E-commerce companies have several ways to get the products they need to sell to their customers, especially if they’re sourcing them from another company like China. One way to obtain products that the e-commerce company can’t get themselves is through a sourcing agent. Another way is through a fulfillment agent. While these two sound similar, they actually have two very different roles in a supply chain. The fulfillment agent job description involves much more than that of a sourcing agent. Here’s what you need to know about both roles.
Sourcing Agent Job Description
A sourcing agent is a critical component of any e-commerce supply chain in that they are responsible for finding suppliers that can meet a buyer’s product needs. They are usually necessary in international trade because the buyer is usually unable to visit the country to find these suppliers themselves. They rely on sourcing agents to identify the right supplier and negotiate pricing. Once these duties are completed, their job is essentially done until the buyer needs them again for another product.
Fulfillment Agent Job Description
A fulfillment agent is a sourcing agent, but they do much more than just source suppliers for an e-commerce company. Instead, a fulfillment agent handles the buyer’s entire supply chain. They manage the sourcing, production, warehousing, and logistics until the product is delivered directly to the customer. This often results in a much smoother experience for both the e-commerce company and the customer, which is something that benefits everyone involved.
Critical Skills of a Fulfillment Agent
While a sourcing agent focuses purely on the relationship between e-commerce businesses and factories, a fulfillment agent has several other critical skills that make them stand out in the field of supply chain logistics. For one, they are experienced in building relationships with China-based warehouses. This is necessary because as an e-commerce company, you’ll need warehouse space in China to house your inventory. You need to trust your fulfillment agent that your products are in good hands.
Second, fulfillment agents are able to source superior products directly from factories. This is similar to what a sourcing agent does, but because a fulfillment agent handles the entire supply chain, they care more about the quality of the product than a sourcing agent does. They know that they’re responsible for getting a quality product into the hands of your customers, so they take extreme care in selecting only the best factories to manufacture your products.
A third critical skill that fulfillment agents have is the ability to optimize your supply chain to maximize profits. After all, you’re in this business to make money, not to give it all away to supply chain inefficiencies. Your products will move through the system smoothly and efficiently and be in the hands of your customers as quickly as possible. From sourcing to shipping, every part of your supply chain will run like a well-oiled machine.
Whether you choose to partner with a sourcing agent or a fulfillment agent is entirely up to you and what your specific needs are. But if you want someone to handle your entire international supply chain so that your hassles and headaches are minimized, go with a fulfillment agent and watch your profits soar.
Published by Samantha Brown