China’s largest trade fair turns digital, thanks to Israel

Hod Hasharon's ExpoBee device allows buyers to collect data on products they’re interested in, gives suppliers real-time stats on performance.

The Canton Fair Complex 311 (photo credit: Canton Fair)
The Canton Fair Complex 311
(photo credit: Canton Fair)
When the bi-annual Canton Import and Export Fair begins on April 15 in Guangzhou, it will mark the first time that China’s largest trade exhibition goes digital, thanks to new technology developed by Israeli company ExpoBee.
ExpoBee’s system will work in two separate stages. In the first stage, visitors will receive a digital badge which they can use to scan any product that interests them. Later they will be able to access information about all the products and keep in touch with suppliers through an online portal.
Motti Kleinmann, Vice President of Product Management for ExpoBee, told The Jerusalem Post that his company came up with the concept when it realized that there was a need to make international exhibitions more efficient for buyers, suppliers and for the organizers themselves.
“Before the show we sign up all the exhibitors, and we give them a special tag which they can attach to their product,” Kleinmann explained.
“We [also] have a special web portal that we created, and there the exhibitors must upload in advance all of their products.”
“So now you come to the show, all the products are there, all of them are tagged, and when the buyer comes we give each of them their badges, which they can go around with and scan any product they like. Once they scan it, it automatically goes into to a report that is generated for them.
“[The report] shows them all the products that they have scanned, with detailed information, with photo descriptions and so on. It also shows them information about the supplier, who the supplier is, [and] with one click they can get access to the company profile, some company facts and so on.”
Kleinmann said that suppliers would benefit just as much from the technology as the buyers, as it gives them leads on who is interested in their products. In addition, he said that the technology has a business intelligence component, which allows the supplier to see how they performed compared to their rivals, and to track buyer trends at the exhibition.
As for the organizers of the now 54-year-old fair, Kleinmann said that they would receive information previously unavailable to them through “a real-time dashboard with analysis that shows them exactly what’s going on on the floor and how many buyers are going to which booth and where.”
In the second stage, which comes after the visitors return to the more than 100 countries from which they came, buyers and suppliers will be able to continue sourcing and contacting each other via the portal, which Kleinmann called “the foundation of the business.”
“It starts with one click of a badge but it’s actually quite a comprehensive system,” he said.
The Canton Fair will be the first major event to use the new technology, although it has already been tried at several smaller fairs around China.
Kleinmann said that ExpoBee decided to target China first because of its prominence in the exhibitions industry, although he added that the company would look to branch out to Europe in the near future.
In fact, the focus on China has been so strong that company CEO Ady Meretz has based ExpoBee’s headquarters in Shanghai, while all the technology was developed at the company’s research and development facility in Hod HaSharon, just north of Tel Aviv.
“We combine the strength of Israeli creativity and R&D excellence together with all of the muscles and dedication of the Chinese people, the operations that they run very smoothly,” Kleinmann said.
The coming session of the China Import and Export fair will run in three separate phases over three weeks, the first beginning on April 15. The ExpoBee technology will be accessible to visitors through a special portal designed specifically for the fair, conveniently named “CantonBee.”