Navigating the Canton Fair for a first timer can be a little overwhelming. Especially since you cannot imagine the magnitude of this Fair and don’t know what to expect. Nonetheless, it is best to attend the Canton Fair prepared so you will be able to make the most out of your attendance. You certainly would not want to miss out on seeing more products and meeting more suppliers due to lack of preparation.
The aim is to ensure that you maximise your opportunity, knowledge and networking capacity with the suppliers and their product within the limited time you have. By preparing prior, you remove unnecessary distractions and are able to focus solely on what you are there for; to find reliable suppliers and great product to sell online
Here are some of the essentials you will need for yourself when attending the fair and dealing with the suppliers :
The Canton Fair occurs twice a year during the Autumn and Spring time of each year. The weather in Guangzhou during the Canton Fair is generally pleasant. This is especially for the Autumn Session which occurs in Oct. With temperature ranging from early to late 20˚c ,you can get away with wearing shorts, t-shirts and light jackets.
What to Pack/Wear (Apparel)
Like in any social situation, how you present yourself will determine how seriously you are taken as a buyer. For the fair purpose, it is advisable for you to wear neat casual clothes, to make a good first impression.
If you are attending daily for the duration of the fair, you will be walking a lot. We walked an average of 10 km daily over the course of 9 to 10 hours. Try to wear your most comfortable shoes and socks that will see you throughout the day.
Pazhou Complex is air conditioned and comfortable. However you might get a little chilly on the plane, the train or outside at night. A dress jacket is good as you can wear them both on the plane and at the fair.
What to Pack (Tools)
Exchanging business cards will be one of the most common things you will be doing in the fair. Nearly everybody you meet will give you their card and request for one from you.
For people at the fair, it is not just about showcasing their products and looking for prospective buyers. It is also about building a database of possible clients which they can engage with on a regular basis about their products or new innovation. You can purchase actual business cards and bring it with you or create one online. Further details on how to create a business card specifically for Canton Fair will be discussed in the next post.
The usefulness of a notebook will depend on what type of information collector your are . Ida is the information collector while Sam physically inspect the items. Information obtained from the suppliers are written on the catalogues provided by the supplier However, some of the smaller suppliers can only supply business cards, which means there are no room to write information, this is when a notebook is useful. Other useful variations include:
- Booklet with printed questions (or forms) you would like to ask the suppliers. Business card of each suppliers will be stapled onto each questionnaire
- a note book with section tab so all niches/sections are color coded and their information are stapled and information written on each section accordingly
We find stationery such as pen, and a stapler to be the most used items. You will be writing a lot, so having cheap problem free pen might help
You will see thousands of different products, thousands of different people, thousands of different booth. Camera helps you take as much photo and videos of products, the booth and the suppliers. Camera allows you to catalogue the product, look at it again once you get back to your hotel and keep it for future reference.
Because your phone battery doesn’t last all day long!
Bag/ Luggage with Wheels
You will get plenty of business cards, catalogues, and information from all these suppliers and carrying them all in a backpack/shoulder bag for 9-10 hours , 4-5 days is just being silly. Bring one of those hand luggage with good wheels and your back/shoulders will thank you for it.
You will get them on your first day and carry them with you at all times
Tips: Forget to bring any of these ? Don’t worry, you can easily find them in Guangzhou.
What you Also Need to Have…
Set of Questions to Ask Suppliers
Think about what type of questions you would like to ask the suppliers, related to the products. Yes, there will be some technical questions that vary between each products you see, how ever, the business related questions will remain the same. Further details on the questions to ask suppliers will be discussed in the next post.
Set of Answers on Your Capability
The suppliers you speak to will ask questions regarding the nature of your business. Questions like, what size business you are ? have you done work with Chinese suppliers before ? what is your role in this business ? . Just like you, they also need to know who they are dealing with. This is intimidating as a newbie so the best thing to do is be prepared. The Chinese sellers are slowly realising that not all lucrative business comes from Walmart or Target.
Make sure you know what your enterprise is capable of. Vague answer or not knowing can come across as unprofessional. It is okay to say with confidence of your business capability (even if it is small) and where you see yourself going. Remember, if one suppliers becomes disinterested due to your small capacity, there will be many more on the next booth and the next booth who will want your business.
Short Description of Who you Are
Also known as your 30 seconds elevator pitch. What you do that can be summed up in a few lines. You want to come across as a serious potential buyer,confident and business oriented, not a time waster. Keep it simple,avoid using fancy words, you are not pitching to win a tender . Your aim is to network effectively and efficiently with as many suppliers as possible. A very brief example:
“We are a health and fitness company selling dietary supplements online. We are looking for a new product to add to our existing collections”
Knowledge of What This is All About
While no one is expecting you to behave like an expert, it helps to be able to come across knowledgeable and interested rather than clueless. Learn commonly used abbreviations eg: MOQ, FOB, EXW, QA, LCL, SKU so you know what they are when being used in conversation.
Tips: Join forums and groups for online sellers and read articles about sourcing products from China to familiarise yourself with the industry jargon.