Exporting to China - Getting into the market


How to find those first crucial sales opportunities


"How did you start exporting to China?" At Chamber International we work with hundreds of businesses who could give their own answers to this question – and they would all be different. There is no standard way to get into the Chinese market (read the case studies in this Key Markets section for just a few examples).

Whereas our Top Tips page explains attitudes and habits which will help you succeed in China, this page answers the crucial question – how can I find those first sales opportunities? 

Here are some strategies you can follow, starting with the easiest:

1. Trade Opportunities updates

Our Trade Opportunities pages feature the most up-to-date information from the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Europe Enterprise Network (EEN) and the China Britain Business Council (CBBC), and are supplemented with our own information too.  Keep checking for new opportunities in your sector.  

2. E-Commerce

China is the world’s largest online market for both consumer and commercial goods.  Discover how you can take advantage of this great opportunity here.

3. Shows, exhibitions and trade delegations

China hosts a bewildering number of "international" trade shows and exhibitions each year at national, provincial and even municipal levels.  Just by going along to a well-chosen event, being observant and asking questions, you can learn a lot about the market and your competition in China – especially domestic competition.  

In general it's best not to have a stand, at least the first time.  If you can't speak Chinese then make sure you have a good interpreter with you.  And don't just go for the first event you see advertised – talk with us or we'll help you find a suitable one.  

For a British exporter, a trip to a Chinese trade show can be good market research, and may even generate some leads, but it needs to be combined with other strategies in order to bring about real sales.  The same can be said of most 3rd-party-organised trade delegations.

At Chamber International we understand that a trip to China represents a significant investment of time and money, especially for smaller businesses.  So we offer specialist support and training to help you get the maximum value out of your business trip.  We'll even review and advise about your itinerary, and debrief the trip with you afterwards – contact us for more information.

4. Agents and Distributors

Using agents or distributors can reduce the time and costs involved in getting your product to market, and bring you valuable local knowledge too.  They may be the people who get your first sales into China.  There are risks involved however (for example relating to brand control and IP) and these risks need to be understood and managed well. 

Because of China's size and diversity, working out the best strategy for your product can be difficult.  Do you need sector specialists? Regional representation? Different distributors for different social classes?  What qualities, abilities and knowledge will they need to have, in order to bring good business in?  And how can we nurture our relationships with Chinese agents and distributors for the long term?  Contact us and we'll be happy to help you with all these matters.

For the latest business opportunities from China