'United nations' of buyers hungry for products
Innovation comes to the fore as Asia's biggest and fastest growing event of its kind gets under way with 1,900 exhibition booths
Global Sources' biggest spring show to date opens today with 1,900 booths - an event which promises to eclipse the spectacular success of last year's China Sourcing Fair: Electronics& Components.
Mainland exhibitors alone account for more than 1,300 booths - an increase from 1,000 booths last year.
Other exhibitors at the show, which runs until Sunday, are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States. The event has become Asia's fastest-growing electronics and components show.
'We filled all eight halls last year,' said Sarah Benecke, executive director of Global Sources.
'Its location at the AsiaWorld-Expo was a sensation. We had a 'united nations' of buyers from all over the world. We had the largest group of Chinese electronics exhibitors, even more than the Canton fairs.
'The Chinese manufacturers were what people around the world were looking at. A very high percentage of electronics products are made in China.'
Ms Benecke said buyer traffic was up more than 27 per cent, while business activity on the show floor was exceptional. The participation of big name retailers and importers, increased buyer attendance and strong growth in the number of booths demonstrated the value that the China Sourcing Fairs offered buyers and suppliers.
Big names that attended last year included 3M, BenQ, Best Buy, Black& Decker, Canon, Carrefour, Clipsal, Li& Fung, Philips, Fujitsu, Freescale, Kmart, LG Electronics, Samsung, Sanyo, Sainsbury's, Target, Monster Cable, Kesa Electricals, Staples, Tchibo, Halfords, NEC, ThreeSixty Sourcing, Decathlon and Brookstone.
The consumer electronics category in this year's event has expanded 25 per cent and the global positioning system (GPS) sector is 30 per cent larger.
Ms Benecke said one especially fast-growing area in consumer electronics was digital picture frame manufacturing, which accounted for a large increase in exhibitors. Prices of digital photo frames have fallen and products are becoming more popular worldwide.
More GPS applications are also being developed, and the cost is falling as mass market demand grows.
Global Sources plays a unique role in the electronics trade, with 11 magazines that specialise in different stages of production, from design to export, covering electronics, telecoms and computers.
The company also has an online network of more than 563,000 buyers.
A new category on security will also be launched at the fair, covering products such as CCTV, access control, fingerprint sensors, smoke detectors and alarm systems, with manufacturers mostly from China and South Korea.
Joe Maurel, managing director of MEC Security Supplies, one of the main buyers, said: 'Suppliers that I've been looking at through the Global Sources website happen to be exhibiting here, so I've been able to meet them. And I've also been able to make contact with suppliers I didn't know existed.'
Alexandre Ostrowiecki, director of Brazil's Multilaser, said: 'The level of players here is good. The companies are interesting and are right on the market in bringing out new products. The models they brought were innovative and had good designs, so I'm pretty satisfied.'
Global Sources chairman and chief executive, Merle Hinrichs, said suppliers from China and across Asia were focusing more on innovation. He said the diverse range of new products on display at the fairs was evidence that manufacturers were determined to move up the value chain.
Bevis Au, general manager of Hong Kong Benmost Electronics, which is exhibiting at the show, said innovation was the key to survival in the industry.
'The competition is very keen. We can't compete for cheap prices with the mainland companies,' said Mr Au.
'Prices of some components can fluctuate a lot. Sometimes the prices went so high that we had to discuss with clients about postponing the delivery date to wait for the price to come down.
'We also design products that people have never thought of making before, so that we can maintain our own niche. A lot of times we have to be bold and use trial and error.'
Benmost specialises in making digital photo frames with unique shapes, such as photo frames for key chains, which Mr Au said were a departure from the typical white photo frames.
'People nowadays looks for cool designs,' said Mr Au. 'For consumer electronics, it's always the appearance of the product that attracts consumers' attention before they go into the detailed functions.'
CHINA SOURCING FAIR
Electronics & Components
When April 12-14, 9.30am-6pm; April 15, 9.30am-5pm
Admission Free admission. No visitors under 18
Organiser Global Sources
What to see Consumer electronics, digital entertainment, in-car electronics, computer and networking, telecoms and accessories, Wi-fi and VoIP products, GPS products, health and personal care electronics, security and safety, electronic components, optoelectronics, power supplies