The Very First ONLINE Canton Fair – Everything You Need to Know!
The online Canton Fair is upon us and you want to learn how to source products in the best possible way from this online fair – this is the blog article for you!
As we all know well due to the current quarantine situation we find ourselves in, the 127th Canton Fair which is the world’s largest import export fair is going online for the first time with more than 25,900 exhibitors showing millions of products!
Most Amazon sellers who work from home are used to purchasing their products from alibaba.com. This is fine, however, Alibaba is more of a platform for beginners. The best suppliers in China do not operate there.
In short, this is because the best suppliers in China already have great customers and their production is always in demand, therefore they do not need to list their products on Alibaba in order to get orders (they have enough customers coming to them already). They also don’t need to pay a platform like Alibaba a service fee when they can be selective which customers they work with.
It’s like having a donut shop with lines around the corner – why pay for Facebook ads when your store is full anyway?
That’s not to say they don’t want to work with you, not all the suppliers are full. Additionally, manufacturers always respect the buyers who come to China. This shows you are a serious buyer and serious about doing business, not someone who is looking for free samples online.
But now that the Canton Fair has gone online, this has presented a massive opportunity for the everyday seller who doesn’t usually travel to China. Now YOU get access to the best suppliers too.
Be warned, this is not the easiest website to navigate. The Canton Fair is a government run organization and clearly they are not as skilled in building e-commerce platforms as they are running a country!
How to Register
Now there are two ways to register for the Canton Fair.
If you’ve been to a canton fair before you will have your blue badge which you can use the number on that badge to register.
If you’ve never been before, you can register online but be warned, they will require your passport number and possibly photo identification. Don’t be alarmed as to why they require such personal info, the Chinese government takes their export business very seriously.
On day one of the online Canton Fair I could still not register as the website was still undergoing upgrades and maintenance. Don’t be alarmed if you can’t register properly, you can still navigate the website without registering but you have to register in order to communicate with the suppliers. Hopefully this issue is fixed by the time you are reading this!
How it Works
If you have a pre-existing supplier you know will be exhibiting and you want to connect with them, you can enter their company name and/or booth number. They will know this information in advance and can send it to you upon request.
You can also submit your request for what you’re looking for and the system will match exhibitors for you. Don’t forget to check out the supply and demand hall.
There will be an instant messaging service as well as Chinese to English translation so hopefully communication will be smooth. Don’t forget that if your conversation is going well, to take a note of their WeChat ID and email address so that you can later move communication to email after the fair is over.
It’s important to have the key information such as price, quality, specifications, testing, and agreed MOQ confirmed in email and not just on a messenger platform that will disappear once the fair is over.
If you feel a particular supplier you like will be a good partner for your business you can also schedule to talk face-to-face by making an appointment.
This is very beneficial for many reasons:
- To see that they are who they say they are
- To perhaps get a view of their showroom depending on if they are taking the meeting by phone or computer
- To see any samples you have been discussing
There is also an option to see live streams from exhibitors in the fair, subscribe to them, as well as replay later on.
A Little Cheat Code for You
Make sure you scroll to the bottom and click the CF Award button in Conference Services. You will be taken to a virtual hall of innovation and design awards for this Canton Fair. This is one of my favorite rooms to check at the real Canton Fair and it is neatly hidden between halls A and B, so not many people know about it!
Here you can get ideas for new products as well as see what are the new products across different categories that the suppliers are working on. It works just like Google street maps – just double click on the door to go in and then digitally walk around the room.
If you’re like me and you like to develop products at the Canton Fair and not just buy products, I made a video from the last Canton Fair. It shows you how it actually looks inside and how I develop products in the fair. This should help you for your product development too. There is also a video on my channel about the top 10 questions you should be asking your manufacturers!
One more thing I wanted to add is if this is your first time, don’t be nervous or worried. These people are extremely helpful, fun, and also like interacting with people from other countries. They are passionate about doing business just like you and me.
This should be a fun experience for everyone involved, so don’t be worried and don’t worry about messing up. There’s over 25,000 exhibitors there, so if it doesn’t work you, just move onto the next one.