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Direct vs. Indirect Sourcing From China

When you plan to procure products from China there are two sourcing options – direct and indirect. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. You will need to understand the differences between these two approaches. It will help you make an informed decision that improves cost, efficiency, and risk management.

Direct procurement

Direct sourcing is a do-it-yourself model, where you will be responsible for the procurement process.


– You can have more control over product customization, specifications, and production schedules.

– You eliminate agent’s commission and potentially negotiate lower prices directly with the manufacturer.

– Communicating directly fosters trust and full transparency in the production process, leading to strong and long-term partnership over time.


– You will have to find a trustworthy supplier, negotiate, oversee quality control, and manage logistics. This will need in-house expertise and resources.

– Lack of cultural and language barriers can lead to misunderstandings and delays.

– Due to limited network finding reliable niche product manufacturers is time-consuming and challenging.

– First-timers can find it hard to navigate the import regulations, tariffs, and customer clearance procedures.

Directly procuring products from China is suitable for companies with:

– Large order volumes

– In-house expertise

– Strong negotiation skills

Indirect sourcing – convenience through established channels

Indirect sourcing involves buying products from China through a third party, like a trading company or sourcing agency. Maple Sourcing Company has been helping importers in successfully procuring premium products from China. Aaron Li, the MD, has worked diligently towards building a trusted brand in China’s sourcing market. Approaching the sourcing company will offer several advantages.

– Convenience & efficiency: The intermediaries handling the sourcing process are well-established. This simplifies the procurement process and saves your business time and resources.

– Market expertise: The Sourcing Company has a network of reliable manufacturers. You gain access to a wide product range and a better pricing structure.

– Reduced risk – Sourcing Companies often handle QC procedures, logistics, and customs clearance. It reduces the risks associated with language barriers and unfamiliar regulations.


– Your overall costs increase, which reduces your potential profit margin.

– As dependency on sourcing companies increases, so does the control over product customization, QC, and production schedules.

– You will find it hard to establish relationships directly with manufacturers, so there is limited transparency in the production process.

Indirect sourcing is perfect for companies with:

– Small order volume

– Limited resources

– Time constraints

Which method to choose?

The best approach depends on your business needs and resources. When you decide, consider the following –

– Order volume & frequency

– Product Complexity

– Risk tolerance

– Internal resources

You can even choose to go hybrid. In this way leverage the strength of both methods. For example,

1) You can initially source through an agent, like finding a reliable manufacturer, and then shift to a direct relationship once the supplier is established.

2) For high volumes and customization needs, you can choose direct sourcing for core products, and for less complicated, low-volume items, opt for indirect sourcing.


There is no golden strategy to determine between direct sourcing from China or choosing a reliable sourcing company. Carefully evaluate your needs and choose the approach that aligns with your long-term goals. You can even consider a hybrid model. So, understand your options for successful product procurement from China!

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