Suggestion: Watch the 10 minutes video tutorial before reading this article
The Yiwu Wholesale Market is the largest in the world. Here, you’ll find thousands of Wholesaler offering all sorts of products at rock bottom prices.
In this article, I will explain the 13 things that every buyer must know before visiting the Yiwu Wholesale Markets, in Zhejiang province.
This is covered
- What is the Yiwu Wholesale Market?
- Why Yiwu makes sense for small buyers
- How to get to the Yiwu International Trade City
- Do I need a visa to visit Yiwu?
- Do I need to find an agent?
- Are Yiwu Wholesalers manufacturers or traders?
- How do I know that the products are not fake?
- How do I pay the wholesalers in Yiwu?
- How do I coordinate the shipment?
- Do I need a translator to talk to the Wholesalers?
In addition, we also added Part II: Yiwu Fair Guide
- When is the Yiwu Fair held?
- How do I get to the Yiwu Fair?
- What kind of products can I find at the Yiwu Fair?
- How do I get an invitation letter?
- How do I get a trade badge?
- What is the difference between the Yiwu Fair and the Yiwu Wholesale Market?
1. What is the Yiwu Wholesale Market?
There are in fact many wholesale markets in Yiwu city. Yiwu International Trade City is, however, the largest market – and often referred to when talking about the Yiwu Wholesale Market.
Unlike the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, the Yiwu International Trade City is permanent, and open the whole year, apart from national holidays.
The Yiwu Wholesale Market is gigantic, and mainly catering to buyers from India, Africa, and the Middle East.
Many e-commerce businesses also procure products from Yiwu wholesalers.
It’s famous for really low prices. Then again, you get what you pay for.
2. Why Yiwu makes sense for small buyers
Yiwu is famous for its traders and they are in general quite friendly towards small buyers. If you want to find ‘off shelf’ products ready to purchase in fairly small quantities from China, then this is the place.
While Yiwu is not a one-stop solution for every product (I’ll get to that in a bit), it can be perfect as a destination to purchase products such as watches, accessories, textiles, and bags.
A Yiwu based supplier can also act as a complement to your existing suppliers in China. Many small businesses, especially e-commerce companies, are in dire need of filler products to not make their stores empty. That’s one example of when Yiwu might be well worth a visit.
3. How to get to the Yiwu International Trade City
There are no international flights heading to Yiwu. The easiest way to get here is by flying to Shanghai and then take the high-speed train.
It takes roughly 2.5 hours and the train tickets can be purchased at the Hongqiao railway station.
While in Yiwu, there are a number of hotels in various price ranges. Go to Motel 168 if you’re on a low budget.
If you want something more upscale, then you might want to consider the Crowne Plaza or the Tian Heng International Hotel.
Getting around in Yiwu is quite easy. There are taxis, but don’t expect them to understand a single word of English or any other language than Chinese.
If you’ve hired a Yiwu agent, it’s customary that they pick you up and drive you around to visit various wholesalers.
4. Do I need a visa to visit Yiwu?
Yiwu is located in Mainland China, where most nationalities need a visa. The only two cities that don’t require visas are Hong Kong S.A.R (90 days) and Shenzhen (5 days).
You can either apply for a business visa or tourist visa at your local Chinese embassy or consulate.
It’s easy to obtain a visa but requires that you plan ahead.
5. Do I need to find an agent?
It’s one thing to find a supplier with interesting products. It’s a completely different thing to negotiate prices, settle the payment and ship the products back home.
This is when an Yiwu agent might make sense. An Yiwu agent acts as your purchasing manager and accompanies you while visiting suppliers.
After you’ve made a product selection and decided the quantity of your purchase, the Yiwu agent coordinates the procurement process and makes sure that all the cargo is collected in one single shipment.
This is especially important when buying from multiple suppliers since several small shipments can cost a lot more than one large shipment.
Apart from that, an Yiwu agent should also ensure that the wholesalers provide you with the right products and in the right quantity. This is not as obvious as it might seem to certain Chinese wholesalers.
Most Yiwu agents work on a commission rate. This means that they charge a percentage based on the order value. This usually ranges from 2 to 8%, depending on your order value. For natural reasons, the commission as a percentage is smaller the more you buy.
Now, keep in mind that the agent’s role is only to negotiate the price and administer the order terms. It’s up to you to verify that the products match your quality requirements, safety standards and labeling requirements in your market.
6. Are Yiwu Wholesalers manufacturers or traders?
Most Wholesalers are not manufacturers, but trading companies that cooperate with factories in Zhejiang and Jiangsu province.
That may not be an issue, but remember that they may not have the products in stock, but must first place an order with the manufacturer.
7. How do I make sure I get the right quality?
As always when importing products from China, you need to be very clear when you communicate your quality requirements.
As mentioned in this podcast by Global from Asia, Yiwu wholesalers can match any target price – but will adjust the quality accordingly.
As such, you should be cautious when price haggling, as the supplier may accept your target price, but use cheap and low-quality materials and components without telling you.
8. How do I know that the products are not fake?
For obvious reasons, you cannot buy brand name products from an Yiwu Wholesaler. International brands would never work with such vendors, and any brand name products you may find are not authentic.
That said, the Yiwu Wholesale Market is not a fake goods market.
While some shady transactions might take place in this huge complex, selling fakes is not encouraged or allowed.
But, intellectual property goes beyond brand names and logos.
What if the product is similar in design, compared to another, more well known, product?
Take the Converse looking shoes in the article image for example.
Is that allowed?
Well, it depends.
Brand copy each other all the time. Further, generic designs cannot be patented or protected. What can be protected is the following:
a. Artwork and patterns
b. New and unique designs
c. New and unique functionality or technology
An assessment must be made on a case to case basis, but make sure to avoid product designs that look very similar to those of established brands.
9. Can I trust that the suppliers know how to comply with safety standards and regulations in my country?
As said, most Yiwu Wholesalers export their products to buyers in India, Africa, and the Middle East.
Hence, they have little to no incentive to develop a deep understanding of product regulations and safety standards in the developed markets, such as the US, EU or Australia.
The truth is that most suppliers are not even aware of overseas product regulations, and many products cannot even pass lab testing.
If you are based in Europe, North America or Australia, you should not buy products in the following categories from the Yiwu markets:
- Toys & Children’s Products
- Medical Devices
Keep in mind that the wholesalers will not warn you about possible regulatory issues. You will only find out once it’s too late.
Importing non-compliant products is illegal, and you will be held liable if somebody is injured by the product, or if their property is damaged.
Further, the customs in your country can seize and destroy the shipment, if it’s deemed to violate local product safety standards or labeling requirements.
You have been warned.
10. How do I pay the wholesalers in Yiwu?
If you buy directly from the Wholesaler, you can wire the money to their bank account. You should at all times refuse to pay in cash, or to private bank accounts.
Only pay to business bank accounts whose beneficiary name is matching that of the wholesalers.
It’s critical that the payment can be traced to the correct seller.
If you on the other hand work with a Buying Agent, you will pay them, rather than each individual Wholesaler.
The same rules apply here. Only pay directly to their company account.
Keep in mind that you should not pay the supplier in full until you have inspected the finished products.
Many Yiwu wholesalers aren’t even proper wholesalers. Instead, they take orders from foreign buyers back to their factories and deliver them a month or two later.
At this point, you might already be out of the country.
You must always, without exception, get your products quality inspected before paying your supplier in full.
11. What can I do if I get into a dispute with the wholesaler?
That depends on whether you hold the money or not.
If you have already paid the wholesaler in full, and you find quality issues, you will have a very hard time getting your money back – or even replacement products.
However, if you find quality issues before you have made the final payment
12. How do I coordinate the shipment?
You can either use a commission agent to manage the shipment for you or work directly with a freight forwarder.
It’s up to you to confirm the following:
b. Forwarder warehouse address
c. Forwarder contact details
d. Customs value
13. Can I ship goods from multiple wholesalers in one container?
Indeed. You can either ask your Yiwu agent to coordinate this for you or make sure that you buy according to FOB (Free on Board) terms from each supplier.
You should then instruct each one to order transportation to your freight forwarders local office in Shanghai.
From here, they can pack all the goods in one container, and delivery it according to DAP (Delivered at Place) or DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) terms.
14. Do I need a translator to talk to the Wholesalers?
Yes, most suppliers at the Yiwu Wholesale Market don’t command more than very basic English. You will save plenty of time if you have a translator by your side when asking about prices, quality options, and order terms.
There are many translation and interpretation companies located in Yiwu, so you should not have a hard time finding one.
Part II: Yiwu Fair Guide
The Yiwu Fair is one of the largest trade shows in eastern China.
Located just two hours by train from Shanghai, the Yiwu Fair has suppliers in virtually all product categories, including electronics, textiles, children’s products and more.
In this article, you will learn how to get to the venue, how to obtain an invitation letter and get free admission by getting your trade badge in time.
In addition, I will also explain why you should consider hiring an interpreter, before arriving in Yiwu.
When is the Yiwu Fair held?
The Yiwu Fair, or China Yiwu International Commodities Fair as it’s officially called, is held yearly in Yiwu City, Zhejiang province.
Since 1995, the Yiwu fair has been held twice per year, in May and October.
How do I get to the Yiwu Fair?
The Yiwu Fair is held in the Yiwu International Expo Center (义乌国际博览中心). There are few, if any, international flights to Yiwu.
Instead, you can either fly to Shanghai or Hangzhou and take the high-speed train to Yiwu.
It will take you 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on where you get on the train.
Despite being a fairly small city (at least by Chinese standards), there are plenty of international hotels in the city.
You can take a taxi directly from the train station, but keep in mind that local taxi drivers don’t understand English. Make sure that you print out your hotel address before you arrive.
Show your driver the following address:
English: International Expo Center, No.59 Zongze Road, Yiwu, Zhejiang, China (Postcode: 322000)
What kind of products can I find at the Yiwu Fair?
The Yiwu Fair caters to buyers in virtually any industry. While many trade fairs only cover specific product categories, the Yiwu fair is relevant to buyers in any of the following industries:
- Daily Necessities
- Ornament and Accessories
- Textiles, Shoes & Hats
- Office Goods
- Sports & Outdoor Products
- Pet Products
- Car & MC Accessories
Do I need a visa to attend the Yiwu Fair?
Yes. Most foreign visitors to Mainland China must obtain a visa prior arrival.
The easiest way to obtain a visa for the Yiwu Fair is by requesting an invitation letter directly from the official website.
The invitation letter is provided free of charge, and can then be used to apply for a business visa at your local Chinese consulate or embassy.
The specific requirements vary depending on your nationality and country of residence. However, you may need to prepare the following:
- Photos of the applicant
- Flight ticket booking (may not be required with an invitation letter)
- Hotel booking (may not be required with an invitation letter)
- Travel plan
Luckily, it’s not as complicated as it may sound.
It’s generally very easy to obtain a business visa as long as you apply for the invitation letter a few weeks in advance.
Keep in mind that it will take at least 3 to 4 working days to process the visa, so don’t delay your application.
Notice that the visa itself is only required for entering Mainland China. If you are already in China, you don’t need to obtain a new visa for the sake of visiting the Yiwu Fair.
Further, you can choose to obtain a business visa using any other channel, such as an invitation letter from your supplier, rather than requesting one from the fair organizers.
That said, many first time buyers who are interested in attending the Yiwu Fair don’t have an existing supplier network, and should, therefore, contact the fair organizers to secure an invitation letter, and then apply for a visa in their home country.
How do I get an invitation letter?
You can apply for an invitation letter directly via the official China Yiwu International Commodities Fair website.
Simply download the application form and fill in the following details:
- Company name
- City, Address
- Phone, E-mail
- Name/s, Position/s, Date of Birth, Passport Number
Once filled in, you send the file by email. The invitation letter will then be sent by post. Notice that this process can take a few weeks.
How do I get a Trade Badge?
A Trade Badge is required to enter the Yiwu Fair. You can either apply online, to get a free trade badge. This badge is then collected on site, once you arrive.
You can also show up unannounced, but then you must bring your passport. You may also need to pay a small fee.
I recommend that you take the time to pre-register.
Do I need a translator to visit the Yiwu Fair?
A fairly large percentage of the sales staff attending the Yiwu Fair can communicate in English. However, expect their English proficiency to be limited, and some suppliers don’t have English speaking staff at all.
You can hire translators via the fair organizers, or find a local interpreter on your own.
There are plenty of companies offering translation and interpretation services in Yiwu, given that it’s one of the most active trade centers in China.
What is the difference between the Yiwu Fair and the Yiwu Wholesale Market?
There are in fact many wholesale markets in Yiwu, including the Yiwu International Trade City which is an all year round market.
The Yiwu fair, on the other hand, is only held on certain dates and attracts both manufacturers and trading companies from Zhejiang and other provinces.
Hence, the Yiwu fair is to be compared to the Canton Fair or Global Sources China Sourcing Fair, rather than the Yiwu Wholesale Market.