Attending trade shows has one big advantage: you can directly negotiate with the supplier and hope for better prices as well as control quality. Sourcing in Asia has usually been preferred by high volume buyers, seeking larger margins, but these last years more and more online individual resellers have been flying over for a sourcing spree. With the 122nd Canton Fair right around the corner, here are a few tricks on how to be efficient and effective.
Before the fair
Preparation is key, most sourcing experts will say it . Here are a few ways you can plan ahead of the trade show you’re attending, in order to make the most of it when you’ll get there.
· Define clearly your goals and the things you’re seeking to achieve during the show. Whether meeting with existing partners, finding new ones or collecting ideas for specific collections, you should have a clear to-do before entering the show.
· Schedule appointments, preferably outside the booths of your suppliers’. A trade show is usually very distractive and meeting in the middle of it all could result in your supplier’s attention being divided instead of totally focused on you. For example, meeting in food courts or relaxation areas can be a good option here.
· Plan your path across the fair in advance, and stick with it. By erratically walking the halls and alleys, you risk missing great opportunities.
· If you’re attending as a team, divide the show into sections. Divide and conquer!
And now what?
After having landed on the Canton fair and made your check-in, you will find yourself walking down in kilometers long alleys filled with thousands of suppliers and sprinting buyers all around you. Comes the question, thousands of products, means a lot of information, how do I deal with it? Right, well here is how:
During the fair:
Taking successful notes during a trade show is actually a bit more complicated than simply bringing pen and paper with you. The way you organize your notes will help you save time afterwards, when you will have to put them in order.
- Chose your notebook carefully, a rigid cover will save your precious notes from disaggregating after a few days of use
- Always take pictures in the same order: first business cards, then the booth, then the products you are interested in, for example, to sort them easily afterwards
- Staple those business cards directly in the notebook next to your notes to avoid mixing up your contacts
- Jot down the next steps for remembrance, such as ask product picture quote requests or follow up on samples request
After the fair
Cleaning your notes and assembling them into useful intel to base your follow up process upon is a rigorous process. There are, however, a few tips and tools to help you design your follow up efforts.
- CamCard is a precious little app that will help your digitalize your business cards and save them to an excel file, saving you hours of transcription after the show
- Be systematic in your note transcription: order them alphabetically or by date, in order to simplify follow up with each supplier
- Get together! Studies have shown that buying group decision-making tends to focus on quality, rather than other metrics such as price. Have every member of your team put together a short slideshow to discuss whether to move forward with the idea or not.
- Be specific in task attribution: divide clearly follow up amongst all members of your team to avoid confusion
If you are looking into a digital solution to go a step ahead, they are a few apps out there you could give a try. ShowSourcing, for example, offers two platforms, a mobile App to take notes on trade fairs (you can use it for anything: trade fairs, competition checks, factory visits,...) and a web cloud-based software to manage and share your products within your team.
It has already simplified the lives of many buyers, including Rudy from BeWear:
"Using ShowSourcing helped us greatly for our Asian Sourcing. Digitalizing our process made us save an incredible amount of time during our visits, but also during our debriefing phase and the follow-up process afterward. The whole experience is made easy through a simplified user dashboard, allowing a multi-service use! Synchronous editing and the combination of the mobile app and the web app is a real strong point of ShowSourcing. We've also been impressed by the support and reactivity of the ShowSourcing team, at all times."
How does it work?
Downloadit for free and create your account. While visiting a booth, the app will allow you to take pictures of business cards, products, and ideas and save them all in a supplier sheet, keeping all your notes organized. Most importantly, it will spare you hours of transcription at the end of the day, as ShowSourcing allows the download of all your notes in a handy spreadsheet. During the fair, it takes you only a few seconds to capture each product you want to save for later review!
After the trade show, slide onto the web app to work on your products with your team. Its main features include generating a slideshow in 1 click, a task manager to make sure all members of the team know their next steps and avoid overlap, and feedback and comments functionalities. Not only will you never lose your notes again, but you will effectively save hours during and after each fair trade.