China Sourcing: The Delays You Can’t Avoid

So you placed your order with a Chinese factory and are now waiting patiently for production to finish. What could possibly go wrong? The answer is, unfortunately, a lot when it comes to China sourcing. Here are some of the more common delays you may experience – and how to avoid them.

Holiday headaches

China has seven national holidays each year: New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year, Qingming Festival, May Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Day and National Day. All of these involve multiple days off, meaning factories close for extended periods – often for weeks at a time. As you can imagine, factories become especially busy in the lead-up to these holidays. Always make sure to check the factory’s production schedule before placing your order and ask them about any upcoming holidays. If there is a national holiday within the ballpark of your order’s completion date, state explicitly that you expect it to be finished before that date.

VIP access

Just as fully booked restaurants miraculously find tables for their best customers, factories do their best to keep their VIP customers happy. Sometimes you may find that your order has been delayed for a seemingly unknown reason; it is entirely possible that it has been pushed back in order to accommodate a larger, more lucrative order or a repeat customer. When starting out, your order quantities are likely to be small. Giving yourself an extra week or two to accommodate this kind of delay will help reduce the impact of this scenario.

When less isn’t more

Once your order is complete, the factory will send it to the port so that it can be shipped to you. If your order is LCL (Less than Container Load), the factory may delay sending it to the port until they can combine it with another order to save on shipping costs. There is not much to be done to avoid this, other than ordering a full container load. As above, factor in an extra week to your production schedule to minimize any damage from a later delivery.

Forget to pay the bill?

China is the world’s largest consumer of electricity, and supply is not meeting demand. The result of this is that the state governments periodically shut down electricity to certain areas or cities, sometimes on specified days, sometimes unexpectedly. This is a particular hazard during late spring and early summer, when the use of air conditioners spikes. If such an event occurs during production of your order, expect lengthy delays across the entire China supply chain.

These are a few of the common delays you may encounter during the production of your order. While you may not be able to control them, being aware of and planning for them will go a long way in making sure you are not caught short.

How do you handle delays when sourcing from China? How do you avoid them altogether? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

By Laura O’Laughlin

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