booths at the canton fair

Is attending the Canton Fair worth it?

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Obikoya Jeremiah

The China Import and Export Fair happens twice every year, April-May & October-November, but do you have to attend any of them? Is it worth your time and money?

This article answers these questions. We analyse the Canton Fair and discuss its benefits for businesses. We also disclose who this fair is for and who it is not for.

Before we dive into all that, let's understand what the Canton Fair is so we can see if it is actually worth going to.

Understanding the Canton Fair

The Canton Fair is a short-term term for the China Import and Export Fair, the oldest and largest trade show in China. 

It is a trade show where the best manufacturers from many industries in China and beyond exhibit their products. Participants worldwide can network, build business relationships, explore new market trends, and source products globally.

Basic information about the carton fair:

Canton Fair Location:

The trade fair is held in Pazhou Island, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China, 510308. This location is known for allowing foreign merchants to trade in Guangzhou, and finding it is never going to be a problem.

Canton Fair Frequency and Duration:

The Canton Fair occurs twice every year. The first occurs from April to May, while the other is from October to November. Each lasts 21 days (15 days of active trade fair plus 6 days breaks).

Canton Fair Phase:

The Canton Fair is divided into 3 phases. Each phase lasts 5 days, with a 3-day break between each phase for booth dismantling and setup in preparation for the next phase. The division into phases is a result of the wide variety of products and industries showcased at the fair. Each phase is dedicated to specific product categories.

Here are the major products displayed in each phase:
Phase 1: Electronics, household appliances, machinery, construction and agricultural machinery, electronic products, hardware, tools and more.

Phase 2: Ceramics, kitchenware, home decor, household items, furniture, building materials and more.

Phase 3: Textiles, clothing, fashion accessories, personal care, toys, office supplies, and more.

Visit the Canton Fair website for a complete list of the products exhibited in each phase of the fair.

Canton Fair Complex structure:

The Canton Fair Complex, also known as the Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center, is a building covering an area of over 1,100,000 square metres. It is divided into four main areas: Areas A, B, C, and D.

In different phases of the Canton Fair, the products to be displayed are categorised and divided among the 4 available Areas. 
Canton Fair layout in Phase 1
Canton Fair layout in Phase 1
Canton Fair layout in Phase 2
Canton Fair layout in Phase 2
Canton Fair layout in Phase 3
Canton Fair layout in Phase 3

Canton Fair Attendance:

At the 134th Canton Fair 2023, over  195,000 buyers globally attended the trade fair onsite in China, a 53.4% increase compared to the previous Canton Fair.

Canton Fair Accessibility:

The Canton Fair is accessible to anyone, and you can participate in it onsite and online. Though there is an option to attend the fair online, there is a reason why over 195,000 people decided to attend the fair onsite. This is what we want to review.

Benefits of Attending the Canton Fair

At Sara, we see the Canton Fair as a tool that accelerates business product sourcing. This is due to the many benefits we gain from attending a trade fair like this in China.

1. Easily access with many plants at a single location:

One issue we see many business owners face is finding good manufacturers from China to procure goods. 

While there is a large pool of suppliers and manufacturers in the Chinese market, sourcing your needs by visiting China outside of the Canton Fair would require travelling across different regions. However, attending the Canton Fair streamlines this process.

At the fair, you can access top-tier manufacturers of your desired products, allowing you to evaluate them all conveniently in one place, reducing your stress.

2. Product inspection and Quality Assessment:

Aside from the fact that you can get many manufacturers at the fair, they also showcase their products, enabling you to inspect and evaluate the quality directly at the Canton Fair. This eliminates the need to pay for the delivery of a test sample for inspection purposes.

With access to many manufacturers, you can assess as many products as necessary and make more informed decisions when selecting the manufacturer to work with when procuring your business needs.

3. Building Supplier Relationship:

The ability to have face-to-face interactions with the manufacturer of the product you offer to your customers is a plus to you. The Canton Fair gives you a platform to network with different manufacturers and build a good relationship with the company supplying your business needs. This opens the door for collaborations, long-term relationships and other benefits for your business.

4. Business Growth and innovation:

At the Canton Fair, various manufacturers are awarded for innovative product ideas and designs, and they are exhibited at the Design Award Hall. Exploring this hall for a short time exposes you to innovative ideas that can enhance your product and improve customer satisfaction.

You can also check for the manufacturer's booth number in the Canton Fair complex and have a discussion with them. This could open your business to significant competitive advantage in your country.

5. Price Competitiveness:

Since you are making business deals directly with the manufacturer of the products, you can purchase them at a much lower price than when you procure them from a trading company or supplier.

You also have the opportunity to compare prices offered by different manufacturers in the Canton Fair. 

6. Business Matchmaking:

In addition to the main Canton Fair trade show, the China Foreign Trade Centre (CFTC) conducts a business matchmaking event before, during, and after the fair.

In this event, you are matched with different manufacturers and suppliers in your industry, and you get to discuss your needs with them to see if they are a good fit for you.

Who is the Canton Fair for, and who is it not for?

To answer these questions, we will look at 3 factors that determine whether the Canton Fair is for you or not.

1. Product need:

Before thinking of going to the Canton Fair, you need to answer this question:

Are your business needs among the products in the exhibition list?

While there are various product categories showcased in each phase of the Canton Fair, including those with high demand in countries like Nigeria, it's important to confirm that the specific product you require for your business is available at the fair.

If it is not, there is no point in going to the fair. Let us know which product you need, and we will help you source it from our trusted network of suppliers in China and ship it to you.

2. Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ):

Each manufacturer at the Canton Fair has a minimum order quantity (MOQ), which is usually negotiable. However, you will rarely find anyone with a small MOQ at the fair.

Canton Fair manufacturers mostly accept buyers with high MOQ. If you are looking to just get a small quantity, you can reach out to us, and we will get it for you.

3. Your Budget:

Yes, attending the carton fair has great benefits, but are you working on a very tight budget and timeline?

If yes, then attending the carton fair might not be the best decision for you. You can work with procurement service providers, like Sara, to source and purchase your products instead.

Budget for Attending Canton Fair

While the Canton Fair is a free event, there are other things you will need that will cost you.

Below is a typical budget for a Canton Fair:
3.Police character certificate
6.Transportation within China

Note that the cost above is only an estimate for Nigerians who want to attend the fair. If you want a specific budget for your country, you can contact us.

Should you go to the Canton Fair or not.

You can go to the Canton Fair if the products you need are exhibited there, you need a high MOQ, and you have the budget and time to go there. It is definitely worth it.

But if you need a small MOQ and are working on a tight budget, we wouldn't advise you to go to the Canton Fair. Instead, contact us and let us know what product you want to purchase in China. We will help you with everything, including the shipping and customs clearance.

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Obikoya Jeremiah

Jeremiah Obikoya is a dedicated content writer at SARA, where he engages in daily research and development to craft innovative solutions for the procurement challenges you encounter.


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