The delays you can't avoid

So you placed your order with a factory and are now waiting patiently for production to finish. What could possibly go wrong? The answer is, unfortunately, a lot. Here are some of the more common delays you may experience – and how to avoid them.

Holiday headaches

China has seven national holidays each year: New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year, Qingming, May Day, Dragon Boat, Mid-Autumn Day and National Day. All of these involve more than one day off, meaning factories close for extended periods and often for weeks at a time. As you can imagine, factories become especially busy in the lead-up to these holidays. Always make sure to check the production schedule with the factory before placing the order and ask them about any upcoming holidays. If there is a national holiday within throwing distance of the completion date of your order, state explicitly that you expect it to be finished before that date.

VIP access

Just as fully-booked restaurants miraculously find tables for their best customers, so too factories do their best to keep their VIP customers happy. This means that sometimes you may find that your order has been delayed for an unknown reason – it is entirely possible it has been pushed back in order to accommodate a larger, more lucrative order or a repeat customer. When starting out, your order quantities are likely to be small. Giving yourself an extra week or two to accommodate this kind of delay will ensure you are not caught short.

When less isn’t more

Once your order is complete, the factory will send it to the port so that it can be shipped to you. If your order is LCL (Less than Container Load), the factory may delay sending your order to the port until they can combine it with another order to save on shipping costs. There is not much to be done to avoid this, other than ordering a full container load. As above, factor in an extra week to your production schedule to minimize any damage from a later delivery.

Forget to pay the bill?

China is the world’s largest consumer of electricity, and supply is not meeting demand. The result of this is that the state governments periodically shut down electricity to certain areas or cities, on specified days or unexpectedly. This is a particular hazard during late spring and early summer, when the use of air-conditioners spike. If such an event occurs during production of your order, expect lengthy delays across the entire supply chain.

These are a few of the common delays you may encounter during the production of your order. While you may not be able to control them, being aware of and planning for them will go a long way in making sure you are not caught short.