Taking part in a trade show which is as big as the Canton Fair can get quite overwhelming. At the fair, you will see numerous suppliers trying to showcase their products to grab your attention. With so much going on at the Canton Fair, it can be difficult to get past the whole day, particularly if it is your first time. To have a successful, here are ten tips you must definitely know!
- Bring a lot of name cards
All suppliers, as well as hawkers going on around the fair, will ask you to hand them a business card. So, when packing for the fair, make sure you pack plenty of business cards. As mentioned previously, list a secondary email address on the business card as these email address usually end up being mentioned in various Chinese mailing lists.
Make sure to have a spare box along too as most vendors don’t hand out their catalogs without seeing your business card first.
In China, installing WeChat is essential. It is a multi-purpose platform, and without the app, you will have difficulty with everyday tasks while you are in China. Primarily, it is used to connect with the suppliers and is the best form of communication.
- Backpack or roller suitcase
During the trade show, you are expected to receive a lot of catalogs and materials from different suppliers. In fact, if you arrive in the early hours of a certain phase, then suppliers might even give you large gifts like tea sets. Thus, you need something comfortable so that you can carry it along. Roller suitcases, particularly with four wheels are ideal as you can push them along. Don’t worry if you have a two-wheel roller bag; it is still better than having to carry around a briefcase in your arms.
Another benefit of having a backpack or suitcase with you is that you can store spare bottles of water in them. High-end hotels tend to give plenty of water bottles for free, so make sure to put them in the bag before you leave the hotel for the fair.
One question that many people have is about their attire, and they should dress up for the fair. There is only one answer to this, and that is to dress comfortably. The Canton Fair involves a lot of walking and not only around the show but also through the metro station and in queues which is why you should wear the most comfortable shoes. Certainly, the fair is not the place for breaking into your new shoes.
If your hotel doesn’t provide a shuttle service to the bus, it is best to plan your transportation beforehand. A day before the fair, familiarize yourself with the metro if you will be taking the train to the fair. Know the timings as well as the duration of the trip from the station to the fair so that you can start your day accordingly. You can also ask the hotel staff to guide you on the best way to get to the fair.
Before you go to the fair, it is best to make a rough itinerary outlining the way you intend to spend your time at the fair. As mentioned plenty of times earlier, the show is massive, and you will have to make use of your time efficiently. Therefore, you should visit the official website of the Canton Fair http://www.cantonfair.org.cn/en/index.aspx to plan the phase of the fair you wish to intend and how you will divide your time in between the different categories you’ll find in the phase. You can also go through the floor plan of the hall to plot a course and set time limits for each category.
- Use VPN or open international roaming
If you have a phone which is not carried locked and comes with the appropriate frequencies, then you should bring it along with you and buy a local SIM which will be of valuable use during the Canton Fair. Of course, there is Wi-Fi at the complex; however, it is quite unreliable and is very slow. Thus, with the SIM with you, you can make price comparisons and do product research while you speak to the vendor. This will help you save time that will otherwise be spent researching products after a tiring day at the fair. Plus, it isn’t bad to have access to apps like translators and maps outside the fair, so buying a SIM is a worthy investment.
You might already be aware that a majority of foreign internet services and sites are blocked in China by the Great Firewall. So, while in China, you will not be able to access websites like Gmail, Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps, etc. However, there is a way with which you can bypass these internet restrictions, and that is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN works as an intermediary connection which lets you access sites commonly blocked in China.
When it comes to selecting a suitable VPN that works in China, there are numerous options, and while some are free, you will have to pay a subscription fee each month for others. The availability of VPNs constantly changes as the government shuts these down someway so if you plan on using a VPN in China, make sure it is currently functioning in China before you leave.
Alternatively, you can also turn on international roaming as that will give you unrestricted access on the mainland.
- Don’t be afraid of asking anything
While the scale of the fair and the business possibilities and potentials available here can astonish you, remember that you must stay cold-blooded when making any important business decisions. The companies running booths in the Canton Fair aren’t necessarily trustworthy. In fact, in some cases trading company impersonate the real company while in other cases, an employee of a real company turns out to be a conman. Similarly, there are also cases where the documents and certificates shown to you are forged. Thus, before placing an order or before agreeing to attend a meeting, it is necessary to verify the company. The more you know the company, the safer your money is, and the only way to know more is to ask. Essentially, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask any questions at all.
Particularly, there are certain questions you must definitely ask. During the first meeting with the supplier, ask about a unit price quote. Also, ask the price with various quantity. Remember, this will only be a reference price and not the final price. Similarly, make sure to ask about the supplier’s payment methods. Many Chinese suppliers prefer a 30% deposit and a 70% balance before delivery. So, if you prefer to work with L/C payment, make sure you ask the supplier about that too.
Before you waste too much time with only one vendor, ask them about their minimum order quantities as well as if their MOQs would differ with different products. It is important to ask this question as some businesses here are large and only prefer dealing with sizeable orders. Finding a supplier that is willing to manufacture goods in your desired quantity will take some time, and you will have to question many suppliers before you find someone.
Lastly, make sure to ask about their shipping arrangements, the point at which the ownership of the item will change during the whole process, important certifications, the experience they have had in the industry, their biggest market and client, product safety and return rates, and the lead time. It is best you write down all your questions, so you don’t miss out any important ones.
- Hire a translator when necessary
Traveling internationally to a place where you don’t speak the local language can be quite terrifying. The good news is, Guangzhou is set up well for English speakers. Announcements and signs are translated into English, and in restaurants, you will either find pictures or an English translation of the items which you can point at to the staff when it is time to place your order.
When it comes to the fair, most booths will have a staff member that speaks basic English at least. In fact, you will find young students and graduates at many booths. So, if English is your native language, then you don’t really need to hire a translator to ask the vendor common questions you might have. Try keeping your speech as basic and possible and avoid sarcasm and colloquial expressions.
However, if your accent is fairly strong or English isn’t your first language, then it is better to hire a translator. When hiring one, make sure you check the knowledge of the translator. Ask about the past experience the person has with interpretation at the Canton Fair. Also ask about the knowledge he has about the city, as well as the business and exports.
Hiring a translator. you can ask the organizers to get you connected with interpreters After you register with the Canton Fair. Alternatively, you can look online for people offering interpretation services during the fair. You will also find numerous translators outside the Canton Fair that are waiting to be hired. So, you can also talk to them and select on you find suitable.
Generally, for an 8-hour day, you can easily get an interpreter in under USD $100. However, if you want an interpreter for longer, you can negotiate accordingly. Usually, you won’t need the translator after 6 pm as that is when the fair gets over.
- Apply for Canton Fair online in advance
While it is not required to do so, it is still best if you register for it beforehand. If you decide to register at the fair, then you will have to pay 100 RMB which roughly makes up USD $20. So, registering beforehand will help you save that $20.
Plus, if you register in advance, then you will be informed about the importance of bringing along a passport picture and a physical copy of the badge registration. If you forget to bring those items, then it isn’t too much of a problem. You can do both the things at the show; however, you will have to pay $5 for the picture and stand in line too.