Common Mistakes and Tips when Visiting Trade Shows and Factory
In this blog post, I’ll share with you the common mistakes that new buyers often make when visiting trade shows for the first few times.
✓ Why It’s important not to talk about the price too soon?
Don’t talk price too soon. The suppliers at the trade show are bombarded with buyers who walk past the booth and ask “what’s your price?” It doesn’t leave a good impression and the sellers doesn't view you as professional. An experienced buyer will make sure the seller understands the buyer's needs in advance, so that the seller can offer an accurate quote. When you start off by saying "how much does this widget cost?" the seller will usually give the lowest priced response which most likely doesn't include important things like shipping, customization, exclusivity or even an acceptable quality level.
Later I’ll talk about how to be an exciting buyer, but for now, I just want you to realize that it’s not a good practice, not is it effective to just walk through the trade show and say “What’s your price”, “What’s your price”, over and over again. The seller will assume that you only care about price, so they’ll give you the lowest price that they offer, and that might also have some quality defects that come along with it. Later we’ll talk about how to be an exciting buyer and ask for the price in the right way.
✓ “Can you make this?”
Perhaps the most common mistake that buyers make at these trade shows is to ask “Can you make this?” The representatives at the trade show will say “Sure we can make this.”
China recently put a man in space, they built the Great Wall—with enough time and resources, yes, anything can be done in China.
“Can you make this?" is a lot different from asking “Have you made this? Show me your production, current samples.”
I want to deal with factories that have direct experience with the product that I want to buy. It’s not good enough to say “Yes, in theory, they could make it”, because generally if you’re the first person to order with a new factory, and it’s the first time they make this widget for you, maybe they can make it, but in the first production order there are going to be lots of headaches, stuff is not going to ship on time, and it will require a lot of hand-holding.
I’ve seen "wannabe factory bosses", with zero manufacturing experience, get a booth at a trade show and tell buyer something like
" sure, we can make it, just give us the order and we can provide it"
And then they get your order, and they use your deposit to actually start their small factory. You don’t want to be the guinea pig. There’re enough legitimate, experienced factories out there that you should be focusing on sellers who have a proven track record in the product you want to buy.
Tips in Visiting Trade Show:
Ask the same question in multiple ways. For example, “Can you make this?” is the wrong why to ask about production experience. It would be better to say:
- What type of products are you making this month?
- Can you give me some samples?
- What are your major markets?
- How many units do you sell per month?
- What raw materials are you using?
- What’s your capacity?
- How many employees do you have?
Ask the question in different ways and see if the answers matches up.
The best way to verify if your supplier is legitimate is to visit them and discuss your expectations and needs, and ask a lot of meaningful questions.
And don't forget, even if the answers to your questions sound pretty good, the best way to avoid fraud is to conduct proper due diligence and research before formalizing any transaction with the supplier.
ABL Blog: Sr. Editor and Primary Content Creator: Michael J. Bellamy
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike moved to Asia in 1993 and is a China business advisor to both Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. Recognized as an expert on doing business in China, he has been interviewed by WSJ, CNBC, FT & Bloomberg.
A featured presenter on China issues at seminars, trade shows and corporate events across the globe.
Learn more about Mike and AsiaBridge Law at