It’s the beginning of the Chinese New Year…and 2017 is to be recognized as the Year of the Rooster.

There’s a lot we could learn from this animal.

Roosters are hardworking, resourceful, courageous, and talented – just like a good online seller.

And did you know that roosters spend a considerable amount of their time perched up high and on guard ready to attack other roosters that may dare to enter their territory?

All they have to do is keep lookout and crow!

And there’s a lot we need to know about China too. This Chinese New Year can impact you as a seller and you need to know why.

After all when it comes to sourcing products, importing goods from China often comes top of the list.

Pick the right supplier or manufacturer and you can end up with a quality product at a very competitive price, and sites such as Ali Express and Alibaba make Chinese suppliers very accessible.

It’s no wonder then that many online sellers are currently sourcing from China, which is great for 11 months of the year, but has the potential to go a bit pear shaped as Chinese New Year approaches!

Why? Well because Chinese New Year is the most important and most grand festival in China.

You could face 6 weeks with no stock

Chinese families exchange gifts, spend time with each other and to put it bluntly they take a well-earned holiday. I’m not talking about a few days holiday either.

Chinese New Year officially runs over a period of a week, but usually extends to two or even three weeks – and this year it’s between January 20th and 11th February (dates change every year, just to make things more confusing!)

What this means for you is that factories literally close down. This means no products are being produced which means that products are in short supply and even if they weren’t in short supply you will struggle to get orders shipped during this time.

It’s not unusual for a factory to start winding down up to two weeks before Chinese New Year – so they run down their stock levels – then close for two weeks, then take another two weeks to get manufacturing back up and running again.

So you can see the potential problem here if you rely on Chinese manufacturers and their products and you don’t do some strategic planning and organisation! You could have a 6 week gap or more, with no stock.

Expect serious delays during the Chinese exodus

There’s also the issue of ‘product quality’ around the period of Chinese New Year.

According to my research, many labourers live hundreds of miles from their places of employment and so they stay away from their families all year, and work, only seeing them during this Chinese New Year period when they travel home.

Once home they take their well-deserved rest, get some thinking time, meet friends and old colleagues…and it’s during this time that labourers are often offered jobs closer to home (which of course they will take) or be given some other opportunity which means they never return to their original factory job!

The knock-on effect of this is that when the factories re-open after the holiday they are very often employing new staff. These new staff have to be trained, will be new to the job and that’s when quality control can suffer.

Trying to get a new product concept up and running in January or February is possibly the worst time to do so!

Trying to place a repeat order for your best selling product in the six weeks surrounding Chinese New Year is also possibly the worst time to do so.

That’s why you must keep on top of your stock levels, order in advance and be very aware of the dates. If you do happen to order late then you must expect a delay in processing your order and the shipping of your goods.

So, what should you do?

1) Check your stock levels in advance 

Know how much stock you require at all times. Instead of ordering a huge amount of stock in one go, consider keeping track throughout the year and upping order quantities by small increments throughout the year instead. This way you’ll avoid a huge investment all at once.

2) Establish clear deadlines

Make sure you confirm your product requirements and shipping deadlines well ahead. Get everything in writing! If you are looking to use a manufacturer to create a new product then don’t set the ball rolling just before Chinese New Year – particularly if you are on a tight schedule!

3) Consider alternative sources

It’s never a good idea to have only one supplier and by using several suppliers (in different geographical locations) you will avoid disruption should you need additional stock during Chinese New Year.

4) Find a creative solution

Depending on your niche, there may be other similar or relevant products you can add to your inventory to help bridge the gap if you are short on one product.

The months that Chinese New Year falls within are not traditional ‘peak periods’ for many industries, therefore you may be able to negotiate a deal on older stock.

Of course the overall key is to be prepared, be organized and have a strategy in place in order to minimize disruption. This comes with knowing your business needs and planning in advance.

So, time is of the essence. If you are low on products, get your orders in as quickly as you can. Some manufacturers have already packed their suitcases!