Just a few days after Valentine’s Day in the US comes a time that many international shippers dread: the Chinese New Year. While every country has their times of shut down, the Chinese New Year is a something of a super-holiday among holidays (think Christmas, Thanksgiving, and your birthday all combined into one three-week celebration.).
Since China is one of the top three exporters to the US, it’s important that each business that receives or sends merchandise from China gets their prep work in early. China shuts down every production facility in mainland China and Hong Kong, and if you don’t have all your shipping ducks in a row, it can be an absolute disaster for your company.
However, there is something you can do to avoid out-of-stocks and delays with merchandise when shipping from China to the US. Since Chinese shipping companies have a predictable schedule, you can plan ahead and minimize disruption. How? Read on.
When is the Chinese New Year?
In 2018, the Chinese New Year starts on February 16th. However, it doesn’t every year, so it’s important you keep track to make sure you don’t miss the deadline to get your final imports for a few weeks. In addition, many suppliers start shutting down operations in China days or even weeks before the New Year celebrations start. Were you expecting 1,500 computers to ship on the 12th? Tough, your supplier is already gone.
The best way to avoid certain disaster is to simply talk to your suppliers. Many of them speak English, have someone who speaks English, or can use simple translation services to write emails back and forth. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to find out.
Order Now or Don’t Order
Nothing is more frustrating than placing an order, paying for it, and then not getting it in time to make your customers happy. In fact, it can cost you time, money, and business. Schedule way ahead of time. Make sure you allow for a significant buffer to ensure the best delivery of service to your clients. Anticipate your needs by looking at previous years of sales volume during the Chinese New Year and order while you can.
Anticipate Increased Demand
You aren’t the only business that depends on China to fuel their businesses. Because everyone that depends on products from China is going to be making sure they have what they need, there are going to be an increased number of logistics issues. Customs, for example, can only process so much a day, and there might be extra delays because of personnel taking off for the holiday. The entire process can be confusing, difficult to navigate, and is completely uncontrollable. If you’re importing something new, or importing more than you usually import, it might be easier to talk to a logistics company to make sure your import won’t be delayed so much that it won’t make it through clearance before the holiday begins.
Expect Some Delays After the Holidays
Just like we use summer to pack up our kids and move to different states, China uses the holiday to scout for new jobs and opportunities. This means that when factories do come back online, sometimes they are short-staffed or staffed with new workers that are still learning the ropes. While manufacturers have become experts at training staff quickly and resuming normal operations, sometimes it does take a few weeks to reach normal levels of production and fulfillment.
Keep in mind that your shipping companies, like DHL and FedEx, have no control over the speed of your shipments. DHL, for example, is only closed for a week a year in celebration, so all of your communication needs to happen with your suppliers.
With proper planning, a little prediction, and some expert decision-making, you’ll be able to ride out the Chinese New Year smoothly.
Do you have vendors you use in China? How do you tackle a difficult time like the Chinese New Year?
Originally published at : https://medium.com/optimalships-shipping-advice-more/is-your-business-ready-for-the-chinese-new-year-3d0776001f2e