Attend a Canadian Tradeshow
Canadian tradeshows are one of the best places to meet buyers and conduct market research. You can attend as a visitor or purchase a booth to exhibit your products. Canadian tradeshows are fewer and smaller than those in the U.S. and Europe but they are the main sourcing method for most retailers. Many Canadian buyers also visit top international tradeshows. If you cannot attend a tradeshow, visit the show’s website or contact the organizers for a list of exhibitors, many of whom will be importers. Consult TFO Canada’s online events calendar for a list of tradeshows.
Consult with Your Trade Representatives
Your Embassy, High Commission or Consulate: As your ears and eyes in Canada, trade representatives at your Embassy, High Commission or Consulate can help identify potential Canadian importers or direct you to independent consultants who can provide (for a fee) a list of potential Canadian buyers. You can also refer to this list of accredited Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Canadian Embassy: The Canadian Embassy in your country may have advance notification of Canadian buyer visits and can help arrange business meetings. Contact information for embassies abroad is available from the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.
Obtain a List of Potential Buyers
You can search for potential buyers through the Canadian Importer Database or for wholesalers/distributors through the Canadian Company Capabilities registry. Contact the industry association for your sector in Canada (see Annex 2) and look for a membership list on its website for possible leads. Lists of Canadian buyers who have already traded with your country may be available from your local Chamber of Commerce, a trade organization between your country and Canada or your foreign trade ministry or national promotion office. You can also purchase directories such as the Retail Chains Directory.
Enhance Your Online Presence
Website: A professional website that provides basic company information, product details and e-mail contacts is essential. In most cases, your website is your company’s first impression to buyers and has a substantial impact on whether they will want to do business with you. Ensure that your website is up-to-date, informative and searchable on major search engines.
Social Media: You should also consider establishing a presence on LinkedIn, a business networking site heavily used by Canadian business professionals. LinkedIn allows you to establish your company’s reputation by listing previous sales experience and by requesting recommendations from your business partners in Canada and abroad. These recommendations are posted directly to your profile page. Many smaller companies also use other social media, such as Facebook, to enhance their online presence.
Do your Due Diligence (Credit Checks)
It is important to do your due diligence to determine whether an importer is credit worthy. Your embassy or Exim Bank in your country can provide more information and services. You may also consult credit checking agencies such as the ones listed below for a fee:
- Red Book Credit Services (Fresh Produce)
- Blue Book Services (Fresh Produce)
- Dun & Bradstreet Canada
- Better Business Bureau