As we continue to trudge through the global impact of COVID-19, many businesses continually search for some sort of return to normalcy.
However, with foreign countries like China still pushing for a “zero COVID” policy, the global economy — or more specifically, the global supply chain — isn’t expected to return to its pre-COVID state until 2023, or even late 2024.
In the meantime, companies must learn how to prepare for unpredictable COVID flareups, and how to navigate the fast-changing developments of China’s shipping ports.
In early 2021, China got off to a rocky start with shipping container pileups, material shortages, and multiple port closures. Additionally, China’s Yantian Port struggled to contain COVID-19 case outbreaks, causing an unprecedented amount of disruption for the shipping and logistics industry.
On the flip side, this forced hundreds of thousands of businesses to reevaluate their supply chain, spot vulnerabilities, and learn how to create long-term solutions best suited to their company and their customers.
Now, with the 2022 Chinese New Year nearly upon us, business organizations are preparing to regroup, re-strategize, and re-staff as the world gear up for another year amidst the pandemic.
How Chinese New Year Might Affect Your Business
As an e-Commerce or retail business, it’s likely that most, if not all, of your products come from China. Therefore, it’s important to know how traditional Chinese holidays — like Chinese New Year — will affect the inner workings of your company.
In Chinese culture, the Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) signifies new beginnings. As the most important celebration observed in China, the majority of businesses close down to celebrate this special holiday.
Chinese New Year is celebrated in mainland China, Hong Kong, and various countries in Asia, including Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
It’s crucial to note that Chinese New Year isn’t just a single day of celebration; festivities typically last seven days or more. In 2022, the Chinese New Year celebration commences on January 31st and ends on February 15th.
Last year, China imposed various restrictions ahead of the Chinese New Year. However, this year, the Chinese government has not set any strict travel restrictions regarding the 2022 Chinese New Year. Of course, that could very well change with the highly transmissible Omicron variant on the loose, so it’s best to keep an eye out for any updates on disease control measures during this holiday.
Order Products Ahead of Time
First, order as many products as ahead of the Chinese New Year. Being a week-long celebration, there’s no telling how long it might take to get your products.
Most businesses take advantage of the first month of January to stock up on all the necessary goods. The key is to not become complacent. If you push your order too far to the Chinese New Year, it’s likely you’ll encounter delays in the delivery of your product(s).
While Chinese New Year can last anywhere from seven to sixteen days, many businesses — both locally and internationally — shut down a week or so leading up to the holiday, thus putting a halt to Chinese production.
So whether you’re sine-commerce or retail, you can expect most businesses in the shipping industry to close their doors for at least two weeks. This would typically include all operations from management to production overseers, to transportation planners.
Why You Should Stock Up On Inventory
Since so many businesses decide to stock up on inventory ahead of the Chinese New Year, it’s common to expect shipping delays from Asian countries.
It’s also typical for many Chinese workers to leave work early to give themselves time to secure travel plans for the upcoming holiday.
So, to avoid to rush, it’s wise to set a fixed strategy for purchasing and stocking up on your products. Using strong metrics to ensure you’re obtaining sufficient supply, monitor the general timeline of the Chinese New Year holiday.
Beginning in mid-January, most Chinese suppliers start the initial phase of slowing down production. From there, employees leave the factory and start making holiday plans. Then, by early March, most employees have returned to work; by mid-March, production has returned to normal.
Of course, with the pandemic, each Chinese New Year becomes less predictable. In case the shipping delays are worse the anticipated, you may want to consider building up a surplus of stock — primarily your most popular products.
Consider Finding Supplier Alternatives
Remember that most of your foreign suppliers have navigated Chinese New Year before, so it’s wise to discuss potential plans and problems with them leading up to the holiday.
Some questions to ask: When are they closing operations?; When are they resuming operations?; Can they still ship out products during the Chinese New Year?
However, it’s very possible that you may need to find alternative suppliers, especially if you’re a business with a diverse supply chain network.
If that is the case, look for an international supplier that has factories that remain open during the Chinese New Year.
Prepare Your Business for Chinese New Year
As stated earlier, the Chinese New Year is the most important celebration for China. Not only do factory employees take at least seven days to observe the holiday, but operations could shut down weeks beforehand, and remain slow afterward.
That’s why it’s important to formulate a plan for your business ahead of time.
Whether it’s ordering products early, stocking up on popular items, or coordinating with your suppliers, make sure you have enough time to prepare yourself, your customers, and your employees.