Podcast

Episode 86: Summit, Shipping and Tips for Sellers With Cameron Walker of Global Sources

My guest today is Cameron Walker, the president of the Gifts, Home, and Hardware division of Global Sources. I met Cameron last year and he is a great guy who can help you get your bearings if this is your first Global Sources. As a reminder, Global Sources Summit will be October 17-19.

We will discuss the upcoming speakers, events, and new subjects that an attendee can learn about during this year’s Global Sources Summit. I have mentioned several times that I will be speaking at the summit this year. A couple of my topics this year are “10 Sourcing Fails” and “10 Ways to Increase Profitability.” Cameron and I offer some friendly advice for getting your company ready to sell in China. We also have some travel tips you might find useful. Bottom line, there is a lot of helpful and practical information in today’s episode, so don’t miss it!

Here are today’s points:

  • What is Global Sources?
  • 3 Resources Global Sources offers international sellers.
  • What you can expect at the Global Sources Summit.
  • Many sellers aren’t aware of these different shipping options.
  • How 1688.com can help you negotiate the best price.
  • China’s recent crackdown on environmental hazards and what that means for your business.
  • Why you need to know about the currency exchange in China.
  • The importance of registering your I.P. (intellectual property) before your manufacturer.
  • Some travel tips for listeners going to the summit this year.

If you are interested in attending Global Resource this year we have a special discount code (3ec50) for our listeners that will take $50 off the ticket price! However, this offer will expire on September 15th, so hurry over to the site for your tickets.

I will also be speaking at EcommerceFuel Live in Laguna Beach, CA January 11-13, 2018. I believe that event is sold out, so if you got your tickets ahead of time I’ll see you there!

We have some sponsors to thank as well. The first is Stamped.io, which is a great tool if you need to get some quality reviews for your Shopify store. The second is AsiaInspection, both Dave and I use AsiaInspection when we have to inspect a shipment from China. Both of these sponsors are great partners and we’re happy to have a relationship with them.

Resources Mentioned Today:

1688.com

AsiaInspection

EcommerceFuel Live

Global Sources Catalog

Global Sources Exhibitions

Global Sources Summit

Great World

Stamped.io

If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast you can now email us directly at ecomcrew.com!  Just send those emails to [email protected] Also, we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike: This is Mike and welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast episode number 86. Today I’m excited to have a guest with me. Before I get him on, I just want to tell you guys about a couple things that are going on. Actually the guest I have is from Global Sources, and I’ve been kind of telling you guys about my travel schedule and my speaking engagements.

So again remember Global Sources is October 17th through 19th. If you sign up with the code 3EC50, that’ll get you 50 bucks off. This episode should go out on Thursday September 14th. So just remember that the early bird discount ends on September 15th. So if you’re going to go to Global Sources which I highly recommend that you do, definitely sign up with the affiliate code, get yourself 50 bucks off, and get the early bird price.

Then after that I’ll be at EcommerceFuel, January 11th through 13th in Laguna, California. And before we bring on our guest, I just want to mention again that the podcast is sponsored by Stamped.io. So if you need reviews for your Shopify store, definitely check them out. And also AsiaInspection; if you go to EcomCrew.com/inspection and sign up that way, you will get a dedicated account manager that follows our processes and helps you get stuff into Amazon a lot smoother than just kind of going at it alone.

So without any further ado, I’m going to bring on Cameron. Cameron is someone I met last year actually out at Global Sources, just an awesome guy. We had lunch together, talked several times in the hallway. He is the president of Gifts, Home, and Hardware for Global Sources, and he’s a big presence out there at the show; lives in Shenzhen, China. And we’re going to butt heads as we were talking earlier, China over Hong Kong, it’s not so bad. We’ll talk about all that and a bunch more. Without further ado, welcome to the show Cameron.

Cameron: Thanks very much Mike, it’s awesome to be here.

Mike: Yeah definitely fun to have you on the podcast. It’s crazy we met, I guess it’s been four or five months ago now. We’re finally just getting on the podcast. So it’s fun to finally have you here.

Cameron: Yeah that’s right, and we’re looking forward to seeing you, Dave, and everyone else at the summit, and the trade shows in a couple months.

Mike: Yeah looking forward to speaking, and I got a couple really cool talks coming up there. For those of the guys that are listening, we have a lot of new podcast listeners the last few months. So for those that aren’t aware of what Global Sources is and what they do, can you give like a little background on exactly what you guys are and what you do?

Cameron: Yeah absolutely. So Global Sources as a company has been around for 45 years. Our mission has always been the same, which is to connect B2B buyers all over the world with suppliers, B2B suppliers. For the last — at the very beginning, 45 years ago that was mainly Hong Kong, Japanese, Taiwanese, Singapore suppliers. But obviously as China has opened up in the last 20 to 30 years, most of those are now Chinese suppliers.

So we do that through a couple different channels. Number one is our online catalog, so GlobalSources.com. You can go take a look, it’s similar to some of the other catalogs out there where you can search for a keyword, find products, find suppliers, communicate through our platform with them and hopefully find a supplier that’s right for your order.

Second of all we have our trade shows, Global Sources exhibitions. So those are April and October in Hong Kong. We have three phases. So first is consumer electronics. Second is mobile electronics together with gifts and home. And the third is the fashion shows which are joint phase three. We just talked a little bit about the Global Sources Summit which is October 17th to 19th. It’s basically paired together with the phase two of our trade shows.

And what that is, is basically three days of training for online sellers with most of the content geared towards those selling on Amazon, and those that are kind of intermediate to advanced sellers. So that’s kind of in a nutshell at a very high level what Global Sources does.

Mike: Cool, yeah and I’ll be talking about a couple other things. The first one is just 10 sourcing fails, just to kind of give people an idea of the types of talks that are there. You guys asked me to talk about some sourcing fails, things that Dave and I have had happen, and we got a couple others from people on our network that have had happen. So just things that people can be doing to make sure that they don’t find themselves up the creek without a paddle on their ship when it arrives.

The other one I’m doing on the third day is 10 ways to increase profitability in your importing business. I think the thing that people focus on way too much is the top line revenue, and don’t think about the profitability. So those are a couple things that that I’ll be talking about. I know just off the top of my head from people that I remember from last year. C.J. was there from Amazon Sellers’ Lawyer who we’ve had on the podcast now. We actually just contracted out to help us with an issue.

There was a couple different people on there talking about like IP rights in China, a couple really cool success stories. I hope you guys have a couple more of those this year, people that were just talking about their products and things that they had found at Global Sources that kind of became an overnight success. It’s always fun to see things like that. And yeah so it’s a wide variety of stuff that is both educational and anecdotal from just kind of a business standpoint for me. I really enjoy that stuff as well. So anything special, the size, that type of stuff that’s coming up this time in these coming shows?

Cameron: Well okay so let’s talk a little bit first about the summit. The summit is, like you said we’ve got — I mean the speakers are getting better and better, and we do have lots of success stories. We have a panel of million dollar sellers, we’ve got mastermind this time which if you go to Global Sources.com/summit, you can kind of take a look at what we do at the summit. It’s a little bit more sourcing focused than some of the other events that people have probably been to.

Obviously we are in Hong Kong with the trade shows, so people are coming to source. So there is a little bit more content on like you said compliance, how to source, that kind of thing. The first day is the content space about source smarter. The second day is sell better, and the third day is profit more. So for instance your part on sourcing fails is in the first day. Your part on profitability will be on the third day. But the content, I mean it’s pretty amazing. I think if anyone goes and checks out the agenda, I mean you recognize a lot of the names as either famous sellers on Amazon, or from some other places, from the Facebook groups or from wherever.

Mike: Yeah I know someone like Bernie Thompson is going to be there. He’s a ten, or eight figure seller, sorry, someone that’s really well known out there, and a couple other guys as well; it’s definitely a cool group.

Cameron: Yeah I talked to Bernie last four months ago at the show, super interesting guy, data driven, just willing to give away the farm in terms of knowledge; he’s like very willing to share.

Mike: Yeah definitely a cool guy. So I mean talk about giving away the farm or knowledge. We have a few things that we want to talk about. Cameron actually threw an e-mail together for me, and just some things that he wants to talk about, some things that I also want to talk about. So let’s kind of dig into that and give people some value of some things that you might be hearing about at Global Sources, but just also things that are kind of current and pertinent these days, just in the world of selling on Amazon and just in general importing stuff in China.

So the first one is just you had here was just some different shipping options. A couple of these things that show on your list, I wasn’t even aware of, so I’m excited talk about it live here on the show. So let’s talk about some of the different like new shipping options from China into FBA for USA sellers.

Cameron: Okay so especially now with Q4 coming up, everyone’s very kind of tight on time. And what you hear when you go into the Facebook groups or you talk to people, what you hear is basically three options in terms of shipping. You hear people talking about air express which basically means just using the couriers UPS and DHL and FedEx and whatnot. Then you hear about air freight which people talk about as basically air from China to the airport in the US, and then you basically have to figure it out from there, and they talk about sea shipping.

Those are kind of the standard talking points when people are talking about shipping. The reality is that if you talk to your supplier, and your supplier —   there’s tons of shipping agents in China. So every supplier can talk to various tons of shipping agents. There’s a lot of options in between. And what I mean by that is things like you can go — air express is very expensive. You might pay 41 Renminbi per kilogram. So that’s — I don’t know, six and a half dollars or something like that.

But if you’re willing to have it wait a couple more days, you might go down to five dollars and fifty cents. If you’re willing to have it wait 12 to 15 days to get there, then you’re getting into four dollars and fifty cents or even lower prices. And what some of those options are, they’re not really — you won’t get a DHL or a FedEx tracking number that goes all the way from Shenzhen or from Yiwu into the FBA center.

What you’ll get is a UPS or a FedEx tracking number that starts in California, or starts somewhere in the US. So what they’ve done is basically put two channels together. They put it on air freight over to the US, and then they’ve done — they’ve organized the UPS, the customs clearance for you, and they’ve also already organized the UPS ground or the FedEx ground for you.

So the benefit is that it’s cheaper by quite a bit maybe, 20 to 30, 40% depending on who you use. But it’s still door to door. So once the supplier ships it, you really don’t have to worry about it.

Mike: Got you, that makes a lot of sense. So but I guess still there’s nothing better obviously or cheaper than sea freight, just you got to wait a lot longer for that.

Cameron: So sea freight yeah. The cheapest is definitely you do FCL, so you do a full container load. There’s nothing cheaper than that. But there are options on sea freight as well. So people do the same thing with sea freight which is the per cubic meter. You can LCL, so you can do less than a container load, and they will also organize the ground shipping after it gets to the US.

So you might pay something like, I’ve seen rates like $275 per cubic meter, which is 275, a twenty foot container is about — for a full container that would be $5,500, which you wouldn’t — that would be maybe on the expensive side for a full 20 foot container. But when you’re only shipping one cubic meter, actually that’s pretty good, and you’re still looking at 45 days there.

So there’s a lot of FBA sellers that think that LCL, less than a container load, is a huge pain to do, and they don’t really know how to do it. But if you talk more to your suppliers, you might find that actually they have some shipping agents that can do it for you. And if you’re willing to wait the 45 to 50 days, actually you can get stuff in very cheaply even if your volume is not that high.

Mike: Yeah, and that’s how we’ve been doing almost all of our shipping that we started out almost all less of a container load. And now we just kind of figured out logistically that the way to save money in this business is what we just take. So we try to do almost all full container loads if we can. But obviously if you’re just getting started, that’s not feasible, but you can still definitely do duty free, and get your stuff in at a good price.

I’ve been using a company called Great World, we’ve talked about them before on this podcast, so we’re not affiliated with them in any way, just someone that I’ve used, and Dave uses another company, I’ve forgotten the name right now. But there’s lots of them out there. And if you go out to Global Sources or something like the Canton Fair, there’s tons of companies out there that are out there representing these services.

So the next thing out of your list is — and I’m not even aware of this website, and I’m going to probably pronounce it wrong or say wrong, is it 1688 or 1-6-8-8 or how people say this website.

Cameron: So it’s 1688.com. And basically what that is is it’s a Chinese language website. So you’re going to have to either Google Translate or you’re going to have to get someone you know who reads Chinese to help you with it. But what it is, is it’s a wholesale domestic website in China. So sellers are often looking for what’s the lowest price that I can get, and then negotiating with the suppliers.

And the best, I guess the best practice is tactics surely read in English is to just hit two different suppliers against each other, and kind of figure out what the baseline price is through that. But the reality is that if you — I mean more sophisticated people or at least people who speak Chinese or some of the sellers in China, they’re going to be going to 1688, and they’re going to be searching for similar products, and they’re going to seeing what domestic China pricing for those products is, and then starting from there when they want to know what the baseline prices are.

Mike: So when a manufacturer tells you like this is our best price, you go search 1688, and if it is way out of whack with what’s on there, you’re probably not getting the actual best price?

Cameron: Absolutely. So I mean everything is on there. It’s a wholesale market, everything you can possibly think of is there, and there’s probably multiple suppliers selling it. So if you’re talking to a trading company about shipping to you overseas, there’s a very good chance that the factory that actually manufactures it for them is on that website.

Mike: Interesting, got you. But this isn’t really necessarily a way to find manufacturers, just a way to price check.

Cameron: It’s – I mean for — so Chinese sellers are probably finding manufacturers there. But I’d say for kind of new or even intermediate Amazon sellers, or people with kind of good Chinese skills, obviously it’s more of a price check than a finding suppliers’ channel.

Mike: Got you. Okay so like the main factor for you to be able to use it for finding suppliers would be if you have someone on your staff or know someone that is fluent in Chinese.

Cameron: Yeah and also I mean if you work with a lot of suppliers on there, you’re going to find that a lot of them don’t have export licenses, they’re really domestic focused. So if you have the capability to take an Ex Works price and get it out of China and all that, then maybe you can work with a lot of suppliers there. But if you need the supplier to have an export license, you need them to help you with shipping overseas, then you really use it as a price check.

Mike: Got you, and just for our listeners, if you don’t know what Ex Works is, basically if you were having it picked up directly from the manufacturer from their warehouse versus that FOB price and where it’s going, to the way manufacturer is delivering it to the port and handling, getting it into the port for you. And so it’s – I mean my Great World can handle that for us, so we can definitely Ex Works, we’ve done that before. You just gotta make sure that you’re working with someone who can handle that part.

Cool. So the next on the list here is actually something I really want to talk about anyway. So I was really happy that you threw this on your list. And it’s frustrating as it just seems like in business always there’s always like you’re always going to be up from every angle, all right. And right now China is really cracking down on environmental stuff. I know that we could pay – Donald Trump pulled out of Paris of course, but China is still kind of going full steam ahead with this, and for good reason.

I mean this is like one of these things where I’m actually happy in some ways that I’m paying a little bit more for these prices, because even to someone that just travels to China periodically, having to breathe that air is like is gross. And I can only imagine living there and the respiratory problems that people have especially in further north in China like up towards Shanghai and Beijing where it gets even worse.

China is really cracking down, it’s basically their version of the EPA is stopping black smoke billowing in the air and stopping factories from just dumping whatever they want into the rivers. And obviously if you’re having to curtail that stuff, it costs more to make things. And we have definitely been getting beat up for us especially on paper products as we do a lot with packaging like higher end packaging. Paper products are definitely getting more expensive, things like plastics are getting more expensive. So yeah let’s talk about that, just like what have you been seeing specifically, Cameron just in your world there as far as price increases and specifically what’s taken the hardest hit?

Cameron: Sure. So the problem with China is it’s quite opaque. You’re never — there’s not going to be a very, very clear policy that comes down and everyone knows exactly what’s going on. That’s the problem. What we have seen is that — I mean really starting from late last year, so 2016. 2016, people probably started to have suppliers complain about the price of boxes and cardboard and start to really talk about how the raw materials for cardboard was going up like crazy. So that might have been kind of what you’ve seen. That was also partially environmental, an environmental crackdown.

But lately in the last two or three months, what’s happened is a massive crackdown all over China. So in the north, in the kind of the central China, and then also in the south, in Guangdong where they manufacture pretty much everything, industries that have been affected, you just kind of talked about them. Another one that’s really been affected is anything that has to do with coating. So that’s like painting, that’s like plating. So anything, if you want to chrome treat any metal, if you want to powder coat anything, so if you have any metal that’s powder coated, that stuff is all — there’s a lot of factories that have been shut down, because those industries are super polluting if they’re not done correctly. And there’s a lot that are kind of in limbo right now.

So they may be okay, but they’re afraid. So they’re not producing right now, or they’re not really sure if they’re allowed to produce, and they’re not sure when they’re going to be able to reopen. So the main – I’ve sent you an article and you can kind of put that in the show notes and people can read it, people can also kind of search online. The main point is that when your supplier tells you that you should look into it, but they’re not — it’s not necessarily them making up a story, it might be absolutely true.

Mike: Yeah, I definitely, I don’t know, I’m always skeptical of this. When I heard this the first time, I was like yeah whatever. Like price of materials is one of my bar, you’ll just give me a low price to start with, then this is what you’re doing. But I mean now it’s been pretty much more publicized, and I’m hearing this over and over again from a lot of manufacturers like I said especially with the paper products.

But at the end of the day like I said I mean at least it’s kind of going to a good cause. Like I mean you live over there, it’s not nearly as bad in Shenzhen as it is like when I went up to Shanghai, and I’ve heard there’s absolute horror stories about Beijing. And if it’s fixing a problem there, it’s probably good for the greater good of the world in a lot of ways.

Cameron: Yeah absolutely. I mean they’re taking it seriously. Like you said I’ve been in China since 2003, so I’ve kind of seen the progression. I’ve also lived — I lived in Beijing for three and a half years, so I’ve lived through that smog. I’ve lived in central and in the south and Shenzhen like if I look out the window right now it’s a blue sky. So Shenzhen is nice almost all the time, and it’s gotten a lot better in the last five years. But Shenzhen is on the coast, so you get a lot of wind coming in to blow everything away in the north, and there’s a lot of it that gets trapped. So I mean I think they know that it’s something they need to address, and it’s kind of finding that balance point.

Mike: Yup. So let’s talk about another thing that’s painful that doesn’t help the world at least via importing as just the RMB man. It’s been getting stronger and stronger. I just looked it up the other day and it was like six and a half to one, and I think the first time I went over there was almost eight to one. So what’s been influencing that specifically, do you have any thoughts on that?

Cameron: Yeah so what’s happened in the last let’s say six months is the Renminbi has gone from seven to one US dollar to about six and a half. So it’s about a 7% move. If you look at all the currencies in the world against the US dollar, the US dollar has been depreciating. The thing is in the past China, the Renminbi has been relatively stable with the US dollar. And the problem for suppliers that they are encountering, and we’re encountering the same problem here at Global Sources is that this was completely unexpected.

We actually expected it to go the other direction. So everyone was expecting the Renminbi to depreciate from 6.9 to 7.2 or 7.3, which would have meant that exporting products would be cheaper in US dollars. But it actually swung 7% the other way, which means that if your supplier six months ago was you were pushing really hard on pricing, and he was being very aggressive, and assuming that the currency would depreciate, then he might be in a real bind right now.

Mike: Yeah, luckily we haven’t had anybody push us back on this. We obviously buy everything in US dollars. We’ve worked with our manufacturers to get that pricing if they operated in RMB. We never want to deal with the currency fluctuation, but yeah I know that these conversations are going to start coming in as it continues to strengthen. So hopefully it won’t get any worse, but I mean is there is any – do you know any economic pressures, and I’m always curious with this stuff, I read a lot about politics, just world economic stuff. I mean I haven’t really been able to pinpoint exactly what’s made it go the opposite direction. Do you know anything specifically that’s causing it?

Cameron: One thing I think is just the general US dollar decline. So if you look at Japanese Yen, if you look at Canadian dollars, if you look at Australian dollars, Euros, pounds, it’s all moving in the same direction.

Mike: Got you, okay. All right, well moving on to the next uncomfortable thing to talk about is just IP horror stories over in Asia. I mean we just ran into something ourselves that I’m going to talk about here for a minute in just a second. But the one thing I took away from Global Sources last year was to make sure you’re registering your IP at both the US and China. And we’ve been really good about doing that in the US even though it was a big thing when I left Asia last time. We didn’t get it done, and that’s something we’re definitely going to make a high priority this year when we go over there. I’m talking to someone who can help us with that and make sure we get registered in China.

But let’s talk about some of the BS that some of these manufacturers have done over there because like once they register your — they can actually register your trademark, and then it’s hard for you to get it back. There was a guy; I think his name was Michael, right, that talked about that. What was his name last year, the guy that spoke about this at length?

Cameron: Mike Bellamy.

Mike: Bellamy, I think it was last seminar. So he was talking about this, and definitely something I want to do, and I’m kind of mad that we haven’t done it yet. But I mean let’s talk about some of the things that you’ve seen happen over there in the crap world.

Cameron: So there’s two things that I’ve kind of heard about. Number one is your manufacturer or somebody close to your manufacturer registering your trademark in China. So that’s kind of — and that doesn’t normally happen. But if you have some sort of a problem with your supplier, and you start to have conflict there, that’s probably something that you have to look out for. And what that supplier will do is basically — has happened in the past is they’ll use that as a leverage point with you.

So China is first to register not first to use when it comes to these trademarks. So that means whoever registers at first at least theoretically has the right to use that trademark in China. So it’s getting better is what I’ve heard, and if that happens to you, you may be able to defend it, but it will cost you a ton of money and a ton of time. And it’s much better just to stop that as a possibility by registering your trademark in China right away.

Mike: So this happened to us. We had a manufacturer, we developed some gel pens, the pens themselves have unique names and a color numbering scheme on them which is copyrighted in the US just virtue of being the first to use it. If you write a book or write any type of content in the US, it’s protected in our copyright law, and it’s plagiarism if someone steals it. Well the manufacturer in China — either the exact manufacturer that we use or another one; we’re still trying to uncover this — printed everything with our names on them, and luckily in US we’re covered, and we’re going to get these products delisted off Amazon.

I’m pretty ticked about it, so I’m going to take the full route so that I can deal with, but we hired a lawyer to help with this to get these delisted. But yeah I mean definitely make sure you get your stuff trademarked in China. It’s definitely going to be a high priority for us. We just hired a new director of e-commerce, and this is something I’m probably going to talk to you about as soon as I hang up out of this podcast. But yeah I mean I think that’s just one of these things where like you said; it’s cheaper to do it now than to deal with it later.

Someone over there decides that it’s funny to register your trademark and start selling your products within China or elsewhere. You don’t need to go very far in China to realize that they don’t really care about this stuff. I mean there’s ten different Starbucks equivalents, or I saw like a TGI like Frodays or something.

They don’t really care about the stuff over there. And for them to register your IP there and be the first one to do it, to them it’s just opportunistic right there. It’s not like immoral or like there’s anything really wrong with it. It’s just kind of a different way of culture over there. So do you have any resources specifically to help with that or just kind of do a Google search and find somebody?

Cameron: I can probably find some; I can probably find some for you. I don’t have anybody off the top of my head. One thing I would say is that if you came to China 15 years ago, you might have seen 50 different Starbucks copies. Now you only see two or three.

Mike: Right.

Cameron: So the direction is definitely — I mean because I mean it’s obvious China is developing. China has its own IP now. So China has famous companies, China has famous trademarks that they want to protect. So the direction is definitely moving towards protection, but it’s a big ocean, and they got a lot of ground to cover.

Mike: Yeah no doubt. So we have a few minutes left here of the podcast. I mean we had a couple of fun travel tips stuff that you kind of ran down, and I love talking about the stuff. Obviously I’ve been out there, this will be my 6th trip, and you actually live there. I think you’re Canadian right, so you moved there from Canada, what, 10 or 15 years ago I guess?

Cameron: Yeah, I moved right after I graduated from university, so 2002. I ended up in Hong Kong for six months, and then moved to China in 2003, and there ever since.

Mike: Yeah, that’s cool. So let’s give some of our listeners like some travel tips. The first one you have here is VPN. Let’s talk about VPNs and why you need those in China.

Cameron: So the internet doesn’t work very well everywhere. I feel like everyone knows that.

Mike: Yeah, that’s just the way to put it, yeah.

Cameron: Yeah, it really is a nightmare. I was outside of China for all of August. I was in the US and Canada, in Hong Kong, oh my God it’s wonderful. You turn on your phone and it actually works without jumping through a bunch of hoops. But even when you come to China there are — if you jump through a couple hoops and you know what to do you can kind of get around it.

So the tip I want to give everybody is there’s a company called Express VPN that if you just search for on Google, you can find it. This is the one that I use, but I mean there’s a bunch of other ones out there. The reason I mention this one is because they have a seven day free trial that doesn’t require a credit card.

Mike: Yeah, it’s the one that I used as well, so I mean I agree they are really good.

Cameron: So I mean and you can put on your — there’s an app. So if you have it on your mobile phone as well which means that if you’re going to any trade show or you’re just around China, you can put it on your desktop computer and on your laptop. And if you’re in China for less than seven days, it doesn’t even cost you anything.

Mike: Yeah, and one of the things we’ve been telling people, at least what I found, I don’t know if this is still true, I hope it is as we’re going to be there soon. But we found that this thing like high end American brand type hotels like don’t really have internet blockage as bad. Is that still kind of the case in September 2017ish?

Cameron: So it depends on the hotel, but I mean if you go to medium or low end hotels, they’ll just have the normal internet. But there are certain hotels that basically it — I guess it’s not a VPN, it’s a direct line which technical people can kind of talk about, but what it is basically is the internet it’s the Hong Kong internet. So you get the normal internet. You can ask hotels. I know for instance places like the Ritz-Carlton in Shenzhen have that. There’s a couple of others, so you can get an idea of the level of hotel I’m kind of talking about?

Mike: Yeah, the Westin, that’s connected to the Canton Fair complex has really good internet, and so does the Shangri-La that’s right there next to the Canton Fair. So yeah the same type of level, those types of level hotels…

Cameron: Yeah the Langham Hotel right across the Canton Fair does as well.

Mike: Yeah, there’s one in…

Cameron: Okay yeah that hotel is nice. Anybody even if you’re not staying there, you can go over there for coffee and get on the internet if you want to.

Mike: Yeah that’s definitely a great approach. We’ve done that both in the Langham, and the Westin lobby. I mean the only downside is in the Westin, it’ll be like $14 for a cup of coffee, like while you’re using their internet. It’s so expensive over there, it’s like obnoxious. Cool, yeah another thing you have on here like I actually can’t wait to talk about this. It’s just kind of infrastructure and city kind of like fan, but you were talking about just some of the transportation stuff that’s coming to China.

I mean the bridge they’re building from Hong Kong over to Macau is just so incredible. We went over to Macau this last trip, and we came in from Guangzhou like on the train, so we came up from like the northern end and we saw a part of it like the end part that’s going to be near the current harbor wherever the ferry comes in. And when we were going over by the airport you could see the other end over in Hong Kong side. But this is like a 30 mile bridge or something along those lines if I remember correctly that they’re building across the bay, so basically to get people back and forth from Macau. What’s the ETA on getting that thing open?

Cameron: Right so there is — basically the government plan is to make the entire Pearl River Delta into kind of one big mega city. So I forget what it is, there’s something like 75 million people or something like that, and that’s over the next 30 years. But specifically what this is it’s the bridge from Hong Kong which is the bridge starts at Lantau Island which is basically where the airport is in Hong Kong, and it goes across the mouth of the Pearl River over to Zhuhai in China, and then over to Macau.

And it’s actually opening up, as far as I know it’s opened up this fall. So I think it’s before the end of the year at least. So in the future, from the Hong Kong airport you’ll be able to get over to the other side of the Pearl River Delta which is like I said Zhuhai, Macau, Zhongshan. And then a couple of the other source sceneries like Jiangnan and a couple others are a lot easier, rather than taking a boat or driving up all around Guangzhou and then down.

Mike: Yeah, definitely that will be cool. And the thing that I’m like at least personally most excited about, this is what gets me excited these days, I guess it sucks being married for over ten years, and then to be 40. But just this high speed rail train that’s going to be from like downtown Hong Kong over to Guangzhou itself, I mean right now getting from Hong Kong and going to Guangzhou which I go back and forth between Global Sources and the Canton Fair then over like the mega show, and it’s like constantly back and forth, back and forth for the entire month I’m over there.

Having these new trains is going to be just so epic. Like it’ll cut the trip down I think in half using even the inner city train. But I don’t think this is going to open for a couple more years, is that right, is that the ETA on that?

Cameron: So what exists already is that the high speed rail, the tunnel is already done. The stations between downtown Shenzhen where I am right now, and Guangzhou south is already — that train is running. And it’s been running for a year and a half almost. What’s not done yet is the Hong Kong side. So Hong Kong is building the station, and putting the final touches on — at least according to the current schedule it’s 2018 Q4. So some time, basically October, November, December next year.

Mike: Very cool, awesome. Maybe they’ll have it ready for Canton Fair next year this time it’ll be really cool.

Cameron: Yeah it’s possible. It goes to Guangzhou South Station which is the high speed rail. It’s the maybe one of the biggest high speed rail hubs in China. So to get into the middle of Guangzhou is still maybe a 40 minutes subway ride. So it’s in the south of the city, but if you really are an infrastructure geek, there’s a ton of stuff to see here, because I mean they’re building it like crazy.

Mike: Yeah, there’s no doubt. I was actually at the Guangzhou’s south station. That’s how we went to Macau last year when we were there — earlier this year. And I was just like, wow. This infrastructure puts the United States to shame, like you’re over there and just like, man like what happened? Like we used to have the best infrastructure in the world at one time, and you go over to China and see this stuff, and you’re just like, my lord, like they’ve always put some money in there, and it just runs so efficiently and it’s comfortable and clean.

I mean it’s definitely pretty awesome, and definitely looking forward to that train from Hong Kong and Guangzhou. So I mean obviously it’s still kind of a pain in the butt to get from that station over to the Canton Fair complex area, but still overall like way better than what we’ve been doing up to now.

So we’re running short on time, so I just want to pick one of these topics here that I didn’t even know existed. I was like let’s talk about something I didn’t know exists. You have these are on arrival in Shenzhen, so I’m assuming that somehow if you had no plans on going in the Mainland China and showed up with no visa the last second, you can get a visa to go to China, is that kind of what this is?

Cameron: Yes so that’s what this is. Basically so if people are coming to the trade shows, to our trade shows or trade shows in general in Hong Kong, and didn’t originally plan to go to China. But after hearing all the excitement of this podcast, you decided to go, but didn’t have time to get a visa, what you can do is at the border across from Hong Kong to Shenzhen you can actually apply for a visa. The restrictions are — I forget how many days it is. It might be a week or something, and you have to stay within Shenzhen. So you’re not allowed to just to go to Guangzhou or anywhere like that.

Mike: Okay got you.

Cameron: But Shenzhen is pretty big. If you’ve been visiting factories, as long as they’re in Shenzhen proper which goes for quite a ways, you can get that visa on arrival.

Mike: Very cool, and does that happen – Is that local port that you can get that or is that at the other the other one?

Cameron: I’m pretty sure you can get it at pretty much all the ports. I know for a fact you can get it at Huanggang, which is the one that you take the car across.

Mike: Right, I’ve been across that. Okay interesting, that’s cool. I mean I’ve been to Shenzhen, it’s definitely a great city, it’s a cool city. We visited several factories there, so yeah I mean if you happen to be in Hong Kong the last second and want to just head over there, it’s definitely a cool place to visit. We got let’s say one more minute. Let’s hit your favorite place in Shenzhen and your favorite place in Hong Kong to visit.

Cameron: Okay so I mean when people come to visit me in Shenzhen, I take them to the Kingkey 100 is the name of the building. It’s 100 stories tall. There’s the St. Regis Hotel, and you can go up to the 100th floor, and on a clear blue sky day, it’s pretty much right on the Hong Kong border. So if you look south, you get basically Hong Kong undeveloped farmland, it’s the new territories. And then if you look east, west or north you get fully developed Shenzhen.

So you can go there, grab a coffee, or get breakfast at that hotel. If the weather is nice, that is an amazing place to go in Shenzhen. In Hong Kong what I like best is kind of hiking. So Hong Kong has really good hiking. You can go to Lantau Peak which is on the airport, kind of on the airport island. You can also — other things to do in Hong Kong, horse races are good, go to the outer islands so you can hike. You can take a ferry over to some of the islands and go for a hike.

People think of Hong Kong as a really cosmopolitan and all skyscraper city. But the reality is one of the good things about Hong Kong is if you take a subway or a bus for half an hour, you can be in the middle of nowhere.

Mike: Yeah, actually it’s funny you mention this. I’ve been getting into hiking a lot myself lately. I just did a huge hiking trip up to Alaska, and I had three extra days this time at the beginning of this trip because I used the airline miles, and so basically I have three empty days, and I’m going to do some hiking. I did some research on it, I was kind of curious. I typed in, hiking Hong Kong, and you’re right, like up especially like up in the northern, the new territories, there’s some like epic UNESCO rated like awesome hiking trails. I’m definitely going to take in some of those, and I agree with you. I have time extra time, I’ll do a full report when I get back, and if this is as good as the pictures I see on the internet, it should be pretty awesome.

Cameron: And you can get some pretty wild views of some reservoirs and kind of the ocean, the coast. I mean it’s pretty beautiful.

Mike: Yeah, cool man. Well I can’t thank you enough for being on. Is there any way people can get ahold of you if they have any questions about Global Sources or any of the stuff we talked about today?

Cameron: Well you can probably find me on Facebook, or maybe I can give you my e-mail and you can put it in the show notes. That’s fine as well, and then I mean obviously people end up at the shows. I’m kind of around; I’ll be at the summit maybe some of the time. I’ll be at most of the networking events. So we absolutely encourage people to go to GlobalSources.com/summit to look at what the summit is. GlobalSources.com/exhibitions to learn about our exhibitions and hopefully people can make that — if they’re coming to Hong Kong, people can make that part of their sourcing, other sourcing plans.

And then if you’re not coming to Hong Kong, or you’re not coming over to Asia at this time, just take a look at our GlobalSources.com online catalog. And if you run into any issues or questions, we’re pretty responsive. So if you want to learn more about — if you want to check a supplier’s bank account, or you want us to check a supplier’s business registration and kind of make sure that they’re on the up and up, if they are a supplier on our catalog, we’re absolutely going to do that for you.

Mike: Excellent. Cameron thanks for being on, and I will see you in a few weeks over in Hong Kong.

Cameron: Absolutely, really good to talk to you.

Mike: Thanks a lot.

Cameron: Thanks Mike.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the EcomCrew Podcast. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/EcomCrew for weekly live recordings of the EcomCrew Podcast every Monday. And please do us a favor and leave an honest review on iTunes; it will really help us out. Again, thanks for listening, and until next week, happy selling!

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