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Chinese New Year! for Shipping Schedules – The Disruption, the Distinction and the Yearly reset. A Quick Guide for Merchants and Forwarders.

Festive disruption, costly distinction and the merits of planning

Chinese Lunar New Year! Red lights and Dragons for the Shipping industry (Unsplash)

Up next in February – Lunar, Spring Festival or Chinese New Year What is happening when and where:  an all-of-   China holiday period to starts Feb-12 2012 for a 1 to 2 weeks until Feb-25th. 2021 is for the year of the Ox. The production shuts down and with it – all the physical shipping of goods all the way through exporting China outbound. People are usually off with their families

there are no stand-ins, no fallback operations, or any other contingencies the once industrious logistician can pull out or beg through.

Why is the Lunar such a flashing event for the Freight? As with so much with any dynamic system, the Shipping runs into the period getting increasingly inefficient so much now after the boom 2020, with all the backlog volumes, rollovers of already gate-in exports in many ports and equipment positions really thin.

Now, the closer we get to the Spring Festival, the harder it gets to plan, order  and ship.

What to look out for:

Have credible production schedule from supplier. Regular checks. At the minimum, with the lead time into the last pre-Lunar shipments. You don’t want a missed delivery get ticked as production issue. Everybody else gets to prioritize too, and all else will compete on the same seller’s market.

Ask for pre-shipment checkpoints: expedition documents – warehouse receipts/orders, packing list, quality certificates, pro-forma invoices, product packaging, marks and numbers for the ready batch. Get the pictures when you can. Ask again if you cannot.

Check cutoffs. Sailings (again). Sailing Schedules’ Updates (yet again).

Have terms, payments and rest paperwork agreed and remitted on time.

Use your tried and true contact for the critical shipments. Should be a solid one to stand their ground when departure slots and empty containers run out. On the face of it you buy a company service, in reality you buy from people.

Generally, don’t shop for rates late into the Lunar unless you can be sure. A venturing forwarder would entice last minute volumes on price, just to control between carriers, but ultimately it’s the shipper that misses the sailing.

Above said, be sure that exporters and manufacturers build anticipation stock in the run up. Unless you get to know about it yourself, have a buyer rep to scout and negotiate locally. Some independent buyers and agents can even accommodate your inquiry from out-of China supply base. This can be a one off but it can get them your repeat business if they manage a timely remedy. Be prepared to commit.  The more generic your merchandise, the easier it lends itself to substitution from new suppliers.

Good product sourcing tactics on how to tackle the Spring Festival campaign given your product specifics is offered on the China Trade Content links like Oberlo , forwarders websites or Marketplace Platforms like AliExpress .

If yours is a digitally advanced enterprise,  and already at the Industry 4.0 stage, you can work out the analytics and marketing muscle for the insights and influence onto when and why – who of your end customers click on what, and then you would be most likely using the Lunar excitement to craft campaigns and step up serving your market.

What is you cargo? ..” The shipping agent asked nonchalantly

Did you know that your cargo type matters plenty, for the prioritization eligibility, especially during tight capacity times and rollovers?

The physical characteristics of the goods you source and ship is also key to what pricing and service you get. Other things being equal, dry packaged, lightweight cargo, which is easy to handle and is bearing no hazards is the ideal target – in fact the darling on the carriers (and their agents) side. Know your advantage as a shipper or be flexible if there are specifics (constraints).

In summary:

The fair amount of common sense planning will get you over the Lunar with no rip off charges or empty shelves. It hurts for a product (or brand) to miss a delivery cycle but on the flip side it’s what brand is about – add traction to loyalty. For the rest non-brands and generics, i.e. the – Freght All Kinds (FAK) shipping volumes – we cannot emphasize enough the Shipping industry, is still very much a shoulder rubbing business and merchants still need to invest in relations with their service partners from the Marine industry.

Last, when Lunar campaign settles, it’s usually just time to renegotiate yearly contract with carriers, so even though the Lunar costly, bruising and intense experience for container shipping, it’s a learning curve period you can use to educate in rubbing shoulders.

Health! Until next time with the Dragons and Lanterns!

Happy Spring Festivities! |

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