Ideally, by now, you would have picked to stay in a hotel that offers a free shuttle. You also have picked or plans to pick your buyer’s badge at the hotel as soon as you arrive. If you have done this, great job. All you need to do now is walk into the entrance and scan your badge for entry and start exploring.
However, if you have done neither, fret not. We have included instructions for badge pick up and options to get to Pazhou Stadium. Not only that, we will also touch on Canton Fair etiquette in this article.
On Fair Day
If you have to pick up your Buyer’s Badge onsite and take the public transportation to the Fair, information is as follows:
Register & Pick Up Buyer’s Badge: Overseas Buyer’s Registration Office is available at the entrance of each area. Come early or you will be waiting a while to get your paperwork sorted. Make sure to bring your invites and passport for this. Buyers Badge is free for the first time around and can be used over and over again. You must not lose it. However, shit does happen and we lose things, that’s life. To have your card reissued, simply pay RMB200 ($A41)
Take the Train to Canton Fair: Pazhou Complex is located on Metro Line 8. You can choose to stop at Xinggang Dong Station (take Exit A) which will be the entrance to Area A or Pazhou Station (Exit B or A) to start the fair from Area B. Don’t worry about getting lost, there are plenty of signs and Canton Fair staff wandering around the area who will be able to assist.
Take the Shuttle Bus to Canton Fair: The hotel and free shuttle bus has a different drop-off and pick up area. Make sure to confirm this with your driver on the day
Take Taxi to Canton Fair: Canton Fair address in Chinese is 广州国际会议展览中心, 广州市海珠区阅江中路382号.
Canton Fair Exhibition Area
To give you an idea of how big the fair is, 2017 Canton Fair had 60,400 booths, occupying 1,185,000 m² of space. Giving that figure a bit of a perspective, that equates to 62 times the size of Etihad Stadium Ground Area. If you spend 5 minutes on every single booth, it will take you a total of 209 days straight 24/7 to complete this.
So now we got that out of the way, let’s move on.
The fair is divided into 3 areas, Area A, B and C. Area A & B has 2 Levels for exhibitions. Good thing is, all niches are grouped together. So if you do go to ‘Lighting Equipment’ hall, all the booths there will pretty much showcase everything within that niche. The length of the exhibition area (the whole of Pazhou Complex) stretches from Xingang Dong Station to Pazhou Station.
The exhibition is equipped with plenty of facilities. They are mostly located in the middle of the complex and at the basement. You can easily find toilets, ATMs, food places, prayer room, First Aid offices, Luggage Storage and Interpretation Services Centre. There are also travelators to cover the length of the complex for your convenience.
In the map available on site, categories are color coded for easy access and reference. Each of the halls are numbered and the numbers are displayed outside of the hall. There are also additional signboards with hall numbers and category information for reference. If you are looking for a particular supplier, a supplier directory is also located at the front of the exhibition hall with the suppliers’ information and booth number (in English)
Rest, Eat and Drink Area
The Canton Fair has 3 large food courts as well as food and drinks outlet all around the complex. There is a wide variety of food to cater to various dietary requirements. The last time we counted, there were 4 McDonalds, Starbucks Coffee, 3 Papa John Pizza, Halal Food stalls and over 20 other food stalls and cafés. The food joints around Pearl Promenade has an outdoor sitting area which is great. We tend to take our breaks here just to get some sun and discuss our findings so far. The prices for the food here are more expensive than outside prices however the portions are huge. So we only restrict ourselves with purchasing lunch here and bringing in our own snacks bought from Walmart or 7/11.
Trade Show Etiquette
As always, it helps to extend common courtesy to people you have just met who could also potentially be your supplier. Is it given right? But you would be surprised by the number of people at the Fair who are rude and unkind. Sometimes We understand that people get a bit weary of dealing with Chinese Suppliers ( us too). Some have even been scammed by one. But that’s not a reason to treat them all like a criminal. Here are some of the customary things one would expect to do and see at the fair.
Exchange Business Cards
This is the most common exchanges that occur at the fair. You enter a booth, look at products, speak to the representative and at some point, you will be asked for your business card. They will also provide you with theirs. They will take a few minutes to read your card and perhaps ask you about your position and about your business.
If you are keen on a product or a supplier, take the time to introduce yourself and your business. We find that, if you show interest, they will be keen to talk about their products. Booth visit outcomes are generally excellent when both parties are on the ball. Sometimes the products are just a ‘maybe’ for you. That is fine, use this an opportunity for improvement for you. The more suppliers you speak to, the more confident and relaxed you are when it comes to dealing with The one.
Wait for Your Turn
Sometimes a booth can be extremely busy. With 5 to 6 buyers waiting to be served with only 2 reps. Be patient and wait for your turn. Listen in to the conversation, sometimes they ask questions you never thought of asking. If you simply can’t be bothered waiting, come back. Either way, butting in or being rude because you think they are there to serve you and you only is not on. You only upset the suppliers and other buyers for no reason.
It’s OK to Tell Them you are Not Interested
Every now and again, you will come across booths with hyperactive, super eager representatives. They are so excited about promoting their product that they speak to everybody! If the product is not your niche, you can tell them nicely that ‘this is not what I sell’. They understand, won’t push further and will leave you alone. Like you, some of the representatives also take this opportunity to practice their English and communication skills
Photo/Videos of Products
Majority of suppliers are good with buyers taking photos and videos of products. For every product we are interested in, we take hundreds of photos and videos, covering every angle. However, it is always polite to ask. Some bigger companies don’t allow photos, they get really shitty about it as well (seen one that forces a buyer to delete their photos), which can be embarrassing. So, it is always polite to ask.
We have seen people who do it on the spot. Mostly, people almost never negotiate prices and close the deal on the spot. Unless if you are buying existing stocks from the suppliers. You do however get a quote based on their minimum order quantity or more. Most of the times, you will have certain changes and customisation in mind which you discuss with your suppliers. Perhaps, negotiate on given pricing once you have more idea on what you are after.
Samples are rarely made available for sale during the fair. However, some suppliers do take pre-orders of samples. Majority of the suppliers will arrange your own samples to be delivered to you once the Fair has ended.
There is no better time to ask about products specifications than at Canton Fair. But be nice, they normally have all the specs information you need. Some buyers would say out loud how inferior they think the products are. If you are not happy with the sample they provided at the fair, yes chances are your end result would be the same if not worse. So, instead of giving that supplier a hard time, go to booths that showcase a better quality product. You will find that the prices are also twice or three times more expensive. Ultimately, great quality products do exist in China, but getting it at a competitive cheap price only occurs with large purchasing power.
Visiting the same booth to further inspect a product and ask more questions are common. This way you are showing the suppliers that you are genuinely interested and are a serious buyer. This also helps in creating a closer relationship with them which will continue via email, Skype or We Chat.
If it’s a product you are likely to pursue, it is expected that you follow up right away with suppliers via email or We Chat. Also, expect series of emails from other suppliers you share your business cards with. If you do not want your phone to be bombarded with suppliers WeChatting you, make sure you only share your information with the suppliers you have shortlisted.