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The ability to source products overseas is important to some clients, so having that in your back pocket is a great way to compete.

I have never gone direct or worked through one of these custom sourcing agencies. I prefer to work through one of my trusted suppliers custom sourcing departments for a number of reasons:

1) I already have a working relationship with these companies, so I know what to expect from them.

2) They already have the infrastructure to oversee these orders so I don’t have to do anything more than my normal check-ins to make sure everything is progressing as expected.

3) I know they will be more careful about CPSIA regulations and required testing.

4) They have the contacts I don’t when bad things happen overseas or in customs.

5) I can actually talk to someone during American business hours and I don’t have issues with cultural or language barriers. Before you condemn me on that, understand that I am the daughter of immigrants and speak three languages fluently, one not-so fluently and a few phrases in two others. I get cultural differences and language issues and I know that it’s far more difficult to understand someone with a heavy accent of any kind over the phone than it is in person and I don’t have a working knowledge of Oriental cultural idiosyncrasies.

Yes, I’m paying more for this, but I explain the upsides and the downsides to my clients and it’s usually worth it to them for the extra little bit they’re paying.