The Canton Fair Experience: Hi, I’m Amy Wees and I just got back from the Canton Fair with Steven Selikoff and a group of amazing entrepreneurs. It was such an incredible experience to meet, in person, for the first time in China, all of these entrepreneurs, that I had been working with, in my business for sometimes six months to a year. And it was just amazing they had put this trust in Steven and I, to meet us in China and to be on this journey together. It was incredible to see them for the first time, and we had already felt like family because all of us had been working together for the last two months during our course, so it was cool to have them see each other for the first time, and having never met, and to already feel very much part of a family.
The Soluxe Hotel Guangzhou: We stayed at the Soluxe Hotel, the rooms were just incredible. They were beautiful. They had these amazing massage chairs. The location was right across the river from the Canton Fair Complex which was really great. It was outside of traffic, and the hustle and bustle of the Canton Fair. And then the food, oh my gosh, so amazing! Great buffet, lots of Western and Chinese food options.
Things to Do in Guangzhou, China: Of course, we had to be tourists on our trip so we spent the day at Baiyun Mountain, which is just outside of the city. And we got to ride these fun electric cars and do some walking and see some sights. Then we went to Chen Clan Academy which is a temple and museum that is just incredible. We just spent the day together seeing the sights and relaxing before the hustle and bustle of the Canton Fair itself. We went shopping, we ate awesome food together, and we just tried to experience all of the beauty and culture that is there. Learning chopsticks for the first time was really fun for some of our participants, and just seeing some of the things that are selling, in the markets, as well as some of the amazing buildings and hotels in the area, was really neat.
The Importance of Factory Visits during Canton Fair: Then we took them to two incredible factories that specialized in electronics products and even making toothbrushes. We wanted our participants to see how molds were made, how molds worked in operation, how the products came out of those molds, how logos were applied, and also what negotiation looks like when you’re ready to make a deal with that factory, how does spending the day with them and starting your business relationship feel and look. Our participants were just blown away at the experience of actually going and visiting the factory and seeing how products could actually be innovated. They weren’t so afraid when going to Canton Fair to request a factory visit because now they knew what a factory visit was all about. What they should look for when they go and what to expect during, what we call, the long dance of negotiation. We ate amazing lunch together with our factory and we enjoyed some great Cantonese cuisine which everyone loved. The best part about the electronics factory, the making of the keyboards, was that they had this awesome quality assurance process and really our participants got to see electronics being made.
Canton Fair Phase 2: Then it was time for the Canton Fair. So everyone have their buyer badges. They were so excited to walk around. And you could just see like 60,000 booths, several halls of information, and factories, and manufacturers, and it was just so awesome to see that and you can’t help but get excited about the potential for your business. You can see so many things and if you had to take it all in, it could be quite overwhelming.
“125th Canton fair we’re here with 20 entrepreneurs we’re having a great time it’s so exciting everybody’s finding amazing things they can’t find anywhere else.”
Sourcing at Canton Fair instead of Alibaba.com Also being able to touch and feel products and just really see them in person. It takes all of the long process of requesting samples online, and waiting for them, and wondering, you know, what that supplier would be like to talk to in person. It takes all of that away which is just so neat. You get to see the products yourselves, talk to them about it, inquire about samples, inquire about their factory, even scheduled a factory visit which is just the coolest part about it. And it’s really, you can’t replace it with any type of experience where you’re sourcing from home.
“The people you meet, people you talk, you negotiate directly with manufacturers, not through Alibaba or emails. You just get her to know. You see the product, you get to touch the products, to see the quality of it, and that’s what you need. That’s what you need to do. This is how it should be done.”
When you get to see all of these products and talk to suppliers, calculate the unit price and minimum order quantities, and spend this time together with a group, it’s just incredible. I mean, we were literally making brands as we walked the Canton Fair. It was just so cool to do this together and have that trust with each other in our group to be able to know like, “Hey, you want to come with me and help me look for this” or you know and we were sending messages together every day of “Hey, come over to this hall and look at this it’ll be great for this brand of yours”. And it was just great to have that, that trust and companionship with each other and know that we were here to make a difference for our businesses for the long run.
Types of Products at Canton Fair 2019: The things that you see at Canton are just awesome. I mean it’s all in one place and there’s no way that you could ever cover this much territory in one day at any other event, so it’s definitely worth a visit. And even from the first day that we went, our participants were saying, “Oh my gosh, I will be back. This is not the first time or the last.”
“When I came here I had the expectation, appointment back with five or ten products and I’m just on the second day, of the half of the second day and I already have more than 40 so it’s, it’s great!”
In the evenings, we had guest speakers so that our participants could enjoy dinner and ask questions together and then we would even host on demand masterminds about financing your business or whatever our participants wanted to know about.
The Pearl River flows through the center of Guangzhou and during the day it’s kind of boring but at night it completely lights up and becomes magical. All the hotels have these awesome LED displays and there’s lots of boats that float down the river all lit up. So it was a magical experience for our participants to be able to take pictures and just spend that time together before attending Canton and just really get to know each other and take great pictures. We really had a, just a great time and there was even this guy on the boat who created a banner for us that said the Canton Fair experience in Chinese. I highly recommend that if you go to Guangzhou that you take it an opportunity to enjoy the Pearl River cruise.
Canton Fair Networking Events and Guangzhou Nightlife: There are a lot of entrepreneurs and brands that go to Canton Fair every year, so we took some time to attend some of the networking events that are hosted. We had fun talking to other entrepreneurs about their businesses and what kind of exciting things they were finding it at Canton Fair, and just learning and networking together at these awesome events. Guangzhou is really beautiful by night. Our hotel recommended some great spots to take pictures, enjoy in the evening, and we even went out for Mexican food together. And the view was just incredible.
Guilin, China – Yangshou Mountain Retreat: Then we took a break in Guilin, China. We took a train ride there and it was just mystical and magical. We got foot massages, relaxed outside right by the river and experience the culture of this little town with these little shops and arts. And I definitely took home some beautiful souvenirs and art to hang up in my home. I really enjoyed everything about Guilin. It just gave me that refreshing relaxation moment that I needed to reflect on everything that I had experienced while I was in China.
Tips for attending the Canton Fair for First Timers: As you can see, a trip to the Canton Fair is worth it but it could be a little overwhelming for you first-timer, so let me give you some tips.
- The Canton Fair 2019 Experience Highlights and Tips for First TimersIt’s huge – 217 football fields worth of walking during each phase, so make sure that you wear comfortable shoes so that you can do it comfortably throughout the day.
- You’re going to want to bring a bag because when you meet with suppliers the first thing you’re going to do is exchange business cards with them, so when you bring your business cards, but then when you do that after you’re interested, they’ll want to send you home with a catalogue and you’re gonna want a place to carry all these catalogs. So many people really love having a small roller bag and others are okay with a backpack.
- A way to reduce the number of catalogues is to install WeChat on your phone. WeChat is a chat application that nearly all of China uses so with a simple scan of the app to your QR code, which allows you to share your information with a Chinese supplier. you can then chat with them and they can send you the e catalogue or digital version of the catalogue. So definitely install WeChat on your phone. The suppliers will love that you have it.
- Last, while you’re in that booth, make sure that you’re taking photos with your phone of the products that you’re interested in and make the last photo that you take be a selfie with that sales rep holding up their business card, or some of us take a notebook with us.
- We use the Canton Fair workbook and we write down their booth number and we staple their business card to it, and we take a picture with them with that booth number, so that later we would go through our phone and we can see, oh yeah that was that product, and we say oh that’s what that supplier look like, and you can even send them that photo of you and them together and they’ll remember meeting you and it will help your business relationship moving forward.