So you now have completed your Canton Fair Visits and found a few possible products. Now you are back home looking at all these catalogues, business cards and perhaps wondering…. what’s next? . After our first Canton Fair visit, we felt like, we came back feeling more confused than ever. It’s like, we wanted choices and ideas, but this is way too many! And the worse thing is… every product we saw, sounded like a great idea. We went trying to find 2 or 3 possible ideas, we ended up with 50.
This is when we realised that going to the Fair is only a small piece of the puzzle, albeit an important one. But our work has only just begun. Over time, we have fine-tuned our ‘After Canton Fair’ routine to ensure we don’t experience too much down time between the fair and launching our products.
Go Through All the Catalogues
Once you are home and the dust has settled, take time to sit through all the catalogues you have received. This is because, sometimes, you find additional information from the catalogues. For instance, various models of the product you saw at the fair or products offered by the suppliers that may not have been showcased. Going through the catalogues would be your last window shopping before you truly start to short list your products.
Go Through Notes, Photos and Videos of Products
This is a good time to start looking at your collections of videos and photos and start expanding on the notes you have taken during the fair. Your photo and videos are great resources during your product development. This is where you start looking at ways to improve the product, modification you want to have- among other things.
Tip : Read reviews on similar products on Amazon or other platforms , use the videos/photos and the reviews to find a way to make your products better
Short List Products
Let say, if you plan to start introducing 2 products to the market, shortlist 5 or more. There will be other reasons through your product research phase that may put you off pursuing these products.
Research Your Products
You may think, why should I do more research? I have been and seen. Let’s get going! There are many things to consider after seeing and shortlisting. Make sure you have covered your country’s (or the countries you are selling to) legislative requirement, certification for importing and selling your products. Also, if you are selling on Amazon, make sure you have done your keyword searches, your product profitability, sales data on other competitors and most importantly, that you have been ungated and approved by Amazon to sell the product. You will find that, once you go through these due diligence, your initial shortlist lists will get shorter and shorter.
Contact Your Suppliers
So now your list of product may be a little smaller and neater and that is good. Because now you can focus on finding the right supplier for these products. Start contacting these suppliers you met at the Fair and get right into product enquiry and sample requests. If need be, ask them the same questions you have asked when you met them in your first email. Sometimes we find this helpful as things may have changed since you last spoke with them. This actually happened to us once. Along the way while we were negotiating on the product, they have decided that the product that were in discussion were no longer being produced. They were taking time to redesign a newer and better product for the new year, which meant the prices and the MOQ has since changed as well.
Once you have shortlisted the supplier, start asking for samples. Sometimes it may not be as cut and dry. Those who wants customised products , who may have spent hours studying photos and videos from the Fair, you may already have your modification by now and you want the sample to be exactly like how you would sell it. This is the best time. Be prepared to pay a bit for customised sample. Those who aren’t looking for customisation, this is easier. Some suppliers offer free non-customised samples, all you have to do is pay for shipping fees.
Once you receive your sample, try it, use it, do a user experience review on it. Don’t be surprised if your product is not what you ask for the first time. Again, if you do customisation, sometimes it takes 3 tries or more to get what you want. Be patient and be specific with your suppliers until you get what you are after.
Tip : See if your suppliers would accept sample fees using Paypal. If the supplier ended up trying to scam you, you are able to request for a refund from Paypal.
Picking Final Product to Develop and Sell
During sample acquisition phase, you will receive a very well done sample or you will receive some shockers. This is how you find that some suppliers are serious about doing business with you while others a complete waste of time and money. This is also when you find that, the product you have in your head in all its modification awesomeness glory, sometimes will cost you 3 times the initial quote at the Fair. You will start removing from your list all non-possible product until you find 1 or 2 that truly worth your time to properly develop.
Once that is done, now is a good time to develop the product as a whole, from the product is self, to packaging and branding. Once that is done and you are happy with your prototype, it is time to make your first full order.
As we are getting closer to the end of the Canton Fair series, don’t forget to check the Canton Fair posts every Wednesday for the remaining few weeks to access more resources, tips, videos and how-to’s.