Who Should Not Go to the Canton Fair?
We are only a few months away from April, and the start of the 60th year of what has been China’s signature event for its exporting industry. The Canton Fair is China’s largest and most comprehensive trade show. There should be no reason to miss this event if you are a serious importer, or someone who has been doing business with China on a regular basis. It is literally a sea of opportunity; a heaven for people who wish to find that proverbial needle in a haystack.
However, as someone who understands the importance of managing resources, and keeping importing costs down, it helps to know whose needs are best served by such an immense trade fair. A common impression for would-be importers, is that since this is such a large event, then it would not hurt to book a plane ticket, and just try your luck. You know, just swing by and start winging it! Although striking gold on your first try cannot be discounted, I think doing so would be more like attracting a school of hungry fish, by wagging some bait in one hand, and trying to catch one with the other, while they are in a feeding frenzy. It is not as easy as it looks. In fact, you could get bitten if you get the wrong fish to come.
Kick the can down the road if you are a small business owner, or a startup with limited resources. This is a megaevent. It is in every Chinese entrepreneur’s dream to participate. Stiff competition among exhibitors jack up the average cost of owning a booth to around US$25,000. If you still do not have large order quantities, and if your ideal supplier is a small business like yours, then attending the Canton Fair may not be advisable. You could be better off going to a wholesale market.
Another common mistake is when importers get too excited about their find, easily impressed by appearances. Finding a supplier is one thing, dealing with one is another. You may not make a good fit. Furthermore, it is on you as the buyer to establish inspection standards and quality control measures.
If you are still intent on going to this year’s event regardless of your qualifications, then you are better off getting help. Assistance can be invaluable if you get the right kind. Your trade assistant can take care of the nitty-gritty, and relieve you of the details like, accommodations, or knowing Chinese business etiquette. A qualified expert alongside you, can turn your adventure into a productive business trip, rather than just another pleasant but unintended leisure trip.