E-Commerce Shipping Considerations During Chinese New Year 

chinese new year

Running your drop shipping business with products sourced from AliExpress?  Things flow well throughout the year, especially if you take the time to work with only the highest rated vendors.  And then into the start of every exciting new year comes an event that can slow down or even stop your customer shipments; Chinese New Year.

So, if you are wondering how a holiday could have a noticeable impact on your e-commerce shipping business, consider that during Chinese New Year, no goods are manufactured or shipped.  None.  And you need to prepare yourself (and advise your customers) for that period, to avoid complaints and service interruptions.

Because with a whole country preparing to take three weeks vacation, shipping errors and delays are bound to occur. And they do.  But seasoned e-commerce shipping business owners know how to manage this annual event, and some deploy some pretty effective strategies to queue sales demand immediately following Chinese New Year.

In this article we’re sharing some advice that you can use to navigate Chinese New Year annually.  Our marketing team at Dropified also has a few suggestions on how you can use the ‘shut down’ period to actually stimulate sales with product wait lists, and other marketing tactics.

What Is Chinese New Year and When Does It Occur?

In North America, depending on what day it falls on, most businesses will be closed early on December 31st and then for the statutory holiday on January 1st.  When you hear about all the fun and celebration that happens in China for the New Year, you might be a little jealous.

During Chinese New Year, almost all businesses are closed for a three-week period.  During the celebration, families travel across the country to reunite with other family members.   This travel period is necessary as many laborers come from small suburban villages and migrated to small residences in major cities like Shenzhen, Xiamen, Shantou or Zhuhai, where higher paying jobs are more plentiful. 

The Chinese New Year shifts annually because it is based on the lunar calendar and falls between the end of January and mid-February.  Save these dates and prepare your shipping and return policies accordingly. 

Chinese New Year will start:

  • Saturday January 25, 2020
  • Friday February 12, 2021

Chinese New Year is about family time, and laborers travel ‘home’ from the large cities to celebrate with their local community.  There are many festivals, fireworks, live music and dance events that unite the country in a celebration of their rich culture. 

China has one reoccurring industrial production problem; sometimes rural workers that travel home for Chinese New Year do not return to the cities, and to their manufacturing jobs.  Or sometimes, they migrate to new cities and new employment opportunities.

Annually you will notice a little slow down in shipping for about 4 weeks after Chinese New Year has ended, as factories may be impacted by transient or absent laborers.

Strategies to Help E-commerce Business Owners During CNY

Chinese New Year is a great opportunity to get caught up on administrative activities for your e-commerce store(s), such as adding new blog content, conducting product research for the Spring and Summer season, and SEO activities.

After you have posted a banner or popup notifying your customers about order fulfillment criteria during CNY, consider some of the other ways you can save money, and stimulate a rush of new customers and sales after the holiday is over.   Here is some advice from our marketing team at Dropified.

1. Temporarily Reduce Advertising Spend

Knowing that Chinese New Year will impact your drop shipping business for 1-3 weeks, it’s a good idea to pause or significantly reduce your advertising spend during this period of time.  There is no sense spending your budget to recruit more customers, when you know that shipping times and fulfillment will be stagnated.  

Instead, plan to reallocate your advertising spend 2-3 days before the holiday ends and consider launching a new campaign and promotion to get traffic and customers flowing through your site again.

2. Have a Door Crasher or Spring Sale with a Limited Time Countdown

If consumer websites like Wish.com have taught us anything, it is that online shoppers don’t mind waiting for certain products, if they know they are getting a good deal.  Wish ships products based on 2 to up to 6-week delivery window, which seems unbearably long in the era of Amazon Prime Free Two-Day shipping, but then again, there is that big price difference.  And that cost savings is what savvy online shoppers are looking for.

So, what is the best way to prepare for a known shipping delay, and still have orders streaming in through your e-commerce shop?  Celebrate Chinese New Year too, with a fantastic promotion

Find some trending and popular products, and offer them for a discount, shipping after the end of CNY. Spring décor or fashion items, and tech toys are a great example of the types of products that your customers will not mind wait listing for, if they know they are getting a real bargain.

Instead of trying to cope through the slow shipping period with apologies to your customers, and notifications about Chinese New Year impacting e-commerce goods and delivery, make it an annual sales event or door crasher, that your customers will look forward to (and tell their friends about).

Consider adding a countdown clock for the three weeks where Chinese New Year will be celebrated and make that your promotional FOMO (fear of missing out) call to action on your website.  Make sure to explain the latent delivery period, and the value of the discount of the annual sale for your customers.   When Chinese New Year is over, so is the special door crasher sale.  Make it fun!

3. Diversify Your Vendors

AliExpress is without a doubt, the largest and most diverse source of quality wholesale goods for e-commerce business owners.  But there are many independent vendors and manufacturers that will offer the same services (and in some cases, very similar products).

Profit margin is the main reason why drop shipper’s source from AliExpress.  If you are a North American based business, you can also access vendors on AliExpress that are based in the U.S.A.  When you are planning your product assortment for your shop, consider diversifying your vendor sources, to make sure that your sales don’t stagnate completely during the three-week annual shipping shutdown.

Want to solidify your relationships with key vendors in China, before Chinese New Year?  Don’t forget to send them an e-greeting and wish them a happy holiday and thank them for helping your business grow.  A little appreciation and thoughtfulness can go a long way to prioritize your orders, once the manufacturer is back to work after the holiday season.

Remember that some AliExpress vendors prepare months in advance, to ensure that they have sufficient stock on hand.  Don’t assume that all orders will be held until the end of the holiday.

In recent years, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to keep a skeleton staff to fulfill some of the orders during Chinese New Year.  

Communicate with your vendors in advance, to learn whether they will be shipping and fulfilling the products you have in your store to help you plan ahead.

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