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Canton e-Fair revives global supply chain

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-29 07:09

Employees of a Qingdao, Shandong province-based treadmill company display products via livestreaming during the Canton Fair on June 15. [Photo/Xinhua]

Like thousands of other companies, Guangzhou Light Holding has no complaints, and could have gone laughing all the way to the bank.

Industry experts believe this year's summer session of the Canton Fair, which coincided with the incipient post-COVID economic recovery in China, may have helped stabilize the global supply and industrial chains.

"The decision to turn the fair into an online event this summer was quite unexpected. Our foreign buyers feel fresh and are very interested in knowing about it. For our clients in Colombia, Chile and other faraway places, it wasn't easy to come to China, given the COVID scene," said Liu Zhou, sales manager of Guangzhou Double Fish Sporting Goods Group Co Ltd, during the event.

The company held 20 livestreaming sessions to display and sell its products online.

To be sure, the Guangzhou event did have physical stalls at the regular venue. But it was open only to exhibitors (sellers), organizers, and select invitees.

There were 50 exhibition areas covering 16 categories of commodities and goods, like home appliances, food, chemical, textiles and clothing. The event attracted over 25,000 Chinese and foreign sellers and more than 200,000 buyers, including those online.

Liu said although foreign buyers have been accepting livestreaming, the challenge is for sellers to be sincere toward buyers.

Zhu Puzhen, general manager of Guangzhou Light Holding, said the company hired highly paid professionals including online celebrities to train its business staff, and to promote online sales.

Zhu said the online event is a pioneering initiative because no trade fair was held entirely online ever before. When international travel was still restricted, holding the trade fair online was the best option.

The sellers showcased 1.8 million products and services in various forms, including images, videos and 3D formats, to match their suppliers with buyers round the clock.

Foreign buyers could register on the 24-hour livestreaming platform and start purchase negotiations at any time during the exhibition period. All companies were exempt from exhibition fees to bolster international trade during the challenging period.

Gu Jin, deputy general manager of the overseas business department at China General Technology Group, a State-owned machinery exporter, said the company did not experience any time or location limitations. It could showcase its products and service solutions with ease.

"In the previous fairs, due to the relatively small booth size, we were able to exhibit only certain small equipment," sad Gu. "But this time, we could display large machinery on the digital platform, and even demonstrate our production processes and technologies online, not just the products."

Apart from using well-known digital platforms such as Google and Facebook, as well as a number of social media apps, buyers from home and abroad could easily access exhibits while watching livestreamed content, said Li Jinqi, deputy director-general of the Canton Fair's organizing committee.

Li said there were a variety of online communication tools to help buyers and sellers interact in real time as well as improve the efficiency and effectiveness of online negotiations.

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