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The difference between Sourcing and Procurement and how they can help to grow your business

In the realm of international business, navigating the complexities of global sourcing of products from overseas can be a daunting task. Whether you’re a small startup or an established corporation, finding the right partner to facilitate your Asian or China procurement needs is crucial for success. Two common types of intermediaries that often come into play in this process are sourcing agents and trading companies. While they may seem similar at first glance, understanding the differences between them is essential for making informed decisions and optimizing your supply chain strategy.

What is a Sourcing Company ?

A sourcing agent, also known as a buying agent or procurement agent, acts as a representative on behalf of a buyer to source products or services from manufacturers or suppliers in a specific geographic region. These agents typically have in-depth knowledge of the local market, industry trends, and supplier networks, making them invaluable resources for companies looking to source products from overseas.

The primary role of a sourcing agent is to facilitate the procurement process by identifying suitable suppliers, negotiating prices and terms, overseeing quality control, and managing logistics. They essentially serve as an extension of the buyer’s team, working closely with them to ensure that their sourcing needs are met efficiently and cost-effectively.

ET2C International Global Sourcing Company

ET2C are a leading Global Sourcing company with over twenty years’ experience working with clients across the World to make their sourcing simple.. Our team of 200 colleagues are based in seven offices in key sourcing markets across Asia.

We work with our clients to make their global sourcing simple, becoming their bridge to their supply partners. Where time zones, language, business communication expectations or QC can become challenging.

Our team of experts can help you build and deliver your sourcing strategy and ensure you are working with the right factory partners. Giving you independent feet on the ground and confidence with fast responses, removing time zone and language challenges. If you would like to explore sourcing opportunities  or to discuss your future supply chain challenges. Please

The Sourcing Specialist: Your Eyes and Ears on the Ground

A good sourcing agent acts as an extension of your business, finding the best manufacturers and suppliers for your specific needs. They’ll scour the market, negotiate prices, and ensure quality control throughout the production process.

What is a Trading Company?

On the other hand, a trading company, also known as an import-export company or middleman, is a business entity that buys products from manufacturers or suppliers and sells them to buyers in different markets. Unlike sourcing agents, trading companies typically maintain their inventory of products and act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.

The Trading Company: Your One-Stop Shop for Ready-Made Goods

Trading companies are established businesses that buy products in bulk, often from various manufacturers, and then resell them to companies. They often have a wide range of products already in stock, saving you time on sourcing.

The Advantages of working with Global Sourcing Companies

  • Customization:Sourcing agents excel at finding manufacturers for unique or bespoke products.
  • Exactly to your specifications: Sourcing companies will find the perfect supply partners for our product or brands needs.
  • Quality Control:They become your eyes and ears on the ground, ensuring your products meet your quality standards.
  • Relationships and Negotiation:They leverage their network to find reliable suppliers and negotiate the best deals.

Critical Differences Between Sourcing Agents and Trading Companies:

  1. Representation: Sourcing agents represent the buyer’s interests and work on their behalf to source products from suppliers. In contrast, trading companies act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers and may represent both parties in a transaction.
  2. Ownership of Inventory: Sourcing agents do not own or hold inventory; instead, they facilitate transactions between buyers and suppliers. Trading companies, on the other hand, typically maintain their inventory of products and sell them to buyers.
  3. Control Over the Supply Chain: Sourcing agents focus on facilitating the procurement process and coordinating with suppliers to ensure timely delivery and quality control.

Which Option is Right for You?

The choice between using a sourcing agent or a trading company depends on various factors such as your sourcing needs, budget, and level of control over the supply chain.

If you’re looking for more control over the sourcing process and prefer to work directly with suppliers, a sourcing agent may be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a one-stop shop for ready goods, a trading company may be more suitable.

In conclusion, while sourcing agents and trading companies serve similar functions in facilitating international trade, they differ in their roles, responsibilities, and business models. By carefully evaluating your sourcing needs and considering the pros and cons of each option, you can choose the right partner to help you achieve your business objectives and succeed in the global marketplace.

ET2C International: Your Trusted Partner in Sourcing

At ET2C, as a sourcing agent, we specialize in simplifying the complexities of Global Sourcing. With over two decades of industry experience, offices spanning seven countries, and a dedicated team, we’re committed to facilitating seamless sourcing strategies for clients spanning from multinational retailers to burgeoning e-commerce startups.

If you’re interested in exploring how we can help achieve your strategic sourcing objectives, please contact us at

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