arrow-right cart chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up close menu minus play plus search share user email pinterest facebook instagram snapchat tumblr twitter vimeo youtube subscribe dogecoin dwolla forbrugsforeningen litecoin amazon_payments american_express bitcoin cirrus discover fancy interac jcb master paypal stripe visa diners_club dankort maestro trash

Running an eCommerce Business

A Beginners Guide to the Canton Fair in China

A Beginners Guide to the Canton Fair in China

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

8 years ago

A Beginners Guide to the Canton Fair in China

The upcoming 116th Canton Fair is perhaps one of the biggest events in the eCommerce calendar. Thousands of merchants, traders, entrepreneurs and manufactures will be attending hoping to gather some leads, establish contacts and get ahead in business.

The fair starts on the 15th of October and runs until the 4th of November with different events and exhibitions catering towards every industry imaginable. From electronics to machinery to toys, this fair has truly got your eCommerce needs covered.

The Canton Fair can be overwhelming to merchants. It is one of the biggest fairs in the world and going without though without a purpose is a fool's errand. In this post, we are going to guide you through the Canton Fair  so that you can make the most of this important eCommerce event. 


With so many merchants and manufacturers from around the world heading to China for this fair, it’s best to book as early as possible as everything gets snapped up fast. Both flights and accommodation are in such demand, they are often booked for months in advance. As a first timer, it is also better to try and book a location as close to event as possible and if you leave it to the last minute you may find you will have a substantial commute.

Booking further in advance will also give you time to get your visa to enter China in order. This can be a tricky process so getting it organised early will relieve you of the stress of trying to get your visa in order.

Register for an Invitation

Merchants need to register for the fair and receive and invitation for a couple of reasons. First, it is necessary to enter the fair but also it is needed for your visa to enter the country. Secondly, this is your way into the fair and without it you cannot attend. Registering is a relatively simple process and can be done Canton Fair Online. However. do this as early as possible as obtaining a visa may be a time-consuming, drawn out process. 

Get an Agent

Although many of the traders and manufactures will be able to speak English, this doesn't mean that there won’t be cultural barriers hindering your interactions. We advise getting an agent that can act as a translator and guide throughout the whole process.

Having an agent will give you better insights into what each trader does, will enable you to ask more in-depth questions and make you look more serious about doing business. Without an agent you may be able to get by, but having one just gives you the upper hand.

Getting an agent can happen two ways. First, and the more advisable option is to book one before you leave. These are usually more professional and have experience dealing with people coming to the fair. The second option is to hire someone at the fair. Although, these agents will be able to translate, many of them are less experienced so they may not be able to help you as much as you would like. 

Set yourself a goal

Due to the sheer size of the Canton Fair, walking around aimlessly isn’t an option. Therefore, it is essential to set yourself a goal for why you are going and have a clear idea of what you want to achieve by going.

Make a list of what you want to achieve and questions that you would like to ask will lead to you have more successful interactions. It will also help you identify which traders and manufacturers are right for your store.

Additionally discuss your goals with your agent as they will be able to help you decided what to ask and what information you need to know. Overall, doing this will give you a clear vision of what you want to happen on your trip and make it goal orientated. 

Record what information is important

As you will be seeing a large number of manufactures in a large setting, it’s essential that you record what information that you think is important. Make a note of contact information, business cards, their location within the fair, products, prices and anything else that you might need to know. It’s easy to forget where and who certain manufactures are, so take no chances when it comes to recording information.

On top of this taking pictures will also help. As manufactures are being approached by hundreds of merchants all asking the same questions and looking for samples, you may not be able to get everything you want. Therefore taking pictures of products, the number of the booth and any other important information will serve as a call back to each trader and help you decide who you want to potentially do business with.

Don’t leave without a sample

If you meet a trader that you are interested looking for a sample can be a little tricky. They may be hesitant to give you a sample as they are continuously being asked for them and may not give them out if they believe you have only a casual interest.

However, getting samples is the only way to ensure that what you might be buying is up to scratch. To get a sample request to pay for one as they will see you are a serious buyer and they may be more willing to give you one. You should also request a to meet traders you are interested on a later date in your trip as they are usually happy to oblige and will set aside time to talk business with you, show you samples and give you more information. 


The Canton Fair can be an overwhelming experience for merchants as it is so large and offers so much. However, if you are organised, decide what you want from the experience and plan what you are going to do with your time, The Canton Fair can be the place to make connections with merchants and traders and establish relationships for your store.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published