Sourcing show offers match made in heaven
The organiser has found the right recipe for success in bringing together more mainland suppliers with buyers from around the world
The China Sourcing Fair: Gifts & Home Products can only get bigger, as more buyers from around the world look to the mainland for suppliers offering lower costs and readily available new products.
This year, fair organiser Global Sources has gathered more mainland Chinese exhibitors than ever before. Over 65 per cent of the more than 2,000 exhibitors at the fair, which opens today and runs until Monday, are from the mainland.
Tolga Sozen, managing director of a Turkish home product company called Tolman, attended last winter's Gifts & Home Products show, and found the concentration of mainland suppliers helpful to a business like his. 'We used to find these suppliers [in other shows] not in a large group, but in a small group of companies at one local fair or another. Now Global Sources has put them all together in one big show,' he said.
Sarah Benecke, director of Global Sources, said bringing together global buyers with mainland suppliers had made the previous two fairs successful.
'Buyers are happy, suppliers get business and generally all attendants have a high level of satisfaction,' she said.
Global Sources staff talk to buyers and exhibitors on site to gauge their opinions on the fair.
'The key to a trade fair is to attract buyers. We treat the buyers like kings and queens,' said Ms Benecke, adding that Global Sources provides every registered buyer with Airport Express train tickets, a shuttle bus service and access to a buyers' lounge, all for free.
The key to Global Sources success is its ability to locate and attract mainland suppliers. With the help of a database of Chinese manufacturers, which Global Sources claims to be the largest in the world, the fair organiser aggressively looks for new suppliers all around the country.
The fair is also backed up by Global Sources' mainland sales team, which has accumulated 25 years of experience. The sales staff reach out to distant suppliers and introduce them to the fairs by showing them video footage of previous fairs.
The team sometimes approaches officials of provincial governments to reach out to various regions of the mainland famous for specialised arts and crafts such as basketware in Shandong, ceramics in Fujian and glassware in Shanxi.
Last year, Global Sources worked with the vice-mayor of Heze city in Shandong, who sent 11 companies to the fair. Each of them secured orders from the fair, and they will all be returning to this year's fair alongside 13 newcomers.
Heze's vice-mayor was so impressed by the result that he recommended the show to other municipal governments in Shandong.
This year, Global Sources is partnering with the Shandong government to open a new basketware category, as this is the province where most basketware manufacturers are located.
'If they stayed in Shandong, the chances of getting overseas buyers would have been next to impossible,' Ms Benecke said.
'This fair is an outstanding platform, and it is known around the world,' said Lorna Chen, general manager at Taizhou Shuangma Plastic Manufacturing. 'It is a worthwhile investment that will bring us more customers.'
Taizhou Shuangma first attended the fair last October, and has since signed up for four more China Sourcing Fairs.
For mainland suppliers, the fair represents a unique opportunity to attract bigger orders from better buyers - a pressing need given an increasingly difficult operating environment of a strengthening yuan, higher wages and more expensive raw materials and parts.
This is especially true for craft companies that require skilled manual labourers, such as General Accessories and Craft Factory, a Hong Kong company specialising in making eggshell crafts. The company employs 100 workers at its mainland factory.
'Our crafts need very delicate finishing, so we can only hire young people who have better eyesight to do the work,' said general manager Sandy Lee.
'However, more opportunities have opened up for young people in the mainland and fewer people are willing to get into the industry.
'Also, the salaries of workers keep increasing. There isn't much we
can do. We are hoping that the fair can bring us more good quality and bigger buyers, so that we can afford the higher labour cost.'