BEIJING — E-commerce could make a big splash in the second half of this year’s fashion, textile and accessories trade shows in greater China, organizers said, with plans to broaden the on-site use of trade platforms taking advantage of the Internet.
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Several trade shows plan to integrate e-commerce platforms into their overall show design, offering customers opportunities to link with suppliers online even as they meet in person.
E-commerce was put into the mix at the Dalian International Garment & Textile Fair last year, and a marketing manager with the show said he expects it to grow in use this year. The Dalian show has connected with online trade platform giants Alibaba and Taobao. Global Sources, which runs its own series of trade shows across China and Hong Kong, has a popular online trading platform that predated much of its trade show business.
“Visitors and exhibitors registered actively last year, and we will continue to use the service this year,” said Gao Liying, head of the planning department for the Dalian textile fair, which runs Sept. 3 to 6 in the northern port city. “The methods of trade are changing and always becoming more convenient.”
But that’s not to say online commerce will replace the value of face-to-face meetings, handling products and making deals in China and Hong Kong. Rather, organizers said they hope adding the Internet will simply enhance and augment the trade show experience, cementing long-term relationships between buyers and sellers.
On another note, several fair organizers said they expect vendor and visitor numbers this summer and fall to keep pace with last year, despite rising prices.
China is facing new pressures from higher minimum wages and continually rising costs of raw materials. The ongoing push has forced consumer prices up, with a 5.4 percent rise in the consumer price index in March over the same month last year — the highest pace in nearly two years. Despite price pressures, trade show organizers are upbeat about business prospects.
They said companies are bringing in fresh ideas and developing new fabrics and other products, hoping to move up the value chain as China eases away from being the land of cheap labor and low-cost manufactured goods. Buyers are prepared for higher prices, but it’s unclear how costs will affect turnout and the number of deals made at shows during the second half of this year.
“I don’t think (price increases) will have a major effect,” said Lin Jing, exhibition project manager for the China Guangzhou International Fashion Exhibition, set for Sept. 8 to 10. “The price of everything is rising, as production costs have increased. So it’s normal that the price of products will increase, as well.”
Besides business concerns, trade shows are on message about showcasing vendors with creative wares, new products and innovative techniques. The message underscores China’s greater overall push to move from a manufacturing-based economy to an innovation society. The government has undertaken a major push to reward firms that innovate and create, and potentially drive out those only interested in making low-end products for low wages. The results may be seen in this year’s shows.
The Shenzhen International Trade Fair for Apparel Fabrics & Accessories, running July 7 to 9, expects a slight increase from last year’s 760 vendors. Shen Yongfang, secretary of the Shenzhen Municipal Garment Association, said the group’s fair this summer will focus on innovation and on showcasing China’s culture through products.
“We predict that this year’s trade show will produce relatively big developments in areas of designing, creation, information, service and international purchasing and cooperation,” said Shen.