It begins. Today, earlier than anyone expected, UPS, one of main international carriers out of Hong Kong and China has announced that they will not be shipping any more consignments of USB flash drives this side of Chinese New Year.
This is a problem. Not just for us but for the industry as a whole. UPS, we assume, have decided to give priority to other consignments in the run-up to the National Holiday. Clearly there is limited capacity and with everyone knowing that we’re about to enter a 3-4 week “black hole”, that capacity has very quickly been taken.
Shipments that would have originally been scheduled with UPS are now being moved over to DHL but it won’t be long before DHL buckle under the pressure and impose their own restrictions. What’s slightly unnerving about this is just how soon it’s happening. Chinese New Year is on the 19th February, the factories close (or stop taking orders in anticipation of the holiday closures) on the 26th January but between now and the 19th February the hope was that the couriers would operate a near normal service.
This early action by UPS is likely to lead to panic in the market as re-sellers, suppliers and customers around the world who rely on them begin to fight for alternative shipping slots. Expect lots of trouble and lots of disappointed customers.
If you place an order for promotional USB sticks and your order gets caught up in this then bear in mind that it could be March before you see your order. Yes, March and even then it could be mid-March! Once your order is “in the system” there is little that can be done – you’re at the mercy of the couriers, the customs teams and the good will of all involved. Typically your contract won’t allow you to cancel or back-out of your order once placed (because no-one else will want a USB stick with your logo on) so it’ll just be a case of waiting for them to arrive. If you’re got a time critical event you ordered them for (a seminar, trade show, conference etc.) then this could be a bit of a problem!
Our advice (and we’ve been saying this for several weeks) is to place your orders now, don’t wait and place it with one of the larger companies that has some leverage in the market and will be able to use the contractual relationships with the couriers to get your order through in the next few days. Failing that order from a local company that has stock in-house and can print and supply from stock – this completely de-risks everything and means you could get your finished sticks in a matter of days from order!
Having been through this madness every year for the last 10 years or more we always stock in advance of Chinese New Year so that we can offer our customers UK printed and engraved options. This year we will again continue to offer our various “rush” service offerings throughout Chinese New Year. To be assured of delivery of promotional USB Flash Drives during over the next few weeks give us a call.