Today I’m thrilled to have Meghla Bwardhaj on the show. Meghla is the head of content marketing at Global Sources, a company that helps entrepreneurs find Asian suppliers online.
In addition, Meghla coordinates the annual Global Sources Summit in Hong Kong where they provide incredible content for ecommerce entrepreneurs.
Today, we’re going to discuss product sourcing, trade shows and everything supplier related.
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What You’ll Learn
- The benefits of attending a trade show
- How to ensure the quality of your suppliers
- How is Global Sources different from Alibaba
- Tips on preparing for a trade show
- The best way to request a sample from your vendors
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Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Meghla Bwardhaj on the show. Now Meghla is the head of content marketing at Global Sources, which is one of the leading companies that help entrepreneurs find Asian suppliers online. And in addition, Global Sources runs an annual conference in Hong Kong right before the Canton Fair, which provides incredible content for e-commerce entrepreneurs. And once again, Meghla coordinates this event every single year. Now Anyway, I’ve known Meghla for quite some time now. And today we’re going to talk product sourcing, trade shows, and everything supplier related. And with that welcome to the show Meghla, how are you doing today?
Meghla: Hey, thank you so much for having me Steve. I’m doing great.
Steve: So thank you for accommodating me today and the time change that I did last minute. I was hoping that you could just give us a brief background about your role at Global Sources, and basically kind of talk about what Global Sources does.
Meghla: Okay, sure. So let me talk about what Global Sources does, first of all. So Global Sources is actually a B2B supplier platform. And not many people know this but we were actually established in 1971.
Meghla: So we were like the very first supplier platform out there. And at that time, you started with magazines. And then in the 1990s, we launched our website. And then in the early 2000s, we launched our trade shows. So we primarily help overseas importers find and meet suppliers in China and also in other countries in Asia. And there are a couple of ways we do that. So first of all, we have an online supplier directory at Globalsources.com. And we also host sourcing trade shows in Hong Kong every April and October. So the exhibitors at these exhibitions are basically suppliers, manufacturers from China and other countries. And then me personally, I have been working with Global Sources for almost 18 years now.
Meghla: That’s a long time I know. Did I give away my age?
Steve: I was at my last company for 17 years. So we’re probably the same age then.
Meghla: Yeah. So I’ve worked in India and the Philippines, in China and I’m currently based in Singapore. I lived in China, specifically Schengen for almost 10 years. And I’ve been working with manufacturers and importers for a long time. And there’s been hundreds of factories in China and India working on research reports for Global Sources. And more recently, I’ve been working with e-commerce sellers, trying to help them source products more effectively from China. And as you mentioned, I’m the organizer of this conference called Global Sources Summit that we host in Hong Kong in conjunction with our shows every April and October.
Steve: Yes, which is an incredible feat. I don’t know how you do it, because this show is really large, right? I mean, compared to Sellers Summit, you got vendors, you got attendees, you got speakers, it’s quite a task.
Meghla: Yeah, that’s correct. And so we have a separate team that manages the exhibitions. And they’re like hundreds of people there in that team. So there’s the sales team and the marketing team, the logistics team and everything. So and then we have a separate team for the conference for Global Sources Summit. But the idea of organizing a conference together with the trade shows is that when people attend the conference, they can learn all about sourcing and selling on Amazon and network with other e-commerce sellers. And at the same time, they can put that education into practice at the show floor and start sourcing their product at the same time.
Steve: Yeah, that’s really smart. I know that a lot of people tend to get Global Sources and Alibaba confused. So I was hoping you could just kind of describe why it’s different. I have my own answer to this question. So I’m just kind of curious what you have to say about that.
Meghla: Okay, sure. So first of all, for Global Sources, one of the key advantages is O2O what we call O2O. And O2O basically means online to offline, which means that we also host trade shows whereas Alibaba is more only online focus, they don’t have their trade shows, Global Sources also has trade shows. And the benefit of sourcing at a trade show is that you’re actually — these suppliers tend to be a little bit more reliable, because they are investing in attending a trade show and they’re putting themselves in front of buyers. So typically, they’re more reliable than suppliers online. And also many of the exhibitors at our shows are also on our website. So you can source products from exhibitors on the website too.
And then another difference is that there is a higher percentage of manufacturers on Global Sources, whereas on Alibaba, you’ll find a lot more trading companies. And of course, there are tons of manufacturers on Alibaba, for sure. But sometimes it becomes difficult to differentiate the manufacturers from trading companies on Alibaba. Whereas in Global Sources, it’s easier to do because suppliers tend to be more transparent on Global Sources, like if they are a trading company, they’re more likely to say that openly on their profile that hey, we are a trading company, and these are the products that we do.
And then one of the reasons for that is because we work very closely with each supplier to try and write their company profile and try to identify the USPs of each company so that company profile is posted on the website, and buyers can get a better understanding of what that company specializes in and what the company is all about. The other difference I would say is that Global Sources tries to curate more products. So we try to focus on making it easier for buyers to identify new and innovative products, because I think this is one of the biggest challenges that all types of buyers not only e-commerce sellers face when sourcing products, everyone is trying to look for their best seller and the next big thing.
So we try to help buyers with that by curating products. We have something called analysts choice, where we actually identify new innovative products, and then give them the analysts choice badge on the website and at the trade shows as well. And then we have other lists such as the top 20 most trending products, top 20 most popular products. And then we also have new from exhibitors. So there are different categories of products that are curated. And even at the shows, you’ll find things like millennial zone, for example. So we’ve actually curated products that millennials would find appealing and would easily buy. And then we have a design award, for example. So we’ve got external judges, and they’re actually reviewing products and awarding products that are unique and innovative.
Steve: So one thing I’ve noticed when using Global Sources versus Alibaba is that there’s a lot less what I call riffraff on Global Sources. The vendors that you do find will tend to be legit, whereas Alibaba you’re never sure whether it’s just like trading company, or even something less than a trading company, like some guy who’s just going off and buying stuff that they find and delivering it, so which kind of leads me to my next question. I know you guys have a vetting process, what is that like for the companies that you have on the directory?
Meghla: Okay, so we believe in trust, but verify. And I think that’s something that importers who are sourcing from China or anywhere actually should also believe and trust, but verify. So we check and verify our suppliers and the information they post as much as possible. For example, business registration details of all of our advertisers are verified by independent third parties such as Dun and Bradstreet, or Ease credit, Experian. And then similarly, all of the suppliers at our trade shows are also verified. And the other thing that we do is we make it easier to identify actual manufacturers on the website by this verified manufacturers label that we assign companies.
And the way that we assign this label is that we check the actual license that has been given to them by the relevant government departments that allows them to manufacturer products. So that doesn’t necessarily mean that they manufacture all the products that are displayed on their website, but it basically means that they have the license to set up a factory and manufacture products. And it’s very common in China for companies to manufacture certain product lines in house and then outsource other products from different manufacturers. But when you see this label, you at least know that it is very likely that their primary product category is manufactured by themselves and that they are a factory.
Steve: Okay and this is something you do for everyone who applies to be a part of the directory. Is that correct?
Meghla: Yes, correct. So if you don’t have a business, if you don’t have a proper business registration, you cannot go up on the site.
Steve: Okay. And that is probably one of the other differences as well.
Meghla: Yes it is.
Steve: So when you are interacting with a vendor, let’s say I’m a brand new shop, and I’m interacting with the vendor, what are some no nos that you shouldn’t do when contacting someone for the first time? And how do you make sure that you get a reply from them?
Meghla: Okay, so first of all, you have to keep in mind that just as buyers are vetting suppliers, suppliers are also vetting the emails that they receive. And in fact, Global Sources, we get so many complaints from suppliers saying that, hey, we’re not getting good quality inquiries. And these buyers are just looking to buy samples, and they’re not serious buyers. So what’s the most important thing is to communicate that you are a serious buyer, and you understand the product.
And the way to do that is first of all ask very specific questions about the product. Don’t just give very vague and very broad messages or emails, don’t just say that, okay, I’m looking for this product, send me your catalog. That is something that suppliers don’t like at all. And that’s a red flag for suppliers. And that tells them oh, this buyer is very new. And he’s probably he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. So you’ve got to make sure that you send them very specific details about the products that you’re looking for.
Steve: Do you have an example off the top of your head have a good initial contact letter?
Meghla: So, for example, you could say something like, hey, I’m looking for I don’t know, garlic presses. And yeah, and I saw that you manufacture whatever, stainless steel garlic presses, and I want to source a garlic press in so and so stainless steel, and I would order whatever, 100 pieces initially. Once I’m able to establish this market, I will be increasing my order volume to so and so. And I am importing into the US, so I need to make sure that you have such and such certifications for this product. Can you please confirm if you have those certifications or something like that?
Steve: Okay, so very specific questions about the product to show them that you’re really serious, and you actually know what you’re trying to source essentially.
Meghla: Exactly, yes. And also, it helps to give a bit of background about your own company. So I mean, even if you’re just starting out, you don’t have to say that I’m a new seller, and I’m just starting out, but just say that I’m an online seller, and this is a product category that I specialize in. And here’s my website, if you have a website. That’s another thing that suppliers want to look for the buyers website to see what kind of other products the buyer is selling.
Steve: One thing I noticed about using Global Sources is that the MOQs tend to be on average higher than Alibaba. And so I was just wondering like if you’re brand new starting out, are there actually a good number of vendors that are willing to do let’s say, 500 units or less?
Meghla: Actually, nowadays there are. And because of this, we’ve actually launched a new feature. I mean, it’s not new; it was launched maybe last year or so. But this is a new filter that we’ve launched on the site for small orders. So if you search for any product, on the search results page, right at the top of the search results, you’ll see a filter accept small orders. And once you check that, you will see the list of suppliers that are willing do smaller orders.
Steve: That’s very convenient. What is the definition of a small order?
Meghla: So we leave that up to the supplier because of course, it’s very different for each product category right? But in general, it’s about I’d say 100 pieces or so.
Steve: Oh, okay. Okay. Yeah, that is definitely a small order. Okay, that’s great. And so you filter all those out and this is based on whether the vendor decides to check that box whether they want to show up for small orders, is that correct?
Meghla: Yes that’s correct yeah.
Steve: Okay. And then it’s up to you, obviously, to still ask what the MOQs are for a specific order.
Meghla: Yes, that’s correct.
Steve: Okay. And okay so as vendors are vetting you, how should you be vetting the vendor? Now, you guys have done a lot of the work already, but what are some other things that buyers should look for as well?
Meghla: So, of course, each buyer is different, because you’re sourcing products for your own specific market, right. So the most important thing is to know what the requirements are for your market, and then find an ideal supplier for you. So the first thing that you need to do is find out if there are any regulations for that product, and then try to identify suppliers that have those regulations or suppliers that export to your market because if you find suppliers who export to your market, then they’re more likely to already know the regulations and the requirements for your specific market. So I think that’s very important. If you’re sourcing for the US, then make sure that the supplier has experience exporting to the US. I think that’s one thing.
And then also, you have to decide whether you want to go direct to a manufacturer, or you want to source from a trading company, because sometimes sourcing from a trading company can be advantageous because you can get smaller order volumes, because trading companies source products in higher volume from manufacturers, and then they can sell products into smaller quantities to buyers. Especially if you’re just testing out a product and you’re not able to find a manufacturer who’s doing a lower MOQ, you can just go to a trading company.
Steve: When you filter out based on small orders, will more trading companies tend to pop up on Global Sources?
Meghla: It’s likely but I think increasingly, there are more manufacturers. I think manufacturers are kind of adjusting their supply chains and their product runs and assembly lines to cater to smaller orders, because that’s where — that’s the need of the market nowadays. I mean, not only e-commerce sellers, but even larger importers, they tend to order in smaller quantities, because they want to test products as well.
Steve: So when it comes to like the regulatory requirements of a product for the US, for example, if a vendor says that they’re certified, are they to be believed?
Meghla: Well, it depends. I would say like, if it is a larger kind of more established company, they tend to be more — you can trust them a little bit more. But if it’s a very small workshop and factory has just started out and doesn’t export a lot to the US and doesn’t have a lot of big buyers that they already sell to, then I would be a little bit more cautious. But if you see an exporter who is already selling to Disney, or some of the more well-known brands in the US, then I think they’re a bit more trustworthy. But if you’re scaling your product, and if you’re sourcing a new product line, then I think it always helps to do your own certification, like your own independent testing. So you just need to buy a sample from the supplier and then send it to a testing laboratory for testing,
Steve: Do you have any good resources on what certain products require certain regulatory requirements in the US or any other country?
Meghla: No, we don’t have any resources on the website, but I think this information should be available online, or a lot of the inspection companies also offer this information. So for example, Asia Inspection, you can always just, if you’re looking at a product, they should have all of this information in there on their website, or you can just contact them and ask for it.
Steve: So one common concern of brand new sellers are that they’re worried that their intellectual property or the brand will get stolen. What are some things that you can do to prevent that from happening with the factories that you interact with?
Meghla: So I think that’s always a risk that that might happen. But some of the things that you can do is sign an agreement with the supplier. And this agreement is not a guarantee that the supplier will not go ahead and sell your product to another buyer or sell it themselves on Amazon. But it basically, it will make them think twice. I think that’s the main thing to consider. If a supplier is rogue, and that’s what they intend to do, they will go ahead and do it regardless of a contract, but it will just make them think twice.
And then the other thing to do is you have to also keep in mind that it is less likely that the supplier will copy your products. I think it is more likely that sellers, like other sellers would copy your product because most suppliers, they don’t like to do B2C, because that’s not where their profit is. I mean, they are manufacturers, so they would prefer to manufacture high volumes and sell to buyers, rather than sell 10 pieces on Amazon. So it’s more likely that the sellers that you have more competition from sellers in your country or in other countries.
Steve: Are there any questions that you would ask a vendor to kind of weed them out, like the good from the bad?
Meghla: So I think there is no real definition of good or bad for a supplier.
Meghla: it totally depends on what your specific needs are. So it comes back to listing your own requirements, identifying the criteria that is important for you, for your ideal supplier. I think once you do that, then it becomes very easy to weed out suppliers that are not right for you.
Steve: Okay, and one thing that I’ve noticed kind of happening with some of the manufacturers that I work with is that some of them are actually listing their stuff on Amazon, and you just mentioned that a lot of manufacturers don’t want to do B2C, but I have been seeing more and more of that happening. What are you seeing on your end?
Meghla: So what we’re seeing is that, yes, you’re right. I mean, there are some manufacturers who are doing that. But by and large, I think it’s third party sellers in China who have access to these factories and to wholesale markets in China, they are the ones selling products on Amazon directly. By and large, we’re seeing that manufacturers they still want to do high volume orders.
Steve: Okay. So Meghla, let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about trade shows. So why should someone fly all the way to Hong Kong to attend Global Sources? Is the directory that you guys offer enough?
Meghla: So I think in most cases, sourcing online is enough, but I feel that there are certain advantages of sourcing at a trade show. First of all, you can be the first to source a new product, because a lot of the suppliers don’t post products online, I mean, new products. They usually launch products at trade shows, because when they post products online, they’re afraid that other suppliers will copy the product. So if you’re at a trade show, you’re more likely to see products that are new in the market. And then it speeds up the sourcing process. I think that’s another advantage.
Like if you’re sourcing online, you’re searching for products online, contacting suppliers, asking them to sell send samples to you. And that in itself takes a couple of months. Whereas when you’re at a trade show, then you can actually touch and feel the products and ask all the questions about the supplier and about the product and get a lot of information. And you can compare products from various manufacturers just in a couple of days. So it really speeds up the sourcing process. And then you can touch and feel products. I think that’s the biggest advantage. You can’t do that from behind the computer screen. You can look at the product and get all of information. But touching and feeling the products is something that really tells you for certain product category, especially, it tells you a lot about the product quality.
And then sometimes you can get better pricing when you’re at a trade show. So many of these, the exhibitors at the trade shows, they tend to take you more seriously because you are at a trade show, because they know that you are real, you’re a serious buyer, you’ve come all the way from your country and spending a couple of days here. So they will take you more seriously. And even when you’re sourcing even a couple of cents or a couple of dollars can make a big difference to your bottom line. So, you can get better pricing when you’re at a trade show, better payment terms as well.
Steve: Do you have any tips on how to negotiate this?
Meghla: Yeah, I think it’s easier to negotiate when you’re at a trade show, that’s one thing. So I don’t think you should start by negotiating the price. I think what you want to do is portray to the supplier that you are serious about the product, you’re a serious buyer, you’re going to buy more quantities for them, you’re going to place repeat orders with them. And once you’ve placed a couple of orders with the supplier, build a relationship with them, I think that’s the time when you can ask to lower the price or negotiate for better prices and better payment terms.
Steve: Would you advise negotiating before your first large order or after the first large order?
Meghla: I think you can try to negotiate before the first large order, especially if you’ve tested the product, and you’re confident that the product will do well and you’ll be able to place multiple large orders moving forward. If you can convince the supplier of that, it doesn’t hurt to negotiate before you place a large order. And in China, it’s very — suppliers expect you to negotiate actually. So there’s nothing wrong with that.
Steve: Yeah, sometimes my wife and I get a little bit too into it actually. About samples, I remember before we were just talking about some new feature that you guys have in regards to getting samples, what is that new feature?
Meghla: Oh yes, this is something that I’m really excited about. So this is a new filter that we’ve launched on the website, and it’s a new service, actually. So accept samples, or you can buy samples from the website. So this is a new service. It’s still in beta, we’re working on enhancements, but basically what this allows buyers to do is to buy samples directly from suppliers. And we have this whole section on the website at Globalsources.com/buysamples, and there are about 100,000 products currently listed on this section. And these are samples that are ready to buy at a single click, at the click of a button.
And so this basically makes samples very accessible without the need for long discussions and negotiations with the seller because I mean, currently, if you want a sample, you contact the supplier and say, hey, do you have a sample of this product? No, I don’t have a sample but I have one in of this other model, would you like this? And then there’s a lot of back and forth for samples. But here you have all the samples displayed. And then you just click on whatever, whichever sample you want to buy. And then you can just buy it directly. So these are samples that are available from suppliers.
Steve: Interesting okay.
Meghla: And the other thing is that pricing that’s displayed on the website that includes shipping to anywhere in the world. So I think that’s a big — it’ll be very convenient for buyers because they don’t have to negotiate the shipping price or anything like that with suppliers.
Steve: Okay, so it’s kind of like Amazon.
Meghla: It’s kind of like Amazon yeah for samples. But of course, prices will of course be higher than what you would actually pay for when you buy at wholesale. But what I’m seeing is that many samples are actually lower cost, because we’re encouraging suppliers to offer prices, to offer lower prices and treat this as a marketing cost. Because what we found is that higher sample costs, it actually turns off buyers more instead of just filtering out sample hunters. So whereas typically, you’d see suppliers offering a $1 product for $100 or so, but on this section, you’re more likely to find the price between say 50 to $60 just as an example. Of course, it varies from product to product.
Meghla: And then, yeah, I mean, suppliers decide which products they want to feature here in this section depending on availability of samples, and what products they want to promote. And we encourage suppliers to feature new and hot products over here.
Steve: So usually — oh sorry, go on.
Meghla: Now, I was just going to say that there’s also filter on the search results page. It’s accept small or accept sample orders. So when you do a search result, you can just use this filter to display suppliers that have ready samples of that product.
Steve: Okay, that’s very convenient.
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I was just about to say that when I get samples, usually I make my modifications first and get a custom sample made. It sounds like this feature is much more useful when you’re just kind of select between the manufacturers first to see what their initial quality is of their existing products are before you customize, is that accurate?
Meghla: Exactly, yes. Yes, that’s accurate. Yeah.
Steve: And so all this stuff from what I’m gathering is already premade and you can just add a click of a button, it gets shipped almost immediately.
Meghla: Yes, it gets shipped within two days; the shipping is done by the supplier. So we’re not holding any inventory or anything. It’s shipped directly by the supplier.
Steve: And one thing that I sometimes do is I just have this sample kind of comped on my first large order. Do all those rules kind of still apply if you use this feature?
Meghla: Absolutely yeah.
Steve: Okay. So we got sidetracked a little bit, because we were talking about trade shows, it seems like all these features that you’ve added to the main website make it a little less necessary for you to attend a trade show. So given all the new features, how do you kind of decide whether you should go to a trade show or not? And what would make it worth it to you? First of all, does it cost any money and who’s allowed to attend the show?
Meghla: So it doesn’t cost any money if you preregister online, the trade shows are totally free. But if you don’t register online, I think at the venue it’s about 50 Hong Kong dollars or 100 Hong Kong dollars.
Steve: It’s very little.
Meghla: It’s not much, very little yeah. So generally, what I advise people is to do most of the sourcing online, but visit a show at least once a year or once in two years. And then at the same time, when you’re visiting a show, you should also try and visit your factories. I think that is something that makes a huge difference when you’re sourcing from China and you’re trying to build a relationship with suppliers, visiting their factory and seeing how the products are manufactured.
So there are a couple of trade shows that are held in Asia and they’re held during the same time so every April and October. And the dates of the trade shows are exactly the same April and October. So it’s easy for people to remember. And they are timed in a way to make it convenient for buyers to go from one trade show to another. So there’s not a lot of overlap between shows offering the same kind of products.
Steve: What would you say that Global Sources, the exhibition specializes in, what type of products?
Meghla: So there are four exhibitions that we host every April and October. One is consumer electronics. The second one is mobile electronics. The third one is lifestyle products, which covers gifts and home products. And the fourth is fashion. So I would say that Global Sources specializes in electronics products, those are our biggest exhibitions because we have two shows dedicated to electronics. So if you’re sourcing electronics products, then this is definitely a must attend show. And then Canton Fair, which is held in Guangzhou, which is about two hours from Hong Kong, it’s in mainland China. So Canton also has a couple of three phases basically.
The first phase is more electrical and electronics. The second phase is gifts and home products. And the third phase is fashion and textile kind of products. And so I would say that most Amazon sellers attend phase two of Canton Fair, which is the gifts and home products. And of course Canton Fair is much bigger than Global Sources, and especially the phase two of Canton Fair. But for Global Sources fairs, we try to focus a lot more on curating products. And so we are a smaller show, but we try to make it easier for buyers to find new and innovative products.
Steve: And I’ve heard the huge advantage is the conference itself. When does that take place in respect to the exhibitions?
Meghla: So that takes place during the lifestyle and the fashion show which the dates for the upcoming conference are April 27 to the 29th. And it’s held in conjunction with like I said, the lifestyle show, which is the product category that most e-commerce sellers, Amazon sellers are most interested in. Yeah, so it’s a three day conference and we’ve got about 23 speakers, mostly from the US and from China. We’re going to be covering topics related to product selection, sourcing, driving traffic, driving sales, doing a listing. And we’ve also got a lot of trade show time built into the agenda so that you have enough time to attend the trade show while you’re at the venue attending the conference.
Steve: So for someone who’s going over to China and Hong Kong for the very first time, do you have some tips for kind of traversing a trade show because I know that at least with the Canton Fair, you don’t want to just go and walk around and bum around right?
Meghla: Absolutely. And especially Canton Fair, because it’s so huge, it’s just easy to waste so much time there.
Meghla: So I think the first thing to do is list all of the products that you are interested in, or at least the product categories and at least know what products, what kinds of products you want to source. And this will help you focus and save time when you’re at the show. And then the other thing to do is list all of the product features and all of your requirements. If you already source certain kinds of products, or you know what you want to source, make a list of all the specifications, the functions, the features, the quality standards, certifications and any other information that’s important to you, and what kind of supplier are you looking for, trading companies, manufacturers.
And then it becomes very easy for you to filter out exhibitors that are not right for you. And you can just ask a couple of basic questions at the booth and then quickly move on to the next booth if the supplier is not right for you. The other thing that you can do is get estimated prices online before you go to the show for the product categories that that you’re interested in so that you can at least benchmark prices and compare prices at the show from prices that you got online.
Steve: Is there an exhibitor list online for Global Sources?
Meghla: Yes, yes.
Steve: Okay perfect.
Meghla: So yeah, that’s what I was going to say next. You should actually shortlist exhibitors online before you go to the show. And that makes it much easier. You can get a map of the show floor and then actually identify where each booth is and kind of make a walking route for you so you will save time. And then definitely get a lot of business cards printed, because it’s very common in China for people to exchange business cards. And then if you’re going to China, then get a VPN because a lot of the websites including Google, so all of Google’s websites and YouTube, Gmail, all of them are blocked.
Steve: That’s not true of Hong Kong though, is it?
Meghla: No, it’s not. Hong Kong, all of the websites are accessible in Hong Kong and you don’t need a VPN. Yeah. And then get a high capacity power bank, comfortable shoes, since you will do a lot of walking. And then I would also suggest to schedule factory tours when you are visiting the trade shows, because that really helps build relationships and takes things to the next level with your sourcing. And then do some sightseeing as well. And China is such a beautiful country, there’s a lot to do. Even Hong Kong, they’re very beautiful heights in Hong Kong.
Steve: Yeah. Like the Peak.
Meghla: The Peak yes. Have you done that?
Steve: I have yeah.
Meghla: Okay, cool. And then…
Steve: No, I was just going to — a common thing that people are afraid of when going to China is the language barrier. So if you were to go to Global Sources trade show, English is fine, right?
Meghla: Yes, English is fine, because Global Sources trade shows are held in Hong Kong. And most people in Hong Kong like even taxi drivers would speak English, some basic English so that’s not a problem at all. Whereas yes, you’re right, in Guangzhou and Canton Fair, there are fewer people who speak English in China for sure. I mean, taxi drivers do not speak English at all, not even a word of English. So you have to make sure that you have your hotel address with you in Chinese at all times so you don’t get lost.
Steve: Yes. I mean, in my opinion, Hong Kong is so much more fun than going to China. And so I don’t know. I mean, and there’s no language barrier, either. And it’s just like it feels like a more modern city to me, lots of great food and everything as well.
Meghla: Totally. And you don’t feel lost in Hong Kong, right. I mean it’s so easy to get around.
Meghla: All of your restaurant menu cards are in English, the information, signs, everything is in English.
Steve: It is not intimidating at all to go to Hong Kong; it’s slightly more intimidating to go into China and the Canton Fair.
Meghla: Exactly. Even the exhibitors at our shows, especially the electronics suppliers I found, they are better at English than other product categories, because multiple electronics factories are based in the Pearl River Delta region, which is closer to Hong Kong. So they tend to have better English speaking skills than people in factories and interior cities.
Steve: Can you talk a little bit about how you go about scheduling a factory tour because factories can be all over the place right?
Meghla: Yeah, so of course it totally depends on where your product is being manufactured and what product you’re sourcing. If you’re sourcing electronics, then it’s most probably going to be somewhere in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, which is in the south of China very close to Hong Kong. So Shenzhen is about one hour from Hong Kong and then Guangzhou is about two hours by road from Hong Kong. But if you’re sourcing, let’s say, I don’t know spatulas, plastics spatulas, they’re most likely to be in Zhejiang province, which is further north. Zhejiang is on the east of China. And it’s likely to be in a city called Ningbo that does a lot of the appliances and other products.
So I think what you have to keep in mind is that pick a city where you want to do a couple of factory tours because in China what happens is that there are production hubs for certain product categories. And so if you’re in that city, it’s easy to go from one factory to another, because they’re all in that city, and they’re nearby, whereas if you’re scheduling factory visits of different cities, you’ll be spending a lot of time traveling from one city to another because China is huge. So I think just be aware of where the factories are located for the products that you are sourcing. And yeah, make sure that they’re not too far apart.
Steve: So can you kind of describe the process in your experience, like would a vendor actually come and pick you up? Do you meet at the factory? What are the logistics?
Meghla: Yeah, it’s very common for the vendor to come pick you up from the airport. And so you just need to like communicate to them that okay, we’re coming at this time, and they’ll have somebody at the airport holding a sign board with your name on it, and then they’ll take you to the factory, they’ll take you around. They’ll most probably take you out for lunch or a meal.
Steve: Sometimes they’ll take you drinking, yes.
Meghla: They’ll take you drinking. Yeah. And they’ll make you drink baijiu.
Meghla: That is really very strong. I would not recommend having more than two shots.
Meghla: Yeah. And then if you want to go to another factory after that, they will even, if the factory is nearby, they will even drop you to the other factory because sometimes transportation can be very difficult in the interior cities of China. I remember I was traveling to this one factory a long time ago and there were — we were literally on a motorcycle taxi. There were no regular taxis no nothing, just a motorcycle taxi from going from one factory to another. That was not fun at all.
Steve: So Meghla, if it’s your first time, what would you recommend?
Meghla: So if it’s your first time and you’re sourcing, let’s say you’re sourcing gift products or home products.
Steve: Okay, so that’s third phase right.
Meghla: Yeah, that’s second phase.
Steve: Second phase okay.
Meghla: Second phase of Canton Fair.
Steve: Third phase is textiles.
Meghla: Yes, correct. So what I would suggest is visit both shows, Hong Kong Global Sources and Canton Fair. So Canton Fair is held right before Global Sources lifestyle fair. So what you can do is fly straight into Guangzhou if there is a direct flight to Guangzhou, because many times there aren’t direct flights, you have to go via Hong Kong. But if you can find a direct flight or even go to Hong Kong, that’s fine. But attend the Canton Fair first, and then come to Global Sources. If you want, you can attend the conference as well, and attend the trade show. And then you can go back to Canton Fair for phase three, if you do want to source fashion and textile products or you can go into Mainland China to visit your factories.
Steve: You what’s funny Meghla, I would recommend the opposite itinerary. I would recommend staying in Hong Kong, because it’s a lot more fun, the food is a lot better. And then if you want, go into take the train over to the Canton Fair, and then come back to Hong Kong.
Meghla: Yeah, but it depends. I mean, if you do want to visit factories right.
Steve: Of course.
Meghla: You go back to Hong Kong.
Steve: I just like Hong Kong so much better.
Meghla: Yeah that’s true. And then you also have to keep in mind that if you are going to go back into China, you want to get a multiple entry visa for China. So that’s very important to keep in mind. And many people have got stuck because of this. And you do not require a visa to go to Hong Kong, like most nationalities don’t. But for China, you do require a visa. So make sure that you get your visa at least a couple of weeks before you plan on going to China.
Steve: Yeah for sure, for sure. Well, hey Meghla, we’ve been talking for quite a while and I don’t want to keep you because it’s part of your work day there. It’s late at night over here. Where can people find more information about Global Sources and the exhibition and the trade show?
Meghla: Yeah, so for the exhibitions, people can go to GlobalSources.com/exhibitions. That’s where you can get all of the information about all the various trade shows that we host. For the summit, its GlobalSources.com/summit, that’s the URL.
Steve: And do you have a sampling of some of the speakers that are going to be there this year in April?
Meghla: Yeah, absolutely. So one of your judges at 5 Minute Pitch Mike Jackness.
Meghla: He is a speaker this time yeah.
Steve: He’s great.
Meghla: He’s actually spoken a couple of times.
Steve: He’s a great speaker.
Meghla: He’s amazing. I love yeah, I love his part. And then we have Kevin King, who’s coming to speak, David Bryant, who is Mike’s partner. And then Lilan Hirschkorn, Tim Jordan. He does a lot of good stuff related to sourcing. And then we have Sophie Howard from New Zealand. She’s actually — she has her own course and she does a lot of sourcing from India and Vietnam and other non-China kind of locations. So that’s something that we’re seeing a lot of interest in, and we’re covering the topic of that. And then we’ve got CJ Rosenbaum is also coming.
Steve: Aha, the Amazon sellers’ lawyer yes.
Meghla: Amazon sellers’ lawyer, that’s correct. And then we have Sean Smith, Chris Rawlings from JudoLaunch. I’m looking forward to his presentation.
Steve: It sounds like a rock star speaking lineup.
Meghla: It is yeah.
Steve: Well Meghla, thanks a lot for coming on the show. I really appreciate your feedback and your advice on sourcing and trade shows and the like and I think all the listeners will benefit from it.
Meghla: Thank you so much Steve.
Steve: All right. Take care.
Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now the Global Sources Summit is actually going on right now. So if you’re in Hong Kong, make sure you look for Meghla and say hi to her. For more information about this episode, go to Mywifequitherjob.com/episode254.
And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subs. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. Now if you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
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Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.