Many experienced importers know to place their orders with Suppliers well before Chinese New Year and often Christmas as well. However, it’s important to consider the seasonality of your own business as well.
My company imports many outdoor recreation products which are extremely seasonal- most of our demand is in the summer months. Subsequently, I like to place orders and time them to arrive sometime in Spring (i.e. April or May). Subsequently, I would place our orders early in January to allow more than enough time to receive the orders. I was noticing, however, many of our Suppliers would not end up shipping our products until June, July, or even August – critically late for the seasonality of our company.
Through the pain of all of the lost sales, I took note of the sad irony that our orders were arriving at almost entirely the wrong time: as soon as our season was over! Eventually I clued in: nearly all my Supplier’s clients were placing orders with the goal of receiving them some time in April or May. Subsequently, our suppliers would get extremely backed up around this time.
There was an extremely simple solution to all of this: if I knew my Supplier’s clients were ordering with the hopes of receiving their goods in April, I simply had to order a month earlier with the hope of receiving our order in March. Amazingly our lead time went from well over 100 days to more like 45 days.
The takeaway from all of this is to be well aware of any seasonality influences of your business. If you’re importing snowboards, chances are you’re importing with the goal of having them arrive some time in late Fall. Guess what: so is everyone else! Set clear expectations with your supplier of when your goods must ship by. And, as always, whatever date you want your goods to ship by, insist to your supplier that they must ship 30 days prior to that!