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If you are new to selling online and sourcing your goods from Chinese sources you may not know what the Canton Fair is.

The Canton Fair is a trade fair held in the spring and autumn seasons each year since the spring of 1957 in Guangzhou, China. It is the most well known trade fair in China to most Amazon PL (Private Label) sellers. Like many people I sourced my goods from Chinese manufacturers and suppliers. I saw many people go to Canton Fair and come back in most cases with only a couple of new products. I also thought that maybe like the big US vendor shows it may be hard to get any real business done other than a few key meetings.

canton fair

This is when I started asking my mentors who are in the 10’s of million a year in sales of all PL products on Amazon and who wholesale at trade shows across the US about going to Canton.
The resounding answer was “that is nice but I do not go any more.” or “you should go once to check it out, but I do not go any more.” This made me wonder why??

So I started asking questions and the number 1 reason was that there was not enough variety. What???? My mentors, the guys who were years ahead of me, who’s businesses made my own 5 million dollar a year business look small told me they shop in other places?? Now I needed to know where and how this was possible. So I asked if I could tag along on a recent trip and they agreed.

Over the last couple of weeks we have finalized arrangements for the spring shopping trip in January. We buy in January to sell in spring. These guys are buying ahead of the seasons just like big box stores….great lesson learned there, but I have also been learning why these guys shop in other major selling cities in China as well. Here are the top 4 reasons they told me.

1.) Super crowded: The fair during peak runs is overloaded with people and getting any meaningful business done for them, with a manufacturer at the fair, is to slow for these guys.
2.) Smaller varieties: Even though the fair is large it will have a lot of the newest goods being launched (Much like CES in the US) but the entire product sets are smaller.
3.) COGS is higher: Apparently there is a premium at the fair and you will pay more there than elsewhere, also you have more competition there, and less time to negotiate.
4.) Cost to Attend: And like anywhere else the costs of plane tickets not purchased way in advance, cost of hotels, and everything else there will be more. Basic Supply and Demand.

canton crowded

So although Canton is a great show and should be attended at least once just for the show, it is apparently not the best sourcing solution in China for some of the very large sellers I mastermind with and are being mentored by.

So I am going to these other locations in about a week with my mentors and one of my goals while I am there is to set up a warehouse in China, as well as hire staff to provide local inspection, and shipping aggregation services for my company. I will be writing about them and doing some videos while I am there to set up the next trip at the beginning of April where I invite some of my students to come with me and learn.

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Alan Basinger

Alan Basinger

Alan Basinger is CEO of GDW Inc and a 15 year eCommerce veteran. As well as a serial entrepreneur, sought after mentor, coach, and speaker. Alan also is a serial giver and regularly gives his time to others to help them in his quest to help 1000 people get free by running their own profitable eCommerce businesses. You can contact him at support@gdwinc.com.
Alan Basinger

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