This time of year, post Christmas holiday and prior to the Chinese New Year holiday, morphs into a giant blob. For some importers, it can be an inefficient and frustrating time. Here are some reminders on timing during this time period and what to look out for.  This applies to both before and after the Chinese Holiday.

Western buyers return from their Christmas holiday

Buyers come back after the Christmas and Jan 1st New Year and they’re fired up. They’re ready to get some quotes going. Fingers are crossed, hoping they can get 1 more project in before the factory closes.

They soon find that not only is it next-to-impossible to get any project really going. Just getting a quote is like pulling teeth.

Experienced importers tend to find themselves not remembering how long the “lull” lasts.

 “Timing” before the Chinese New Year

Keep in mind that timing is more theoretical than something that’s a solid concept actually connected to a calendar.

  • Your sales contact may not actually know when an order can get on the production line. They just know it’s not going to be until after the holiday.
  • Keep in mind that even prior to Christmas, factories already confirm that nothing’s able to ship prior to their anticipated break. Yes, yes, I know you’re reading this waaay after Christmas and I should’ve written this post earlier. Bookmark this to read it next early November.
  • And when it comes to samples started in January, don’t be surprised if the piece arrives wrong or the factory isn’t able to complete prior to the holiday. Around the holiday, the factory will say that they didn’t have their normal sampling line set up because the workers went home. Or they will promise to do a better version, 20 to 25 days from now…
  • When it comes to timing in RFQ’s before the Lunar New Year…

  • Again, with a focus on “timing”, realize the quote’s lead time is fluid. I mean fluid in a bad way. If the quote says they can ship March 15th, that may actually be April 10th.
  • Let your buyers, brand or boss know this! That quotes from Dec to Jan need a new timing confirmation as soon as the holiday is over.

    Here’s an example. Let’s say you plan to make a deposit on an order right after the New Year. You have the supplier’s invoice and sampling is already signed-off. The invoice states that mass production takes 25 days.

    Ok but that is 25 days starting on what day?

    And how do you know they’ll be able to indeed start that day?

    And if they do start, are you sure there’s not more customers jockeying their order for position? And yours doesn’t get the ol’ bump?

    Don’t build solid hopes on a timing quoted during this “blob period”. Be vigilant to follow-up on timing, as soon as the holiday is winding down.

    Be a squeaky wheel if necessary so that suppliers will prioritize you over others. It doesn’t hurt to try anyway.

    Don’t wait to get a “bad news” email when it’s too late. Endeavor to get in front of potential problems.

    Timing also comes into play with logistics

    For the logistics, this is where crowded orders, pre-holiday rush and bottle-neck ports all meet. Last year, we almost had a stranded order, but were able to rebook it out of an obscure port. All because of the New Year, the main ports were no longer accepting shipments.

    During this time period, be vigilant on logistics. If something’s supposed to depart factory on Jan 18th and catch the next sailing date on Jan 22nd, missing a closing date can lead to more than 2 weeks delay.

    Check it and check it again. Be sure the supplier is in close communication with the freight forwarder on their side.

    You do likewise on yours.

    Work to assure you or your vendor book the spacing in advance.

    After the New Year…

    Once the holiday officially ends, don’t expect the factory and your sales contact to come back swifter than a roe deer.

  • Your sales contact may return earlier than the factory workers.
  • The factory may be open 1 week to 10 days before actual production or fruitful work commences. This doesn’t mean they’ll immediately start on your case.
  • Remember to reconfirm all preconfirmed timing discussion immediately when your sales contact returns to office.
  • Lastly, keep in mind that post New Year, many pre-quoted specs, prices and conditions may change. I’ll address this in the following post.