Trade Fairs in China

Top Tips for Sourcing Products at Trade Fairs in China


You probably might have heard it more than once; “China is set to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy in the 21st century.”

A large part of China’s economic success has been due to its incredible manufacturing industry, which makes it a nexus for business people and entrepreneurs to source products – and one of the best places to find products is at one of the many trade fairs that take place in China.

Here is a quick overview of what you’ll learn here:

What's Mistakes to Avoid for Sourcing Products at Trade Fairs in China?

Here are some common mistakes that you can avoid

when attending trade fairs in China:

Do not commit to any supplier unless you’re fully satisfied after weighing your options.

Do not waste your time talking to unqualified suppliers.

Do not concentrate on prices; it’s important to get reference quotation.

Do not forget to follow up on suppliers.

Why Should You Go to Trade Fairs in China?

While online sites such as Alibaba, and Global Sources are well known for sourcing products, attending trade fairs in China can be an excellent way to:

Easily and quickly meet good suppliers while weeding out the bad ones.

Meet face-to-face with suppliers, interact, build a relationship and trust.

Check out and explore various samples in real life, products, and services

Learn about new products and trends.

Instead of emailing or communicating on social media with a Chinese supplier, just imagine the amount of precious time you’ll save by speaking with the supplier face-to-face.

Attending trade shows in China will save you the stress of having to wait for days, weeks or months on end to get a sample delivered.

Sourcing from China can be as easy as walking from trade fair section to section, viewing samples, asking various questions about the products, and signing deals right in the trade booth, while at the same time interacting and creating business relationships with suppliers.

What do I need Preparing for The Trade Fairs?

Do yourself a huge favor by following these trade fair preparation tips as they’ll help you maximize the benefits of attending trade fairs in China:

Pre-register online and print the confirmation code. This will basically help you at the trade fairs as you’ll easily breeze your way past long and winding registration queues like a VIP.

Research and learn about the suppliers or exhibitors who offer the products or services that you need.

Contact your highlighted suppliers/exhibitors before you travel. This will give you an advantage over other attendees at the fairs in the sense that you shall have cultivated some relationship with the suppliers beforehand.

Which is the Best Practices for Attending Chinese Trade Fairs?

Here are some basic tips for when you are walking around trade fairs in China.

Bring boxes of business cards and know how to properly and respectfully present them to the suppliers– for example, use both your hands when presenting the cards.

Treat the business cards that you give out or receive with care because it shows that you’ll take utmost care of the business relationship.

Come with a friend or a partner as an extra “set of eyes” to ease any overwhelming pressure off you, especially during negotiations.

Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.

Bring an easy-to-carry bag to the trade fairs. If you expect to collect many samples, consider bringing a small four-wheeled luggage.

Come with a full detail of the products and services that you need for instance, pick about 3 to 5 products that you’d want to look at in detail as this will enable you manage your time better.

Get to the trade fair early.

Avoid last day rush.

Use your smartphone to take lots of pictures. You will have a difficult time recalling all the products and suppliers at the end of the day.

Talk to the most senior person in the booth (he/she is probably the manager).

It’s important to arm yourself with a few travel tips before you consider hopping on to the next flight to Beijing, Guangzhou, or Shanghai.

Whether you’re an experienced traveler or a first-time traveler, it’s vital to remember that a trip to China can be frustrating and intimidating.

These are the most important tips for travelling to China:

  • Get your proper visa ahead of time
  • Learn a few Mandarin words
  • Learn about the biggest touristscams
  • Get a VPN before arriving in China. A VPN allows users to unblock websites and apps that are censored in China, such as Google, Youtube, and Whatsapp
  • Bring a breathing mask in case of air pollution

The Most Popular Trade Fairs to Attend

Trade Fairs

Most trade fairs in China are held twice every year; in the Fall (October to November) and in the Spring (April to May).

Most of these trade fairs last for the entire month with each segment or phase lasting for about three to five days.

These phases are typically organized into categories, for example: Phase one is about electronics, phase two is about gifts and home goods, and phase three is about clothing and fashion etc.

Some of the most popular trade fairs to attend in China include;

Communicating with Chinese Suppliers

It’s crucial to keep in mind that communication is of much importance during these trade fairs.

It’s true that English is a commonly used second language in China, but imagine how your trip can be a success if you’re able to communicate with the suppliers in Mandarin Chinese!

It’s advisable to get a translator and focus on guanxi (cultivating relationship) if your sourcing requirements are substantial or complicated.

If you have to speak in English, it’s advisable that you use simple terms, speak slowly, smile and mind your body language.

All these are crucial in building a positive rapport with the suppliers.

Dealing with Suppliers and Having a Strong Pitch

It’s important to get suppliers to notice you by making a good pitch and first impression.

Some suppliers may brush you aside if they get the impression that you’re a small volume buyer.

That’s why you have to play it big, make a good impression, and persuade the supplier to pay attention.

When negotiating with a supplier, you should make sure that he/she has the ability to perfectly supply the products that you need.

You should also showcase your ability to buy, your experience and potential as a future client. In this way, a supplier will see you as being valuable and would want to deal with you.

Questions to Ask Suppliers

Some of the questions that you might find useful to ask suppliers include:

  • Do you manufacture product a, b or c?
  • What other products do you manufacture?
  • Which countries do you export to?
  • What quality system do you use?
  • Can you customize products for me?
  • What are your prices and volume of production?

Be careful of suppliers that seem to be able to say “yes” to every request, as they may be bending the truth in order to secure your order.

Consider deliberately throwing in some impossible requests to make sure suppliers aren’t blindly responding“yes” to everything.


Attending a trade fair in China can be very beneficial for your business.

You’ll not only get to meet suppliers, interact with them, and negotiate with them face-to-face, but you’ll also get the opportunity to sample various products while learning about new trends.

However, without the above-mentioned tips, your trip to China may not be as successful as you’d want it to be.

Therefore, it’s crucial to keep all the tips in mind as you plan, attend, and follow up on a China trade fair trip.

About The Contributor:

Rachel Mok is a Chinese-Canadian writer with a passion for technology. When she isn’t writing about the latest in startups and business in China at Startup Living China, she can be found traveling around the world, trying new recipes in the kitchen, and relaxing with a good book.