How To Work The Canton Fair Like A Pro [Podcast Ep07]
Have you ever been to the Canton Fair?
It’s a trade show that happens every year, in Spring and Autumn, in Canton (Guangzhou) China.
I’m going to tell you how to navigate the fair, or any Chinese trade show for that matter, like a pro.
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Here’s what you must bring with you to the shows:
- Business cards.
- A bag with wheels so that you can easily carry catalogs.
- Your company presentation (electronic or printed) to show factories your brand, products, or background info.
- Something to record information (pen, tablet, smartphone.)
- Make sure you’re able to receive name cards, record the items of interest and the prices that you’re quoted at the show and any other details you’re quoted. I always recommend a notepad to staple the card in the pad and make notes within that.
- Just some friendly advice. Bring your passport photos for easy registration. These will always come in useful, especially if you lose your show pass. Trust me, you won’t regret this.
- Comfortable shoes.
Navigating the show
Get a map of the layout in advance.
Find the halls and areas of interest and walk through methodically.
Walk the aisles in a zigzag to make sure you don’t miss anything important.
The best gems are often hidden in the oddest places.
Spend a day exploring other areas that are outside of your interest because sometimes you still find hidden treasures and get great ideas.
You will find lots of different types of services being offered at the show like translation, negotiation, etc.
Steer clear of these temporarily. Focus on finding products and suppliers.
Using translation services are helpful if you find a product you’re very interested in.
But on the whole, look for suppliers that you can communicate well with on your own.
This will surely help you down the road with communications on orders.
Meeting and talking to suppliers
Always introduce yourself and have a brief chitchat and exchange of pleasantries.
Introduce the country and market you’re from.
Explain which products you’re interested in and start asking some basic questions.
What is the MOQ?
Do not make the first question you ask, “How much is this?”
Make the first question, “What is the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity)?”
Then start discussing various options or feature options that are possible on the product, you want to show some interest in the product and not just in the price.
Then start discussing, ask for the price based on their MOQ.
Clarify the terms
Find out the container loading of the product.
Asking about the container loading always makes factories feel that you’re a serious buyer interested in container loads.
It’s a strategic question.
Ask about optional features and additional costs.
It’s important to understand what the extra optional cost ups are on the product.
There might be additional features, colors, finishes, etc.
They can all affect the cost, and by asking this question the manufacturer will understand you know what you’re talking about.
They will often volunteer information to you about other possibilities that can enhance the product.
Once you’ve established this basic information you should ask other questions.
You could then get into deeper conversations with the factory and find out who their major market is.
You can ask their approximate production capacity and monthly production quantity that they ship out.
You can ask who their major customers are.
Any famous brands or retailers as customers is a helpful insight.
Just asking briefly if the factory has any accreditations or approvals, whether international or from large retailers, can be helpful information too.
Understanding the output volume in the market the factory sells in, will give you some insight into their capabilities.
Ask the manufacturer if they are aware of any regulatory and compliance requirements for that product in your market.
The question should be presented in a way that you’re asking if they’re aware of the compliance requirements because you’re testing them.
Not come across as if you’re asking them because you don’t know.
Always be honest, and if you’re not sure about the questions they ask just say, “I have somebody else in my company who deals with that. I’ll get the information for you,” or “I will check and let you know”.
You can ask additional questions like “when was the factory established?”, “how many workers do you have?” and so on.
Another tip is ask about the payment terms.
It’s always good to establish this up front and makes the supplier feel that you’re serious.
Try and establish if they’ll accept an LC and a small deposit, and be clear that you’re not going to be paying 100% upfront.
Some important DON’T’s when talking to manufacturers
Don’t immediately ask the price.
You can imagine everybody does exactly the same thing.
Showing more interest in the product will make them take you more seriously.
Of course, you ultimately get to the price within a short space of time.
Never let the manufacturer know you’re going to buy a small quantity or start off by presenting your company as a small business, or a start-up that’s been in business for a short period of time.
Avoid mentioning the turnover of your company as that might give away the size and scale which could be off-putting to some manufacturers.
You do have to talk things up. It’s important to be taken seriously.
Don’t place the order straight away.
Make sure you shop it out first and then consider if you can meet their MOQ.
If you can’t meet their MOQ follow up after the show, or go back to see them the following day and try to convince them to take a smaller quantity based on some kind of strategy or plan to test the market.
Don’t try this on the first or second conversation. Do it after you have some experience.
Some important DO’s
Let them know you have a buying office that handles your local communications on the ground in China and they’ll follow up at a later point.
This is a very helpful trick.
A big DO is to ask about their top products and who their customers are.
Factories are often very proud and happy to share with you that kind of information where they’ve been successful.
And this can also help you in the right direction of making a product selection, particularly if there’s a wide selection.
Understanding their top sellers is a very helpful tool.