As the calendar year comes to a close and holiday sales start to slow down, sellers should be ramping up for 2018, whether that’s ordering more inventory or sourcing a new product for your brand.
So when’s the best time to order for early 2018 selling? Immediately. If you haven’t already, getting those orders in as soon as possible is critical to having enough inventory to last you through early spring.
Why the rush? Three words: Chinese. New. Year.
The Chinese New Year is serious business, workers get at least 7 days off and factories close for up to a month. Yep, you heard that right, most factories will be closed for an entire month, beginning as early as two weeks before the New Year (which lands on February 16th this year) and lasting through the remainder of February.
Want to order samples for a potential new 2018 product offering? Now’s the time to order those too. Waiting until after the New Year means samples won’t arrive until mid to late March.
If you choose to move forward with the product, you’re looking at sometime in June before you’re FBA ready with stock available. That’s months of unproductive capital and less time to get the product ranking and selling before next year’s Q4.
Before Chinese New Year
Every factory does not follow the same closing schedule, but a good rule of thumb is to order inventory (for new or existing products) at least 45 days before Chinese New Year, although closer to 60 would be a safer bet. If you have a product that takes longer to manufacture, the earlier you place your order, the better. Because many factories will close before the holiday, waiting until a week before the 16th to order will leave you empty-handed.
You don’t just want to factor in the time it will take to manufacture your goods either. You should also consider how long it will take to be shipped, and know that cargo companies also close down for a period around Chinese New Year.
Although many Chinese cargo and shipping companies do not close until 3-4 days before the holiday, you’ll want to make sure your merchandise is ready to ship at least a couple weeks before this in case any issues arise. You do not want your goods to be stuck at port over the long holiday, most likely leaving you without the inventory you need and with a nice holding fee from the cargo company.
If you do get your order in and shipped before Chinese New Year, make sure to also run a thorough quality check over the items. As the rush to get orders completed before the holiday presses down on manufacturers, quality control may be more difficult to manage on their end. While it’s always smart to quality check, this time of year is especially important and could save you loads of customer service headaches later.
After Chinese New Year
The schedule for factories returning to work after the holiday varies as well. Most manufacturers will be back to handling administrative tasks within 5-10 days after Chinese New Year. That means they will answer your email, but they may not be back in the full swing of production.
Once production starts up again, work is likely to be slow and loads of orders will be backlogged. Don’t expect a timely turnaround or consistent communication, as being gone for that long causes delays and backups. Some manufacturers raise prices after Chinese New Year as well, so don’t be surprised if your costs increase when they return to work.
Not only will manufacturers be backlogged around this time (late February-early March), Amazon likely will as well. Loads of orders will flood into fulfillment centers after the holiday, causing backlog and delays.
Source and Order Now
If you’re looking to order fresh inventory for existing products, contact your manufacturer immediately to place your order. And, keep in mind you may want to order more than usual to maintain stock during the Chinese New Year.
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