I am about to head off to the Canton Fair. This will be my first visit to the fall Fair in a few years and I am excited. The weather in Guangzhou is very nice in the Autumn – in contrast to the spring when it rains almost every day – and the October fair is generally better attended than the April fair ( though there is no shortage of people at either fair).
As preparation for my visit I am reaching out now to vendors for samples/quotes on behalf of a couple of customers. By doing this I am beginning to get a good idea – even before I am in Guangzhou – of which vendors might be good to work with and which vendors I would want to avoid. As is usually the case many vendors I send out inquiries to neglect to get back to me – even after two or three attempts on my part to contact them. This tells me of course that this is probably not a vendor I want to work with. But I will nevertheless stop by their booth, talk to them and collect their name card. If the email address on the card is the same as I have on file, this will be the “kiss of death.” I always say that if a vendor is not good at communicating when you are showing interest in doing business with them, then imagine how difficult it might be after you have given them a 30 % deposit on an order and they have lost 30 % of their incentive to follow up with you. It is best to avoid vendors like this.
Other vendors are very helpful, offering quotes and samples by show time. Pre-fair sampling not only gives one a good indication of vendor responsiveness but by having vendors bring samples to the show – which you can collect and take back with you – you can not only save on expensive air freight to ship samples from China but you have a great opportunity to discuss with the vendors all production problems associated with your product. Needless to say it is better do discuss these problems face-to-face than in an email.
In total I have contacted probably over 100 vendors so far for this show, on behalf of two clients. It is a lot of work. But it is worth it.