices which can be useful for negotiating prices of your products.

In addition to the above, there are other reasons why hiring a purchasing agent from China can be beneficial for you. Let’s explore some of these reasons below.

Knowledge of industry trends

A purchasing agent is aware of trends within your industry that affect prices of products. They know which products would be better suited for your industry and how they can be obtained from the supplier. Most business owners have multiple responsibilities to juggle, and they might not have the time to stay abreast of price information and market trends. Having a purchasing agent coordinate purchasing allows owners to make the best use of an agent’s knowledge while they focus on their operations.

China purchasing agent - Containers
Shipping often need active management as issues do arise

Managing shipment issues

The ideal purchasing agent is someone who is well-versed in conflict resolution and is willing to work with suppliers to address problems pertaining to delivery. The agent builds relationships with your company’s vendors and nurtures them. When there is any conflict or unexpected event, the agent can use their connection with your vendor to find a solution for your company.

For instance, if your company sees a huge demand for a product that is needed immediately, the agent can work with the vendor to ask for an expedited delivery of products. This should be achieved while ensuring that there is not an immense rise in charges for urgent delivery. Your purchasing agent can help to attain this by maintaining good working relationships with your vendors who will be there for you during your time of need.

Organization of the purchase process

There are several components in the purchasing process including but not limited to placement of order, negotiating price, arranging shipment, and tracking shipment. Having a set of purchasing agents manage this process instead of you managing it directly can be effective and more efficient.

Your agent is tasked with the process of locating a range of vendors, comparing their product deals, and making an offer on the best deals. The agent has to negotiate with the supplier until they receive a product at its best possible price. Your agent also determines the quality of the goods and will work with suppliers who will offer you the best quality products.

A reliable agent knows the laws and regulations which apply to buying and shipping goods to other nations. They handle all the paperwork and ensure that it is accurately filled. They will inform you what additional charges you may have to pay such as value-added tax, excise duties, etc.

You will not have to worry about your products reaching you as your purchasing agent arranges for it using a trustworthy shipping company service. They also make sure that freight forwarding occurs smoothly. Because of the detail and complexity of the nature of work involved in purchasing, having an agent helps to make sure all components are well organized.


The deals between you and your vendors affect your net income. Making sure that you reach a financially lucrative deal is an important responsibility. Your China purchasing agent takes care of this by using their experience and skill to negotiate product prices with local Chinese vendors. They are more likely to reach a better deal on your behalf because of their awareness of local customs.

Make sure that your purchasing agent has a track record of performing solid negotiations. It is important especially for a small business to stick to their budget. Purchasing goods that are too expensive can negatively impact your profit margin. 

Vendor relationship management

A purchasing agent is like a representative who acts on behalf of your company and makes important business decisions. A great agent can benefit importing organizations by cultivating relationships with vendors which are essential to keep their business afloat. They communicate with vendors on purchasing matters and uphold the requirements of the business. Purchasing agents make sure that businesses continue to receive a consistent supply of their stock by maintaining positive relationships with vendors.

A positive outlook for the company

An ethical purchasing agent will also help to build a positive reputation for the organization. Because of the emphasis on sustainable practices in the workplace, consumers these days want to obtain services from those organizations that embraces these practices. Emphasis on sustainability is not just laid upon the vision and mission statements, but also on how sustainably the company procures its products.

As the representative for a company, the agent will align their duties with the values of the company and locate vendors sharing the same principles. This allows organizations to act on their principles on sustainable and ethical business practices. Ultimately, the purchasing agent can help to enhance the image and approval of the company which translates to better business opportunities for them.


To conclude, a China purchasing agent coordinates the process of purchasing products on behalf of a company by working with suppliers and other departments. They identify suppliers within their local area who are reliable and offer high-quality products at the best business deals. They contract with such suppliers to place orders for goods and services for the company.

A solid agent monitors inventory levels, assesses purchase needs, negotiates contracts, and determines the ultimate price of stock. They also schedule and verify product deliveries. Purchasing agents help to maintain positive relations with suppliers which impacts the bottom line of your business.

Sourcing Allies is a team of expert China sourcing agents that has helped western customers manufacture and source products from low-cost regions since 2006.

For more on China sourcing visit our website or write to us at

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