Hiring a buying agency is critical to the success of your project, whether it is about only a few pieces of customized furniture for your house, a large-scale project involving the furnishing of a whole resort or continuous restocking of shop supplies.
This checklist should help you evaluate export agencies from Indonesia and other countries:
1. What services does the agent offer?
You should expect more from an agent than just working as an intermediary between you and the producer. Demand at least the following services: Quality control done by agent and regular updates about the production process. Free warehouse service to consolidate multiple orders. Consultation about the trade-off between price and quality, explanation of various material and finishing options. Packaging and export preparation.
2. Does the sourcing agency have a minimum order?
Many agents have a minimum order quantity of a 20ft container (in other words, min: $5k – $15.000, or several hundred pieces of goods). Most clients are just interested in some few pieces. Even customers with bigger orders in mind would like to first order samples to access the workmanship. Further, after the main order, the client might want to order some few more products as completion. This also includes customized products. Sample orders possible. Thorough consultation, quality control and shipping services even for small orders.
3. Do they have experience with your kind of order?
There are fundamental differences between products for commercial and for private use. Products in public areas are used by many people. They must not only comply with local regulations, but also need to be more robust (material, joinery, finishing) than, let’s say, private garden furniture. A good agent must understand this and act accordingly. Further, many private clients might order for the first time overseas and need concise information on the whole process.
4. Which product range and materials do they offer?
First, many agents focus only on specific products (building materials, textiles etc.) and therefore might be not the right choice for your request. However, picking an agent whose expertise is only your kind of products is also not recommended, as for future orders, of different products, you will have to find another agent. Also, an agent with a broader expertise might suggest you solutions where it is required “to think outside the box”. An agent should have experience in a broad range of products: building materials, furniture, textiles, deco items etc. Also, an agent should be able to suggest alternative materials and finishings.
5. Are customized designs possible?
Customized designs must be possible. These can be based on pictures, drawings or just a description. Of course, customized products should have no minimum order. Finally, do not pay more for customized products than for regular products from the catalog. A “design fee” is just not acceptable.