Interview with vice-president Mr. Peter Zapf of the Global Sources

12.05.2009 22:55

    As you know, it’s not so easy to make a business with China. You should know exactly what are you waiting from manufacturer or supplier, what’s kind of products you are planning to buy, how often and many-many other things. All these thoughts should be prepared before you meet with Chinese businessmen. But the main problem is in finding respected manufacturer who can offer you products at best quality. Yes, you may try to find it with your own team of workers through Internet, but risk to get in trouble with order is too high. We’d advise you to ask help from professional business company or meet the main Chinese trade fairs and exhibitions personally.       

Peter Zapf - Vice President of Community Development at Global Sources

Today we have an interview with Mr. Peter Zapf, who is a very effective person in Global Sources. Maybe you already know that his company is one of the best trading sources on Asian market. We have asked him to help us in getting more info on how to successful trade with China. To show some principles, common mistakes and advantages from doing business process in right or wrong way.

So, let’s begin…

We are glad to meet you again, Mr. Peter!
Glad to speak with you, too, boys!

Mr. Peter Zapf works as the Vice President of Community Development at Global Sources.  He’s been with the company for 10 years working on developing and marketing the web web site, as well as Global Sources other services. It’s a very interesting to us (as well as to our customers) to get some more info about Global Sources company.

Through it’s web site, trade magazines and China Sourcing Fair trade shows, Global Sources helps global importers, wholesalers and retailers around the world find Chinese and Asian manufacturers and suppliers. To help gather all this information about suppliers, we have offices in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines. 

What is the main role/meaning of Global Sources in Chinese import/exports operations. Does it the same as with global import/export operations?
Global Sources help importers, wholesalers and retailers find new suppliers, especially suppliers in China. As already was told, Global Sources has it’s online site, special trade magazines and Trade Shows, each of which help introduce buyers find suppliers.  We are not a trading company, and we do not get involved in purchase orders or in the actual import/export process.  We mainly help buyers and suppliers find each other.     

What about reasons of creation and rising up of Global Sources company? Some info on how Global Sources was growing up into big trading service.

Global Sources started business in early 1970s, helping international buyers find suppliers.  At that time, the best way to provide information about suppliers was via magazines.  So, the company started as a print publisher.  In the mid 1990’s, our CEO saw the Internet as an opportunity to make supplier information available more quickly via the internet, and launched  Then in the early 2000’s, we added trade shows as another channel for buyers to meet suppliers. 

Speaking about your company, what are unusual perfect things/tools that Global services have in comparison with others business search services? (Like Alibaba, and Korean).

For our online service, we spend more time verifying suppliers than any of our other online competitors.  We physically visit suppliers to confirm that they are real companies, with real products and real offices.  We also confirm that they are legally registered.  We’ve also ranked our suppliers, and the top ranking suppliers also have capability assessments completed by Bureau Veritas, a third party inspection company. 

Mr. Peter, tell us some words about Dubai fairs and exhibitions.

Our largest shows are in Hong Kong, but we’ve also recently brought our China Sourcing fairs to other locations. We’ve expanded our China Sourcing Fairs to Dubai and received a surprisingly strong response. The strong response we had at our first show resulted in a sizeable growth of our follow-on shows. Our next show in Dubai will be an Electronics show which will be held from June 14th to 16th.

What is about Mumbai fairs and exhibitions?

We held our first shows in Mumbai this past November and were very excited with the response with over 13,000 visitors. We’re following up with two specialized shows in Mumbai - one for Gifts and Premiums and the other for Underwear and Swimwear, both open from 28 April to 1 May ( ). We’re excited about the great response to these shows and look forward to further growing the shows. 

As we told recently to our visitors and clients, we have some business connection with your company. So, does you see some positive things that going through cooperation between Global Sources and JOu Ltd.?

I understand JOu Ltd. is helping companies plan their sourcing trips to China, with a focus on making trips during the trade show months. has been in contact with us about bringing visitors to the China Sourcing Fairs and we’re looking forward to receiving them at our upcoming shows. 

Preparation for trade shows, including China Sourcing Fairs and Canton trade fairs – what you’d tell about that great business event?

It is useful for buyers to do preparation work prior to attending shows. First, a buyer can contact suppliers via email prior to attending a trade show. This helps develop a target list of suppliers to visit during the show. Second, buyers need to be clearly prepared with their requirements. This really helps facilitate discussions with the suppliers.  Finally, buyers need to be prepared to do a lot of walking and talking.  There are quite a number of suppliers, each offering quite a number of products. To really see the full range of available products and suppliers takes quite a bit of time and effort. We’ve published additional articles on that address trade show preparation and other information about working with China suppliers. 

What about your plans or ideas about Russian-speaking countries (CIS), East Europe and business in Baltic area?

Even during the current economic slowdown, we’re continuing to see increased buyer activity from all countries.  In the current economic environment, it is even more critical for buyers to have good sources of supply, at competitive prices, with innovative products.  Global Sources provides access to high quality suppliers, and  buyers have been very active in contacting these suppliers. 

Please tell us about quality of Chinese products and what’s kind of improvements on that important subject achieved in Chinese industry? Maybe you have some info about how Chinese government is looking on that and what’s kind of action applied to give HQ products on export?

The quality issue is one that comes up frequently, but needs to be put into perspective.  Any transaction between a buyer and a supplier is a commercial transaction that comes with its own terms and conditions.  It is the buyer’s responsibility to clearly state the standards he needs products to meet, including quality standards.  It is the supplier’s responsibility to manufacture to these standards.  It is then the buyer’s responsibility to inspect the products to ensure they have met the standards he is looking for.  The buyer should not make their final payment until the inspection is satisfactorily completed.  To be fair to the supplier, the buyer must have clearly communicated his requirements, in writing, when he placed his purchase order.  China suppliers have the capability to manufacture to the requirements of any buyer, but buyers need to be very clear about their own requirements. 

Do you see the crisis influence on China and Asian market?

While the current economic slowdown is causing less efficient suppliers to go out of business, the strong suppliers are doing well.  Some are even increasing their business.  There is a general market shake-out, but mainly at the low end.  Also, because some overseas buyers have gone bankrupt, some suppliers have inventory from these buyers that they need to resell, providing opportunities for overseas buyers.  While the current economic situation is difficult, strong suppliers have the opportunity to gain business from their weaker competitors that have gone out of business.  And since some suppliers actually do have available production capacity, it’s a great time for buyers to be contacting and looking for new suppliers.

Thanks a lot for spending time and giving us an interview. From our side, we want wish you, Mr. Peter, also to your company, increasing of business activity, good results and improvement of the whole process in dealing with customers from all the globe…

Hope to speak with you again…and to see your business in the best condition!




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