How To Avoid Production and Shipping Delays When Working with Chinese Suppliers (2023)

China is one of the largest and most comprehensive export markets in the world. Many importers (clients) will import products from China. We believe that over 99.99% of importers have experienced production and shipping delays.

Do you know what causes production and shipping delays?

Do you know how to avoid them?

This article takes the handbag industry as an example to explain the reasons for production and shipping delays and gives several ways to avoid delays when importing goods in China.

a meeting about delays

What Causes Production and Shipping Delays?

We divide the reasons for production and shipping delays into three categories, namely external reasons, supplier reasons, and importer reasons.

External Reasons

External reasons refer to reasons that come from outside the buyer and seller, usually, buyers and sellers are powerless.

Global Events

The most common global event of the past three years has been Covid-19. The resulting lockdowns and infections have had a huge impact on production and shipping delays, which cannot be avoided.

Fortunately, after three years of hard work, the impact of Covid-19 in China is getting smaller and smaller. It is believed that after the Spring Festival in 2023, the impact on orders will be minimal.

Weather Conditions

Unfavorable weather is another cause of production and shipping delays. June-September is the main period when typhoons affect China’s southeast coast (the main production base). Production and shipping during this period are easily affected by the weather.

Logistics Problems

The logistics company’s booking error leads to the failure of the booking or the delay of the shipping schedule. This happens rarely but is possible.


I believe many people will never forget the 3.23 Suez Canal freighter stranded accident in 2021.

If your cargo happened to be on the ship, it must be something you will never forget.

The goods got on the ship on time, but it was still delayed.

Go to hell.

Importer Reasons

Production and shipping delays are not necessarily the fault of the supplier, but may also be the fault of the importer. Let’s take a look at what actions by importers can lead to delays.

Confirm Production Details Too Late

Procrastination is human nature. Suppliers will procrastinate, and importers will procrastinate.

Some importers promised to confirm the order details within 3 days but did not confirm it until 10 days later.

Suppliers can only produce orders from other customers first. As a result, the importer’s order was delayed.

Change Design or Order Midway

Changing the design midway can easily cause delays.

For example, after the supplier prepared all materials, the importer asked to use rose gold instead of the gun metal hardware of the handbag.

The vendor had to reorder a batch of rose gold hardware. Waste of money and time. Whose problem is this? This is an obvious question.

Place Too Many Orders with One Supplier

Some importers have only one backup supplier. When neither the primary supplier nor the backup supplier can fulfill an order, the remaining orders must be filled by the primary supplier, just to be on the safe side.

However, this huge order has far exceeded the production capacity of major suppliers, and the order can only be postponed.

So, Plan B is not enough. Smart importers have a plan C, maybe even a plan D.

Supplier Reasons

As a supplier, we can say without hesitation that more than half of production and shipping delays are caused by suppliers.

Let’s look at the main reasons.

Disordered Production Planning

Disordered production planning is one of the main reasons for production and shipment delays.

Some factories are large, but the management is messy. Although some factories are small, the managers can arrange things in an orderly manner.

This is a test of the ability of the factory manager.

Take Too Many Orders

In order to receive more orders, some factories did not consider their own production capacity and lied to customers about the delivery date, which caused delays.

For such suppliers, imports must stay away from them.

Materials Or Craftsmanship Not Completed on Time

Materials or craftmanship suppliers do not complete on time, which is one of the reasons for delays.

In 2022, the embroidery of a handbag order was delayed by 7 days. Although we adjusted our production plan and increased working hours, it was still delayed by 2 days.

These are common reasons for delays in the handbag industry. It has reference value for other industries.

The Impact of Production and Shipping Delays

Above, we analyzed common causes of production and shipping delays in the handbag industry. Here we discuss the impact of delayed deliveries.

Lost Revenue

Production and shipping delays mean products that are supposed to go on sale don’t hit shelves on time.

The advertising campaigns that have been done and the accumulated enthusiasm of consumers have all been submerged by the cold water of order delays.

Consumers turned around and bought competitors’ products.

The result is a drop in sales and a loss of revenue.

Damage To Brand Trust

The first delay, the consumer might say no problem.

The second delay, um…

The third delay, maybe other brands are better.

Here we only show the two biggest impacts of delays. In fact, there are many other impacts, so we won’t list them one by one.

6 Tips to Avoid Production and Shipping Delays When Working with Chinese Suppliers

We know the causes and effects of production and shipping delays, but how can they be avoided?

Here, we give 6 tips for avoiding them when working with Chinese suppliers.

Plan & Schedule in Advance

Experienced importers always know that there are certain times of the year when delivery orders are prone to delays.

Summarizing previous experience and methods, making plans in advance, and arranging the delivery schedule will help you deal with various new problems in your work.

Manage Production with A Timesheets

According to the production process of handbags, making a production timesheet showing the progress and completion time of each activity, ensuring that you can track and make necessary adjustments in time, is an effective way to avoid production and shipment delays.

The following is a reference handbag production timesheet. If you need it, please feel free to contact us.

an example of handbag production timesheet

You can also find some free production timesheet templates from this link.

Work with Multiple Suppliers (Make Plan C or D)

As mentioned above, placing too many orders with one supplier is also a cause of production and shipment delays, so we must avoid this situation.

If plan B is not enough, then plan C or D.

Production Monitoring to Find and Resolve Issues Early

If you have your own QC or a third-party QC in China, let them give feedback on the production progress of the supplier at any time, so as to find and solve problems in advance.

Or you can ask the supplier to give photos or videos to feedback on the production progress, it has the same effect.

Partner With More than one Logistics Teams

As the old saying goes, it’s not a great idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

Whether cooperative logistics companies or backup logistics companies, as an importer, you should keep in touch with them. When necessary, a backup logistics company can solve your urgent needs.

Stay In Touch with Your Suppliers

The most important and easy to forget is to maintain good communication with suppliers.

Ask about production progress frequently and let suppliers know the importance of your order so they put your company/brand first.

What Should We Do When Our Supplier Tells Us About Production and Shipping Delays?

Nobody likes delays, but now that this is happening, what are we going to do about it?

Keep Calm and Actively Communicate with your Supplier

We can all get very angry when hearing about delays, but anger doesn’t solve the problem.

At this time, we must keep calm.

Only by maintaining active communication with suppliers can problems be solved faster and orders can be finished and shipped as soon as possible.

Blame, anger, and complaints can all be placed after shipping.

Confirm New Delivery Date with Supplier

Since the original delivery date cannot be met, we must ask your supplier to give a new delivery date without further delay.

In order to avoid any new situation, it is better to add 2 to 4 days to the new delivery time as the ideal delivery time.

Hold A Team Meeting

Due to the unavoidable delay, a meeting of all relevant personnel of the project was called to inform the current order status and new delivery date, so that relevant personnel can adjust their work and minimize losses.

Communicate With Multiple Logistics to Find a Better Shipping Method

Not limited to cooperative logistics companies, you can contact multiple logistics companies at the same time to find a better route, and try your best to recover from production delays through better transportation solutions.

For example, European importers may consider using China-Europe liner instead of sea freight. Although it will increase the transportation cost, it can shorten the time.

Request A Report to Find Out the Problem and Avoid it In the Future

For delayed orders, shipping does not mean the end of this order.

A comprehensive report, including an analysis of why there is a delay, who is responsible, and how to avoid similar incidents in future work, is essential work for suppliers after shipment.

Ask your supplier to provide its report and discuss liability and compensation issues.

How To Avoid Production and Shipping Delays by Chinese New Year (CNY)?

Happy Chinese New Year 2023

Doing business with Chinese suppliers cannot avoid the topic of the Chinese New Year holiday.

Experienced importers can always avoid some unnecessary problems around this holiday, such as order delays, how to arrange new orders before/after the CNY holiday, and what can be done during the CNY holiday.

What Is the Chinese New Year Holiday?

The Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is a holiday for Chinese people to celebrate the arrival New Year from the end of each year to the first fifteen days of the following year based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

How Long Will CNY Holiday Last?

According to the Chinese government’s official holiday schedule, the CNY holiday is 7 days, from New Year’s Eve to the sixth day of the Lunar New Year.

According to folk customs, the CNY holiday lasts for 16 days from New Year’s Eve to the fifteenth day of the new year.

Each company/factory will have different holidays according to their own plans. The general holiday starts seven days before the Spring Festival and lasts until the eighth day of the Lunar New Year, with a total of 15 days.

For example, in 2023 our company has a total of 21 days for the Spring Festival holiday, from January 11 to 31, 2023.

Chinese New Year in 2023 is January 22.

What You Can Do During CNY Holiday?

During the CNY holiday, generally speaking, you cannot contact your suppliers.

Even if you contact your supplier, it won’t solve your problem, because all the factories in China are on holiday, and there is nothing he/she can help you with.

However, during this time, you can design some new handbags, select new styles, and prepare for new orders after the Spring Festival.

Should Place New Order Before CNY?

This is not an absolute question.

If the order is urgent and is for an old supplier, then I think it is okay to place an order before the CNY holiday.

Your suppliers can prepare materials first, and start production after the CNY holiday.

If it is an order from a new supplier, you can wait. Maybe there will be surprises after the Spring Festival holiday.

When Will Everyone Go Back to Work After CNY Holiday?

Generally speaking, some workers will back to work on the eighth day of the Chinese New Year.

More than 75% of workers work again on the 16th day of the first lunar month.

More than 95% of workers work again on the 25th day of the first lunar month.

About 5% of workers still stay in their hometown and spend more time with their loves and children, as the CNY holiday is the only long holiday for them in one year.

What Can You Do to Avoid CNY Holiday Impact?

Plan Ahead Whenever Possible

Like we said above, everything needs to be planned in advance.

For orders delivered before CNY, you must first ask your supplier about the CNY holiday plan to deduce whether your supplier can fulfill your order and make appropriate arrangements.

The best way is to set your delivery date 1 week before your supplier’s Chinese New Year holiday.

Pay Attention to The Last Shipping Time Before CNY Holiday

Don’t forget to check with your logistics company for the last shipping time before the Chinese New Year holiday.

It is safer to choose the second-to-last shipping time as your shipping time.

At the same time, you should combine the Spring Festival holiday time of your supplier in the first point above to determine your delivery date.

Do Not Place a Rush Order

Rush orders should not be placed and delivered before the Spring Festival, because this period is the busiest time of the year for your suppliers.

Rush orders will also become less urgent during this period. Because there are always emergencies. Once it happens, it is irreversible.


This article is only a partial introduction to the causes of order production and shipping delays and how to avoid them.

Different industries will have different causes and solutions. Welcome to leave your comments below and discuss with us.

Uncle Nine Leather is a professional handbag supplier in Guangzhou, China. Completing customer orders on time and shipping them out is our constant goal.

Welcome your inquiry and discuss your new project with us.


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Uncle Nine Leather are a professional bag supplier in Guangzhou, China, providing one-stop service of design, development, search, customization and production of women’s fashion handbags, shoulder bags, waist bags, backpacks and accessories.

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