Tips on Visiting Shenzhen
For me, Shenzhen is the best base for getting your Amazon business established.
It is well known as the powerhouse for Chinese manufacturing and is frequently said to be of much better quality than Guangzhou.
That is not to say that there is anything wrong with other manufacturing centers in China, but if you have to start somewhere then Shenzhen is my #1 pick.
It’s proximity to Hong Kong is a major advantage if you intend visiting. It doubles if not triples the number of flights you can choose from as it is just so easy to then go across one of the land borders into China.
I sometimes get a visa on arrival (UK Passport) if less than 5 days…longer and you need to get a “proper” visa. On this trip I got my visa on arrival and then had to extend a day and never even thought about it! Took me nearly 2 hours to get out plus a fine so nearly missed my flight out on Hong Kong!
I always come in as a tourist.
Have been to China many times and just quote different places in western China that I want to visit. Yes, you can get a formal business letter from one of the suppliers that you are going to meet and go the business route. However, just like any country border control, they just want to be sure you are going to leave on time.
So, having decided on Shenzhen, how long do you need and where should you stay?
Some people squeeze in three (and more!) supplier visits in a day. I much prefer two and suggest you cover off a lot of the due diligence before you decide to visit. There is absolutely no point dragging yourself all the way to a supplier if on arrival it is very clear to you they are not a good match. Here is my checklist before I consider a visit:
Alibaba certified. I just don’t do business with any Chinese supplier unless they have Trade Assurance, are a Gold Supplier and have had an Onsite Inspection
Online research. I always scour the web for good, bad or indifferent commentary
Skype calls. I have spoken with their sales person and at least one other person in the business – usually their supervisor
I have a clearly stated reason to visit and set the right expectation with the supplier
If the visit goes well, I am prepared to order!
This last point is key. If you have the time and budget to just go to China and “check it out” then go there and look at the sites. There is plenty to see and do.
That said, don’t kid yourself or waste any supplier’s time. They are there to do business just like you do in your home town/city.
It can be exhausting traveling in China. The distances are great in Shenzhen alone, traffic can be troublesome and things in general just take a lot more time.
I spent 5 years in Bangkok so understand the reality of traffic – but with Shenzhen you then have to add in massive distances!
Add to this I really do not want any supplier to know where else I am going and the unknown. A morning visit can run over lunch if all has gone well – then you are headed to another supplier at 2pm which means a traffic battle at the end of the day. If the meeting has gone well and runs across dinner then you are back at your hotel around 9pm.
It always amazes me the number of people who visit without their days entirely scripted and nailed down. Don’t get me wrong, you can get three or even four visits completed in a day but just make sure you have worked on the basics:
North, south, east, west. Group your supplier visits so they are in proximity
Get on the road early. Yes, it will be slow but you need to be at your first stop by 9am
Consider training and taxi from station nearest to them.
Two days on, one day off (or one supplier visit on day 3)
Again, as noted above….you really need to go and be prepared to order if all is OK
I always mix business with pleasure. I like to see some sites and experience local culture wherever I go.
I always use LuoHu as my base in Shenzhen. I always watch my budget carefully – in China $50 a night gets me a reasonable room. If you have a higher budget, then you will find plenty of choice.
Most times I stay at ZTL Hotel.
It is clean and tidy. Some english on reception which is very helpful and if Tom is on then you will have an even easier check in. He is fluent in english and has helped me returning samples to a supplier and sorting a few bits and pieces. Tell him Greg sent you and tip him well!
It is right next to the 1234Square shopping mall. Even better, Dongman Walking street is 100m away so I always work my schedule to stay over a weekend so I can have a wander, buy some bits and pieces at amazingly cheap rates (if you are not a brand junkie).
The Laojie metro is right on your doorstep, under the shopping mall.
As mentioned, I most often train to get close to suppliers and then taxi from the closest station. Also, if you want to get around in Shenzhen and do some sites then the metro covers a vast area.
On this….do you realize just how big Shenzhen is?
The metropolitan population is 18 million. The city actually merges into it’s neighbors – one of my suppliers is in Dongguan which is actually a neighboring city to the north. I get there by train and taxi in under an hour.
If you are indeed headed to China – enjoy…!!!
As always, ask us anything. If we don’t know we’ll know someone who does! Back to Blog
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