During your travels in China or Asia, you too may have been tempted to buy handicrafts, works of art, even antiques to add them to your personal collection, offer them, or even resell them. Certainly, but we are talking about China/Asia, a developing country that still lacks standardization, regulation and transparency within many industries (especially the market of art, crafts and antiquity) or regarding its business practices, as explained in a previous article making theChina handicraft market analysis. Buying authentic handicrafts, works of art or antiques at the best prices can therefore be tedious, and that is why we will study how to avoid pitfalls and learn negotiation techniques so that you can make the best deals.
A little personal history to begin with ... my wife and I are lovers of Chinese culture and its crafts, we traveled together the 4 corners of China, and traveled extensively in Asia, strolling and chinning here and there, in search of rare nuggets for our personal collection or for our home. online shop of handicrafts. It is therefore during these trips that we were able to develop our experience with the purchase of artisanal products, having also sometimes (I will not hide it) suffered disappointments following " bad " purchases, products that we thought were authentic, but that actually came straight out of an assembly line or a large factory…
So that you avoid these mistakes, we have developed a small guide consisting of 12 tips, to maximize your chances of doing the best deals for your purchases of handicrafts ... this guide can also serve you in everyday life, whether for the purchase of electronic objects, textiles, various accessories, etc. and the best ... in short, this guide will serve you to negotiate with traders (generally speaking), in the Middle Kingdom and about everywhere in Asia !
1) Learn some mandarin words and phrases :The fact that you speak a little Chinese (or the local language of the country in which you are), will allow you to better communicate with the seller, and sometimes even attract his sympathy. Having made the effort to have learned a little of the local language will allow you to be taken more seriously than a completely foreign person and without knowledge of the language or culture. It can also help you understand what's going on around you, and find out what prices are practiced with other customers. So here are some good phrases to start with :
- How much does it cost ? - 这个多少钱 / zhè GE Duō shǎo qián ?
- It's too expensive ! - 太贵了！/ tài guì le！
- Can you give me a better price ? - 最低价多少? / zuì dī jià duō shǎo ?
- Don't give me the tourist fare ! - 我不是游客哦 ! / W B bú shi yóu kè O !
- A discount if I buy several items? - 买多点能便宜吗？/ mǎi duō piǎn néng biàn yí mǎ?
- Give me a friend's prize - 给个老乡价吧 / gěi gè lǎo xiāng jià bā
- Digit : 0 líng / 1 yī / 2 èr / 3 sān / 4 sì / 5 wǔ / 6 liù / 7 qī / 8 bā / 9 jiǔ / 10 shí / 100 bǎi / 1000 qiān
2) Know Where to negotiate :Negotiation is an integral part of Chinese culture, however, there are some places where bargaining is not done. Small independent shops, street vendors and street vendors will be happy to negotiate with you. However, large brands or supermarkets will not be inclined to bargain. Note that if you are in a group, you will be able to negotiate in some hotels or restaurants.
3) Find a great place for your shopping :Depending on what you are looking for, the ideal place may be a shopping center/complex, a small shop lost in the middle of nowhere, or a market. In most cases :
- Make sure that the merchant specializes in the type of products you are looking for. If you want to buy a handcrafted statue for example, it is better to select a place that specializes in the sale of statues, sculptures and art objects.this type of store suggests that the shop and its staff are specialists in art and Deco objects, and will therefore benefit from better prices and a better quality of service.
- Avoid buying in stores selling anything and everything. In general, this kind of "bazaars" are little or no specialized, offer higher prices, and lower quality service than a specialized shop. If you want to buy jade for example, turn to shops selling only jade, and not all kinds of jewelry.
4) observe, take your time, and explore : There is no point in running, you have to leave on time ! Rather than rushing to start negotiations on the item (s) for which you had a crush, be sure to have a look around to have all the cards in hand. This will allow you :
- to get an idea of the average price
- to learn more about the product(s) of interest to you (quality level, service, etc.)
- to be able to negotiate better, saying for example that the price of the neighboring store is Cheaper By X %
5) be discreet in the way you dress :Whether in the way you dress or the accessories you wear (jewelry, electronics, leather goods, etc.), be discreet !
- Avoid wearing clothes or accessories too bling bling ... this may suggest that you are rich, and therefore put you at a disadvantage in trading.
6) at the cash level :Here too, be discreet ! Try not to bundle all your money in your wallet or in the same pocket. This avoids attracting attention unnecessarily, which could put you at a disadvantage in trading.
7) go out with your " Poker Face » : Avoid showing your interest in an article for which you had a crush ! The seller will use this emotional factor, since he knows that you like this product, so he does not need to try to get you to buy it. He knows you want it, and therefore, will offer you a higher price right away.
- The seller may not understand everything you say, but remember that facial and body expressions are universal !
8) start low :When you have found an item that interests you, approach the seller starting with a price much lower than the price indicated or announced by the latter.
- Also remember that after proposing a price, you will no longer be able to go below.
9) Be direct, but polite and with humor :The art of trading is an integral part of Chinese and Asian culture, however, some sellers may sometimes take a recalcitrant attitude to trading, or will even tell you that the prices displayed are the best prices they can offer. In this case, the best attitude is to adopt a firm but courteous tone. With a smile, let them understand that you are serious and interested in buying their product, but only in exchange for a commercial gesture. Humor can also often be used to unlock these kinds of situations.
- Specify where you come from ! It may sound fun, but sometimes trading can be even more difficult if the trader thinks you are American, German, Swiss or English for example ! Some of these countries have a reputation for being countries populated by " rich "people.
10) carefully observe the product and point out the defects :It is quite normal and relevant to point out the defects of a product to the seller. If there are cracks or imperfections, this will allow you to pull the price down.
11) turn your back and go :If you feel that trading is not getting you anywhere, feel free to turn your back on the seller and leave, this is also a trading technique. Be sure to let the seller know the maximum price that you are willing to pay, and if he still does not agree, thank him politely and start from a decided step. It is most likely that he suddenly changes his mind and offers you a better price.
- This technique only works if he thinks you are really leaving, so be clear about this
- If in spite of everything you can not find an agreement on the price, it is useless to insist. Do not waste the seller's time by negotiating fiercely, only to finally buy nothing. This could make the seller irritable and aggressive.
- Note that if you are willing to buy the product at the last price that the seller offered you( his best offer), you can always return to him later.
12) payments :Once you agree on a price, try to pay the seller with the exact amount, or at least, avoid giving too big tickets. This can sometimes be a problem :
- A seller can claim that he no longer has currency exchange
- If you are not familiar with the currency, some sellers may try to deceive you about the currency exchange.
-Good to know: Personally, I have never had such problems and have always fallen on honest salespeople and shops. However, some of my friends have been less fortunate than me, so it is better to prevent than cure!
That is all for the advice! Feel free to share your personal experiences or fun anecdotes (or not) in the comments! In a next series of articles, we will see how to locate and identify the real handicrafts of the forgery. If you don't want to miss these articles, subscribe to our newsletter, or follow us on Social networks ! :)
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