The business sector is experiencing major disruption this year, no thanks to the global health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to ongoing global travel restrictions related to the pandemic, China’s largest and most comprehensive international trade fair, the Canton Fair in 2020 or China Import and Export Fair, will now be held online for the first time in its 62-year history.
Above all, technology will be the focus of the online Canton Fair as much as the products and services that will be showcased.
1. Save Much Travel Cost
Being an all-online event, Canton Fair 2020 removes the cost, travel, and time restrictions for attendees. Businesses don’t have to spend anything at all on travel costs to participate in the fair. Also, attendees won’t have to take time off from personal and business concerns to travel to China.
2. Trade on the Quality Platform
Instead of being held at the Guangzhou International Convention & Exhibition Center as in previous years, this year’s edition of the Canton Fair will take place entirely in an online trading platform integrated into its official website.
Accordingly, leading Chinese tech company Tencent serves as the technical service provider of the online event, offering technical and cloud support. The company wants to ensure that buyers and sellers can safely do their business transactions on this all-digital platform.
3. Participate Anytime, Anywhere
Participating in the fair is convenient. As the platform is open 24 hours every day during its 10-day run, buyers and sellers can join anytime and wherever they are where there’s internet connectivity.
4. Communicate and Negotiate More Efficiently
Morever, the online platform allows for virtual face-to-face interaction for better and more efficient communication and negotiation between parties, without the offline event’s visual and noise distractions.
5. Know about the Industry’s Latest Products and Technologies
Still true to its distinction as China’s largest trading event, the Canton Fair features an extensive line-up of the latest products, services, and technologies. Thus, 25,000 companies are expected to participate, featuring a staggering 400,000 products and services.
II. When will the Online Canton Fair be Held?
Canton Fair Dates Spring 2020:
Initially scheduled for April 15th to May 5th, the Canton Fair will be held online from June 15th to 24th, 2020.
Canton Fair Dates Fall 2020:
The Canton Fair will be held online from October 15th to 24th, 2020.
2. Canton Fair Phrases
- Electronics & Household Electrical Appliances
- Lighting Equipment
- Vehicles & Spare Parts
- Hardware & Tools
- Building Materials
- Chemical Products
- International Pavilion
- Consumer Goods
- Home Decorations
- Textiles & Garments
- Office Supplies, Cases & Bags, and Recreation Products
- Medicines, Medical Devices and Health Products
- International Pavilion
III. What’s New in the Online Canton Fair?
This will be the first-ever virtual Canton Fair. Tencent created an online international trade platform for products in 16 major export categories.
In that case, the company will be using WeChat, Tencent Cloud, Tencent Conference, Enterprise WeChat, Translator Jun, Enterprise, and other products and services as part of the online ecosystem supporting the international trading platform.
1. Online Exhibition Distribution
① Export Exhibition
25,000 companies will be part of the export exhibition which will be divided into 50 exhibition areas with 16 product categories:
Electronics and household appliances, lighting, vehicles and accessories, hardware tools, machinery, building materials, chemical products, energy, daily consumer goods, gifts, textiles and clothing, footwear, home decorations, office, luggage and leisure products, food, medicine, and medical care.
126th Canton Fair
② Import Exhibition
Around 400 companies from about 30 countries and regions will be part of the import exhibition, divided into 6 product categories: electronics and home appliances, building materials and hardware, machinery and equipment, food and beverage, household items, fabrics, and home textiles.
2. Online Integrated Display Docking
Advanced information technology will power the 127th Canton Fair. A comprehensive online display docking platform will be integrated on its official website, where exhibitors will display their products and services. The platform is capable of providing 24-hour services for all-weather online promotion, supply and purchase docking, online negotiation, and others. Buyers can also view previous videos and streams, and share these and make comments on them.
① Display of Company Credibility Background Information
Extensive exhibitor information will be made available on the platform. Buyers will have sufficient background information on possible business partners, which they can use to make buying decisions.
② Multi-form and Multi-dimensional Display of Enterprise and Product Information
In effect, buyers can access information on 400,000 products and 25,000 companies, which will be displayed online through text, photos, video, live streaming, 3D, VR, and other display media.
Products will have a multi-angle appearance display, functional icon, text introduction, specifications and technical information, corporate text introduction, and actual pictures. Furthermore, product information will include Chinese and English name and product description, with rich and diverse display content.
③ Set-up of VR Booth
Virtual Reality (VR) technology transports users to a simulated environment. Using the concept of “smart venues,” Tencent Cloud Convention and Exhibition will unveil a diversified online venue experience, including visitors’ face entry, online walking, intelligent guidance, among others.
④ Search Function
Buyers can inquire about products and exhibitors contained in the platform’s comprehensive database of exhibitors and products.
The powerful search function enables buyers to inquire about products and suppliers using relevant keywords, searches thus can be made using the following: Category/ Product keywords/ Company name/ Booth number
⑤ Support Suppliers and Buyers to Publish Supply and Demand Information
The online platform will be highly dynamic, able to publish supply and demand information, as well as ready to match buyers and suppliers. On the other hand, Tencent Cloud Convention and Exhibition uses smart search and recommendation to match demand.
Background information for both parties of the transaction will include the status of buyers’ participation, registration origin, past exhibitors’ participation, whether they are Canton Fair brand enterprises, and other information.
⑥ Multilingual Translation Support
Multilingual translation support will be made available on the platform to make communication easier between exhibitors and buyers.
3. 10-day 24-hour Live Marketing Service
Tencent will provide a 24-hour online live broadcast room for each exhibitor for the 10-day duration of the fair. In this broadcast room, businesses can promote products and have group meetings or one-on-one talks.
① Conduct Individual Video Negotiation
Face-to-face negotiations will be done virtually via video conferencing, with the help of instant messaging and intelligent translation services.
② Join in Public Live Broadcast Events
You can join public events that will be broadcast live, where enterprises can publicize and promote their goods and services to global merchants.
③ Video Playback, Sharing, and Interactive Functions
Unlike the actual offline exhibition, you can review the fair’s events through the platform’s video playback function. You can also make your opinions and suggestions known via the platform’s sharing and interactive features.
4. Third-party Platform Synchronization Activities
There will be third party-platforms that will broadcast other activities related to the Canton Fair.
① Establish Cross-border E-commerce Zone
The 127th Canton Fair will build a cross-border e-commerce comprehensive test zone. “Synchronous Canton Fair, Global Business Opportunities” will be the theme of domestic third-party cross-border e-commerce platforms.
② Hold Synchronized Events
Other synchronized online events will be held, such as online forums that will include international trade development forums and industry thematic forums, online contracting (local and foreign), and new product launches.
IV. How to Participate in the Online Canton Fair?
1. Register Account and Log in
Firstly, you should register a new account online on the Canton Fair’s official website.
Participating companies can log in to the online platform using the account number of the original Easyjet system. Buyers and visitors (local and foreign) can enter the online platform via the fair’s official website.
Click the buyer’s guide for more, know how to become a buyer, how to get business oppotunity, how to start an effective communication and etc.
2. Choose a Supplier
① Conduct a Suppliers Search
Do your supplier search using the platform’s search tools. You can search by category, product keywords, company name, or booth number.
② Type the Product Name
Type the product name if you know the exact name, or use relevant product keywords.
③ Narrow the Search Results
Narrow down your search by filtering according to your criteria, using specific product characteristics until you find the exact product you want.
④ Check Preferred Suppliers
Scroll down the list of suppliers and carefully check their details. Choose the supplier that stands out, and you want to have a meeting on the platform.
3. Review Panoramic Showroom
Next, enter the supplier’s live broadcast room to view its products and services, and take note of the information displayed. If the supplier places access restrictions on its room, visitors must apply to get an invitation code to enter.
4. Contact the Supplier
As long as you like what you see in the showroom, contact the supplier to arrange a virtual one-on-one meeting to ask for more information, if needed, and to negotiate terms.
5. Request Detailed Video Guide Tour
Also, request a detailed video guide tour to get more information about the product you want to buy.
6. Ask for Sample Arrangement
When online negotiations go well, you can ask for a sample shipment.
The next steps will be done outside the Canton Fair platform. Buyers and sellers can use Tencent tools such as WeChat and applets for communication, tracking, and other support services.
7. Complete Orders
Finally if you are satisfied with the sample order, it’s time to complete the order by finalizing contract details and proceeding with production. Double and triple check all details to avoid problems.
8. Do Quality Control
Do quality control inspection before shipment. Find a reliable third party company to do this.
9. Arrange Delivery
After a successful quality control inspection, arrange for product delivery. Find a reliable logistics company with no known violations or problems with previous clients.
V. Tips When Trading on Online Canton Fair
Since this is the first time that the Canton Fair will be held entirely online, there are bound to be problems encountered by buyers and sellers along the way. Here are some tips to consider to maximize your participation:
1. Plan a Buying Strategy
Whether attending an online or offline trade fair, you need to have a strategy to make the most out of your participation in the first place. Create a schedule to view all the products you want to see and meet with potential suppliers. The fair is a 10-day exhibition, so use the ten days if you must so you have time to analyze all the information you’ll receive from the exhibition. Don’t cram all your viewings and meetings in one or two days, or on the last day.
2. Make Some Research on Suppliers
Then, do a background check on suppliers. At least, know if they were involved in some dispute with clients or violation of government regulations. Avoid these suppliers.
Most companies are pretty much the same, capable of manufacturing products with the same prices. For your preferred suppliers, do business with those having positive feedback from customers, and with customers indicating that you won’t have problems doing business with this supplier.
3. Deal with Good Suppliers Only
① Check the “supplier details”
The online platform contains adequate information on supplier details. Take note of its product line-up, volume of production, and production processes.
② Review the company profile
Know how long the company has been operating, the type of businesses it has been dealing with (small scale or large scale businesses), and client feedback.
③ Check factory and office environment
VR technology lets you view a company’s factory and office environment. Look for clean and orderly operations, with satisfied employees doing productive work.
④ Look at team members & factory workers
It’s important to know about the company’s management team and workforce. Having a number of employees usually indicates a stable company with satisfied employees.
4. Know Which Questions to Ask
Most importantly, be clear which questions to ask, such as questions about product details. But so are questions about contract terms, pricing structure, payment terms, and support services such as logistics and customer service, especially for post-purchase transactions.
VI. Challenges When Attending the Online Canton Fair
1. Product Quality Problem
Since you won’t be seeing and holding actual products in the online fair, you’ll probably doubt the product quality. This is where your research will be of great help. Learn everything there is to know about your prospective suppliers. Therefore there should be a factory inspection video that you can watch to learn about its product quality standards.
2. Network Delay
Besides, how you experience the online Canton Fair will mostly be dependent on your internet service and mobile communications provider. Network connectivity will make or break your Canton Fair experience. As tens of thousands of traders and exhibitors will participate in the online event, some network delay is expected.
To avoid or at least minimize connectivity problems, make sure that you get the best possible service available in your area for your internet service and mobile communications. Also, familiarize yourself with the exhibition’s online platform, so you know beforehand how it works. The video playback function will allow you to view previous interactions with exhibitors.
3. Language Barrier
Not familiar with the Chinese language? You don’t have to take Cantonese or Chinese language lessons before attending the Canton Fair, since multilingual translation support is available for buyers and exhibitors of the Canton Fair. The translation service includes English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, and more.
4. Transaction Scam
There’s always the possibility of getting scammed, especially if you’re dealing with strangers. When transacting with suppliers, stick to proven safe payment methods. Deal only with reputable suppliers to eliminate or at least minimize your chances of getting scammed.
Above all, the Canton Fair’s shift to an online platform highlights the importance of technological innovation in ensuring business continuity.
In order to have a positive experience at the online fair, you should do much preparation beforehand. Whether attending an online or offline trade fair, you should research the suppliers and vendors that will be there. And know what products or types of products you’re looking for beforehand. And you also need to have a basic understanding of how the platform works.
Whether the Canton Fair’s digital shift will be a permanent one remains to be seen. Since there seems to be a worldwide consensus that Covid-19 will be around for a long time, businesses must learn how to make the most effective use of digital technologies to reach their customers.
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