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How to prepare your eCommerce Business for Chinese New Year

If you source or sell any product from China or Aliexpress, you’re probably familiar with Chinese New Year. If so, you know that Chinese New Year has a big impact on supply chains all over the world, including production and shipping times. If this Chinese New Year will be your first as an eCommerce entrepreneur, let us help prepare you for what to expect and how to remain competitive and profitable during this holiday. 

What is the Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. It is the most important celebration in China — and one of the most well known across the world. It is celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Overseas Chinese populations, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Mauritius, as well as in North America and Europe.

Chinese New Year (CNY) begins on Friday, February 12th, 2021. The official celebration starts February 12th and ends February 26th. While the festival is celebrated over a two week period, only the first seven days are considered a public holiday. 

Nevertheless, offices and factories in China close for about three weeks, allowing Chinese workers time to travel back home to spend the holiday with their families. This event creates an enormous migration within the country and from abroad. For context, in 2019, over 90 million workers, the majority in urban areas along China’s coast, traveled by road, train, and plane back to their rural hometowns during CNY.

Chinese New Year 2021: What is the timeline?

Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 12, 2021. 

Suppliers in China will begin slowing down or halting production a week or so before. We recommend you ask your suppliers when their offices and factories will be closed during this holiday.

Outlined below is an approximate schedule for Chinese New Year holiday.

  • End of January: Businesses begin to slow down production
  • Early February: Some employees start their holiday early
  • February 11: All employees will have left their offices and factories
  • February 12: Chinese New Year begins
  • February 26: Chinese New Year ends
  • End of February: Some employees start to trickle back to their place of work
  • March 4: Most employees have returned to their place of work
  • March 11: Businesses resume their normal operations and production

Chinese New Year 2021: How will CNY affect my eCommerce business?

As highlighted earlier, Chinese New Year is the most important event in China every year. This means that most businesses, including the suppliers on AliExpress you may work with, observe the holiday and shut down for a period of time. While CNY officially kicks off February 12, many factories and offices shut down in the days leading up to the official start date, allowing time for workers to travel home back to their families. As workers leave, the general operations of businesses come to a halt as well. .

Since China is an economic giant in the global exporting industry, the effects of Chinese New Year ripples to all corners of the world. The ripples affect many different industries, including eCommerce dropshipping.  

For example, if you are actively sourcing and selling products from AliExpress, Chinese New Year will affect your business. Below is a list of some disruptions to expect during CNY.

How Chinese New Year may affect your supply chain 

All major businesses in China completely shut down for at least seven days. This includes factories and manufacturing facilities. No orders ship out of China during CNY. Some factories may even shut down for up to three weeks. Why so long? There is sometimes a delay in getting workers back to their offices. China’s transportation system is usually overburdened in the days following the end of the holiday as all workers choose to go back at once.

The information flow is cut during the Chinese New Year event. No one, including your best suppliers, will be available for correspondence. 

You might experience production slowdowns one or two weeks before the start of the holiday. Workers sometimes leave their job sites early to go back home and spend time with their families. 

Before CNY, you may experience an increase in product quality issues, as factories rush to finish as many orders as possible before their workers leave for the holiday.

Likewise, after CNY, you may also experience an increase in product quality issues. This happens because the factories are short staffed for a period of time. 

How to Plan for Chinese New Year

At Modalyst, most of our independent suppliers are from the US and Europe and will not be affected. Now is your chance to try more of our curated suppliers or join our Private Label Program and new Print-on-Demand Program.

If you are sourcing products from AliExpress, you should expect delays while warehouses and logistics in China and Hong Kong are reduced during the holiday from February 8, 2021 through February 26, 2021. Many warehouses also are stocking up on bestsellers now, and start to wind down a week earlier to extend their holiday.

What steps can you take to maintain your business during CNY?

Contact your suppliers to understand their plans

  • When are they winding down?
  • When are they starting up again?
  • Can they still ship during this time period?

Consider selling USA or EU brands during this time

This is a great time to branch out and sell indie brands. You can also join our very popular Private Label Program and our new Print-on-Demand Program to sell products with custom designs and your branding.

According to Chinese tradition, this is a year to focus on relationships. We hope that this is a time to build a deeper relationship with our customers and for you to build a thriving business with your customers.

Reduce ads 

Once you have a better idea of your suppliers’ plans, you can reduce ads for items which will ship slowly during this time. It is good to check on this now, as some suppliers start to slow down in the weeks leading up to CNY. For example, reduce marketing for Valentine’s Day or Mardi Gras items, as those items may not arrive in time.

Consider buying stock of bestsellers

Do you have a hot selling item? Consider buying stock of this item now so you have it on-hand. You can then guarantee that orders are delivered during this time period.

Inform customers that orders are experiencing delays

Consider posting on your website that orders will experience delays. Customers will often understand, especially since Covid has also reduced the number of flights, slowing ecommerce delivery times globally.

You can also remind customers that orders are experiencing delays in an email after they place their order. This will ensure that they are reminded of delays if they did not see it on your site.

In case you want to plan ahead for future Chinese holidays, please see the below.

Chinese New Year may be the biggest holiday but there are actually several other Chinese holidays that could have an effect on your business. 

Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day): Sunday, April 4th

International Labor Day: Saturday, May 1st

Dragon Boat Festival: June 14th – 16th

Mid-Autumn Festival/Moon Festival: Tuesday, September 21st

Golden Week Holiday: Friday, October 1st – Thursday, October 7th