Expert tips: how to navigate Chinese New Year shipping delays
January 31, 2024
The Chinese New Year, a vibrant celebration marking the start of the lunar calendar, brings not just festivities but also disruptions to international shipping and logistics. For eCommerce sellers, this period can translate into delayed deliveries, frustrated customers, and the potential for lost revenue. In this article, I will show you the seller’s guide to navigating Chinese New Year shipping delays.
Chinese New Year, or the Year of the Dragon (the wood dragon), takes place in 2024 from February 10 to February 15, with the Lantern Festival as the festivities’ conclusion.
By understanding the challenges and implementing proactive strategies, you can create success this coming Lunar New Year and avoid getting sidetracked in your business journey.
Let me show you the right steps to take and the disturbances the sellers may encounter this 2024 Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year Shipping Delays:
The holiday implies fewer operations, a personnel shortage, and delayed shipping for importers and exporters. However, you may avoid the Christmas rush and supply chain hiccups.
Here, some of the impacts of the Lunar New Year on shipping vary based on several factors:
Holiday schedule: Factories and logistics providers typically shut down for at least one week, often longer, around the holiday period.
Increased demand: Before the holiday, there is a surge in shipping as businesses try to stock up before the closures. This can lead to bottlenecks and price hikes.
Reduced workforce: During the holiday, a significant portion of the workforce takes leave, potentially leading to slower operations and delays.
Port congestion: Major ports experience increased congestion as shipments rush to meet pre-holiday deadlines, further prolonging processing times.
These disruptions translate into longer lead times, unpredictable shipment delays, and potentially inflated shipping costs. Here are a few strategies to overcome these difficulties.
Effective Tips to Navigate Chinese New Year Shipping Delays
Plan ahead: Mark the holiday dates on your calendar and start planning your shipping well in advance. This will allow you to:
Adjust inventory: Increase inventory levels of critical products to buffer against potential delays.
Communicate with suppliers: Discuss holiday schedules and adjust production or shipping timelines accordingly.
Inform customers: Communicate potential delays on your website and product listings. Consider offering extended shipping times or alternative shipping options during this period.
Diversify your options: Don’t rely solely on traditional sea cargo. Explore alternative shipping methods like air freight or express couriers for urgent shipments. Consider using smaller ports with less congestion.
Build strong relationships: Develop strong relationships with reliable suppliers and logistics providers who can offer better communication and transparency during peak seasons.
Automate processes: Use automation tools to streamline your shipping and logistics operations, reducing dependence on manual processes that might be affected by holiday closures.
Stay informed: Monitor industry news and updates on port congestion, holiday schedules, and potential disruptions to stay ahead of the curve.
Be flexible: Be prepared to adapt your plans as needed. Unexpected delays or logistical challenges can occur, so a contingency plan can help you respond effectively.
Focus on customer service: While delays may be inevitable, prioritizing excellent customer service can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one.
Mitigating the Impact
Forewarned is forearmed. Here are some strategies to minimize the impact of Chinese New Year on your shipping and logistics:
1. Stock up for the Calm Before the Storm
Analyze your sales data and predict inventory needs well in advance. Stock up on essential items before the holiday shutdown to avoid stockouts during the peak season.
Negotiate with suppliers to pre-order crucial items before they close their doors. This secures inventory and avoids post-holiday backlogs.
2. Build Bridges with Your Logistics Partners
Maintain close communication with your freight forwarder, port agents, and other logistics partners. Stay informed about holiday schedules, potential disruptions, and alternate shipping options.
Discuss extended storage options with your shipping partner to store containers before or after the holiday, alleviating port congestion.
3. Explore multimodal solutions
Don’t rely solely on ocean freight. Consider alternative modes like air cargo or rail transport, especially for time-sensitive shipments.
Avoid the mega-ports grappling with heavy congestion. Investigate smaller, less crowded ports as potential alternatives for smoother transit.
4. Optimize your fulfillment processes
Batch orders during the lead-up to Chinese New Year to minimize individual shipments and potential delays.
Be transparent with your customers. Update estimated delivery times on your website and proactively inform them about potential delays due to the holidays.
5. Leverage Technology
Utilize advanced shipment tracking tools to monitor your cargo’s progress throughout the journey, enabling proactive responses to any unforeseen hiccups.
Implement robust inventory management software to optimize stock levels and ensure efficient order fulfillment, even during periods of limited production.
Bonus Tip: Consider partnering with a reliable fulfillment provider experienced in navigating the complexities of Chinese New Year shipping. Their expertise and established relationships with logistics partners can smooth the journey and minimize disruptions.
For instance, Angie Tran partnered with Forceget to avoid a potential port delay during the Chinese New Year. By utilizing Forceget’s suggested alternate route, they saved 5% in shipping costs and delivered their goods on time.
With these strategies and maintaining a proactive approach, you can navigate the Lunar New Year shipping maze with minimal disruption and ensure smooth deliveries for your customers. Remember, planning, diversifying your options, and fostering strong relationships are key to navigating this seasonal challenge and keeping your business on track.
Burak is the co-founder and CEO of Forceget Supply Chain Logistics. After seven years in China, he distributed Volvo and Mercedes spare parts and opened an Amazon business. In 2020, he launched ForcegetSupply Chain Logistics in Miami using this knowledge.