Can you Protect yourself from Delivery delays?

POSTED ON July 13, 2021

When sourcing from other countries, the biggest concern of all importers apart from quality, is delay. They want lead times to be short and consistent. In manufacturing, lead time represents the time taken to make a product and deliver it to the consumer. There are various factors that can affect the lead time. These include problems include unavailability of raw materials, labour shortages, transportation problems, natural calamities, human errors and others.

Different products have different lead times. Regular products with well-established supply chains have shorter lead time. However, products that require special raw materials or tooling have a longer lead time. The same product if manufactured locally will have a much shorter lead time compared to a product sourced from another country.

No importer wants a long lead time as it may cost them customers, revenue and good-will. However, when a factory promises a very short lead time, you should be wary. Unrealistic lead times are often hard to achieve, and even if the factory tries their best to do it, they will end up skipping some steps and compromise the quality. So, you don’t really get the best version of the product you ordered. This can adversely affect your revenue and reputation. So, it is advisable that you plan ahead and allow reasonable lead times to the supplier.

It is important to note that despite best efforts, occasional delays are unavoidable. All you can do is plan well and be prepared to handle any delays. It is also important to understand what can cause delays.

What causes the delays?

You have been tracking your order and you can see that it has still not been shipped. It will surely leave you flustered. Your first step should be to get in touch with the supplier and try to find out the reason behind the delay.

The delay could be preventable of non-preventable. Preventive delay could be due to poor planning such as not accounting for unavailability of labour during Chinese New Year festivities. It could also be due to human error.  In some rare situations, a supplier can also push your order down the production schedule and give priority to a larger order. All these are obviously preventable delays.

Delays can also be non-preventable. One of the most common reasons could be non-availability or delay in procuring raw materials. Some recent developments have caused across-the-board delays in China. When the world reopened after the first wave of Covid, there was a great influx of orders due to which there was a shortage of containers and this was causing delays.

Now, a recent surge in Covid cases in Southern China particularly in the Guangdong province has disrupted the global supply chain. Total exports. Guangdong is a major shipping hub and accounts for around 24% of China’s total exports. Authorities have had to shut down businesses and districts to prevent this deadly virus from spreading further. This is causing huge delays in all major Chinese ports.

Also, recently, one of the largest container ships in the world got stuck in the Suez Canal. This caused a blockage in one of the most important trading routes for almost a week. This incidence had led to a global shipping crisis.

These are just some examples of things that can go wrong and cause non-preventable delays.

Can you do something about delays?

The first and the most important thing you need to do is to communicate your lead time clearly to the supplier at the very beginning. Make sure this lead time is included in the manufacturing contract as well. Remember, written contracts are legally binding so the supplier will ensure that he commits to a lead time only if they can actually meet the deadline. Ideally, the supplier should add a few days to the lead time they promise to the client as this can act as a buffer in case of an untoward situation occurs. Unfortunately, there is nothing one can do about delays caused by natural disasters or other systemic issues. The best an importer can do is to plan well ahead in time and communicate the desired lead time clearly and have it included in the manufacturing contract as well.

Also, in your manufacturing contract, you should specify what happens in event of a delay-refunds, returns etc.

Seeking help from a Chinese sourcing agent

When sourcing your products from another country, there are many variables involved. It is often difficult to keep a control on everything while sitting thousands of miles away. So, it is best to hire services of a competent China sourcing agent who can act as your representative and help you with the entire sourcing process from beginning to end. The sourcing agent will not just help you with finding the supplier but will also help with documentation, quality inspections, warehousing and shipping.

Please contact our team now to get started.

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