The 128th China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) concluded its
10-day virtual affair last month, the Autumn edition of the world's
largest trade show an inspiration for event planners keen to execute the
But this success story didn't come without growing pains.
In its opening ceremony "on the cloud" in Guangzhou on 15 October,
the host referenced how the Spring edition of the Canton Fair first
moved online in June, marking a first in the show's 63-year history. The
127th Canton Fair went on to attract 150,000 viewers on the first day,
but resulted in only three enquires.
To remedy this, the team quickly made tweaks to improve communication
between buyers and sellers by hosting a series of online and offline
supporting events to boost international trade.
This included 38 virtual business matching events hosted in 37
countries and regions, and six business associations from Africa, Europe
and Asia joined Canton Fair Global Cooperative Partnership Program.
"The 128th Canton Fair has initiated a business matchmaking program
by building an online communication platform to facilitate global buyers
seeking business partnerships in China when offline trade fairs are
extremely limited," said Yu Yi, deputy director general of foreign
affairs office of Canton Fair.
The virtual business matching events connected nearly 200 buyers from
France, Tanzania, UAE and Ukraine, with 16 Canton Fair exhibitors which
presented their products ranging from home appliances, building
materials, lighting products, textiles to machines and hardware
As a mark of its successful pivot to online, the Canton Fair welcomed
buyers from an unprecedented 226 countries and regions, with the
virtual platform receiving 51.17 million visits, including over 7.89
million visits to the virtual exhibition halls.
More than 26,000 exhibitors representing over 30 countries showcased
over 2.47 million products. Among these, 730,000 were new releases
launched specifically at the Fair, marking an 21.6% increase from 2019.
This included the use big data, cloud computing and artificial
intelligence, offering an immersive experience to buyers through the use
of graphics, videos, 3D and virtual reality (VR) platforms. Customised
livestreaming showrooms were also a hit, with 1.89 million people tuning
Some positive comments from buyers touched on how the virtual event
delivered exceptional user experience — from methods of browsing new
products, discovering technologies, learning market insights, to joining
an interactive chat session.