Product sourcing during travel restrictions

Published: 21-09-2020

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One of the main challenges for international buyers is to find reliable suppliers who can provide desirable products under the quality standards at reasonable prices. 


Before the pandemic, global exhibitions and trade shows were effective methods for sourcing in Asia. Buyers and sellers from all over the world attended international events to identify new sources of supply and find business partners. Some of the most popular fairs in Asia were The Canton Fair, The Yiwu Commodities Fair, The Shanghai Import and Export Commodity Fair, among others, not to mention the specialized fairs by industry. 


However, because of the pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions companies were unable to attend industry events. The major trade fairs were canceled this year. 


An alternative to trade fairs


Fortunately, professional meetings are not the only way to find a reliable supplier from Asia. 

With the development of technology, companies can easily source products without leaving home on electronic platforms, like,, and 


The online marketplace connects potential buyers and sellers around the world. This allows both entrepreneurs and companies to have an access to purchase products from different parts of the world without the need to leave their country. During the coronavirus pandemic, B2B platforms have become a strategic tool for many businesses as they have chosen this method to continue satisfying their needs for new suppliers.


Online sourcing risk factors and solutions


In times of global financial crisis, regardless of the industry and scale of the purchase, every penny counts. As a result, more companies have turned their eyes toward suppliers from the Asian region that can provide cheaper materials and goods. However, an indiscreet strategy of sourcing from low-cost countries can backfire, since a multitude of invisible supply chain risks may incur hidden costs and subsequently offset cost-saving opportunities.


Examples of such risks include long lead time, volatile foreign currency exchange, customs duties, greasy payment, regulatory restrictions, damage/loss during transit, communication barriers, and lax quality standards. 


In this regard, the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China in coordination with Chinese authorities and business organizations, are taking the lead in organizing and promoting this new hybrid model of virtual business meetings where international buyers can have one-on-one meetings with Chinese suppliers from different industries.


It is clear that this virtual-directed model is serving during the period of the pandemic, however, it is very likely that, in the medium and long term, this model will take on greater relevance as companies will reduce travel costs by taking advantage of the developing of the information technologies and communication tools.

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