Is It Worth Attending A China Trade Show To Look For Manufacturers?

Should you attend a China trade show like the Canton Fair or Global Sources?

I think they’re really valuable. I’m going to tell you about my opinion of both of them and my personal experience and how I learned so much faster by going straight to China. 

I really think that even if you’re a beginner or you’re super advanced, you need to go to China. Because if you’re sourcing all of your products from there, you’ve got to go and see how the entire supply chain process works.

How are these factories doing that? Go and meet with good factories and bad factory. So, I’m going to be going over the whole process of going to China. 

Private Labeling Advice For Beginners

But first of all, I want to explain why beginners should go. Basically, the whole entire process of private labeling you can get done by just going to China.

So the typical private label process, you’ll find a product on Amazon, then you want to go in and try to find a supplier for it. You go to Alibaba and then you start.

You’re trying to weed out and find where the various suppliers are and who is not. Finding a good quality one and getting them to take you seriously.

So that’s a big part of it, going back and forth with them it. It can be really tough and going on Skype, stand up until 3:00 AM every day. That’s a really frustrating part of the process.

I know that it was for me and then, getting samples, going back and forth. Then choosing a quality one and then trying to iterate everything that you want.

It’s a feedback loop that can take several weeks, whereas if you go to China, you can get all of that done in one day. The best way that I’ve found that is by going through things like the Canton Fair or other trade shows like Global Sources. 

When I first got started selling private label, I decided like, “Okay, I’m going to go all in.” So, I did my research ahead of time and I was trying to do a bit online, but I was like, “I need to get and just go all in on this. What is the fastest way?”

Learn By Immersion

I think the fastest way to learn just about anything is doing total immersion. 

If you want to learn to swim, you don’t go and practice two or three times a week, read some podcasts on swimming and stuff.

No, you get in the pool and swim for six to ten hours a day. Just spend all your time in the water. You’re going to get real comfortable with swimming. You’re going to figure it out.

There’s stories of people going from completely afraid of the water to being a freaking dolphin (haha), like swimming out in the open water, doing triathletes or iron mans with that in just a couple of days.

That was kind of the concept that I had with selling on Amazon lists. I’m going to go. I didn’t know how to do it and I just flew to China, flew to the Canton Fair and I figured it out.

Benefits of Attending China Trade Shows

Product Research

Imagine you’re doing product research on Amazon and whatnot. Just imagine how easy it is when it’s a screen and you’ve got all these towns and it’s like, “Which one of these do I contact about?” It gets really overwhelming. 

But, when you’re there at the trade show, it’s just these products are just being served up to you. You can touch them. You could see them, probably ten times as fast. 

Instant Communication With Suppliers

Now, you don’t have to send a message and wait. You pick it up and you say “How much is it?”

You Really Weed Out Bullshit Pricing

Because when the suppliers see you at a trade show, they think that you’re a pretty big seller because you’re serious, like you’re not going to waste their time and so they’re not going to waste your time.

So, they actually give you pretty accurate pricing. 

There’s still a little bit of room because in China it’s kind of expected that you’re going to negotiate on the price. When they tell you a price, that’s about the price. So you can make an instant decision right there.

It’s not like in Alibaba where everybody’s got all these different prices and basically, a lot of suppliers will put a lower price so that you messaged them. But then, they message you back with a higher price.

There’s all that back and forth which can be discouraging to a new seller. So you’re going to save time on the communication flow and you save time on that pricing part. 

You Can Find Quality Suppliers

These people have paid $5 to $10,000 or more to get to these trade shows. They’ve had the shows and documentation that they’re real because these trade shows don’t want to bring a bunch of scammers there because they have to keep their reputation. 

By going to a trade show, you’re going to save. You can get just this epic feedback loop. And if you’re going to learn on anything, it’s really just comes down to getting feedback.

So hypothesis, you need to test it, and see did that work? Is this a good idea or whatnot? 

The longer that feedback loop is, the more likely you are to get distracted. 

You may get really excited about private label or even if you’ve got just a business that’s already up and running. With any new idea, you’ve got a thousand things that are competing for your time. You need to just have this really tight feedback loop. 

Not just China, but any process. If others could just give you what you want and it came into existence, you’d be like, “No, but that part isn’t right.” And then boom, that came into existence! And you’re like, “But that needs to be fixed.” 

If everything was like that, it would be awesome because you could just sit there and command the universe to become what you want.

This is the closest way to make that happen with your products and everything is just by doing all of that. So, you get that research done. You validate it right on your phone and see if it is good opportunity.

Now communicate with them, get the real price. Can we make money in that? Yes. Now let’s go to the factory and make sure that this is even a good supplier, but you’re there. They’re pretty vetted. And then go there, talk with them. 

Now you’ve made that relationship too. You’re going to get a deal and get better pricing. Then going into the future, you’ve got this instant reputation built because you’ve come all the way to China.

You’re showing them that you’re serious about this. It’s really the best way to get things done.

Presence of a Lot of Suppliers That Don’t Put Themselves on Alibaba

What they’ve noticed is, a lot of the bigger serious players are not using Alibaba to find their suppliers. They’re going to trade shows or they have purchasing agents going out.

They don’t need to go to Alibaba and some of them don’t even need to go to trade shows anymore. They’ve got all their capacity filled.

As things go on here, people know that these Chinese sellers know that private labelers are doing Amazon or that Amazon sellers are asking them.

Some of them, as they get more advanced, they don’t want to deal with beginners just because there are a lot of hiccups, a lot of training and the orders are small. It’s just the truth. 

As time goes on, to find the best suppliers for certain products, that experience gives you momentum into more advanced things. You’re going to want to go to China to find the really high quality products.

Now, if you’re just selling basic things that are physical, there’s no moving parts and whatnot, that’s not as important.

Because, how are they going to mess it up? It’s a mold. Fill this mold with silicone. Fill this mold with this type of plastic? It’s just basic assembly.

You don’t need to find the best manufacturer in the world. But, if you’re going to make an iPhone, like Foxconn, you would want a really good supplier. 

As things get more complex, finding that good supplier is really key. 

You Will Meet Other Like-Minded Sellers

They’re going to be working all day and then there’s meetups. So, if you go to the Canton Fair, Chris Davie has a really good meetup.

That’s where I met my mentor and that’s where I’ve met a bunch of people. That’s actually how I got asked to speak at Global Sources because of that meetup. 

I really suggest that people go to these because we’re affected extremely by the people that we surround ourselves with.

So you go, you get an instant feedback loop, you learn, you cut it out all the BS and you meet other like-minded sellers to help keep you motivated. I really can’t think of a better scenario to be successful and thrive. 

That’s what I did in my first time. I had known about private label and the whole process, but to put it all together and to make it happen I went to China. It didn’t all work on the first trip, but I learned so much.

I saw exactly how everything worked, what a factory looks like, how to inspect the factory. I was doing this all by myself. Just like literally going to factories and pretending I had a multi-million dollar business when I had nothing.

But they believed me and it worked. You’ve got to manifest things.

Accommodation and Transport

If you’re really serious, I suggest you go. It’s not that expensive. If you do it right, you can get like a $700 round trip. You can find $40 or $50 a night, AirBnB and stuff.

You can take public transportation for about $1,500. You can do $1,500 to $2,000 going to do one of these. 

The only thing is if you’re going to go to the Canton Fair, you’ve got to get a Chinese Visa. That takes some time and extra money. Whereas if you go to Global Sources, that’s just in Hong Kong. You don’t need a visa for that.

Or there are other trade shows you can go to. Also, there’s some in the US. 

I just suggest people that just go to wherever your suppliers are. Talk and make those relationships, get that instant feedback and it’s going to make your business a lot better and you better as a business person. 

I honestly believe that the fastest way to learn something is through total immersion. Increase your results exponentially by going to in person events. Thank you guys for reading!

Learn from my early failures in selling products on Amazon..