Our December 2016 webinar entitled Going to China? Get Your Questions Answered featured a panel of six Amazon and China experts. In case you missed the webinar, we’re providing everyone with the show notes, audio replay and slides from the webinar in this blog post—not to mention our top tips about traveling to China.
Planning a trip to China doesn’t need to be as stressful as it sounds. First-time travelers should outsource any of the paperwork and requirements they don’t understand or don’t want to deal with. The most common thing travelers outsource is their Chinese visa. There is a myriad of concierge services available. Travelers have the option of choosing either a travel or business visa. A travel visa is good for one year and a business visa is good for 10 years. See show notes below for links.
Going with other people can remove much of the confusion from traveling to China for the first time. Going with other people is a great way to open up a dialogue about sourcing products to sell on Amazon. It’s also a great networking opportunity that can lead to new friendships.
With more than 4 million square feet of floor space and 60,000 booths, the Canton Fair can be quite overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important that travelers have an agenda planned before stepping inside the world’s largest tradeshow. The biggest advantage of visiting the Canton Fair is the ability to receive instant feedback on products you may want to source. And since it costs around $50,000 to have a booth at the fair, only the top suppliers are at the fair. This means you’ll get world-class service from some of the top suppliers in the world. Make sure you validate any licensing before you agree to any contract. If you find a product at the show you want to source, you can air freight forward a shipment through a broker before you leave. Plan on paying $7 per kilogram for air freight forwarding.
China’s internet, as most people know, is behind the “Great Firewall of China,” which means access to sites like Google and Facebook are prohibited. Travelers will need to unlock their phones or purchase an unlocked phone for use in China to accommodate a Chinese SIM card. Travelers will also need to set up a VPN for their phone and computer so they can access sites like Google and Facebook while abroad.
Travelers need to download the WeChat app for their phones and computers because it will be the number one way to communicate within China. Also, sellers should have new business cards made before going to China with a QR code that links to their WeChat profile. This will come in handy when meeting with hundreds of manufacturers at the Canton Fair.
A translator will make your trip in China much smoother but it is not necessary. Sellers can navigate and communicate at the Canton Fair with English just fine. Oftentimes, you are taken more serious by Chinese manufacturers if you speak English instead of Chinese.
Travelers should bring Chinese cash and a debit card with them. Many travelers have discovered that their American and other Western credit cards aren’t accepted in China. You’ll want to research common scams with ATMs, taxis and hotels before you travel. You can also avoid most scams by traveling in a group.
The two easiest ways to get to China—and Guangzhou specifically—are by either flying into Hong Kong and taking a train to the mainland or just by flying directly to Guangzhou. The latter method requires travelers to have their visas beforehand. You can get an overnight visa in Hong Kong if that’s what you’d prefer. Flights typically cost anywhere from $600 to $1,200 from the United States.