China on lockdown due to the Coronavirus – how to deal with it as an E-commerce Seller?

I just got this warning this morning in my email inbox.

The WHO has declared the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. 

My family and I traveled through Hong Kong this week and everyone on the streets, subways, and airports were nervous and wearing breathing masks.  And masks were sold out everywhere.

This is fearful time and a time of uncertainty but this is what we know so far. The Chinese New Year Holidays have been extended.   

Traditionally I recommend that you planned your suppliers to be closed for up to a month for Chinese new year. But this is uncharted territory things can last a lot longer depending on how the virus plays out.  If the outbreak continues, look for the return to be postponed.  

And I wouldn’t doubt that China has the ability to do this.  For example in China, they’ve closed down the city of Wuhan with over 11 million people the size of Chicago!  The streets are empty with trains stopped, planes grounded, and roads closed. 

In HK and China the public schools had their holidays officially extended as well. 

Factories and companies in Shanghai are mandated to continue closures until Feb 9th (for now).  

So the short answer is nobody knows when factories can expect to come back.  

At the same time, one of the number one mistakes sellers make according to the 7 Figure Seller Summit is running out of stock. Not only do you lose thousands of dollars in your business by not having any inventory to sell, you are also hurting your chances of selling your business at a higher value because you are leaving money on the table and less profit. 

Due to the virus in China my product is not available at the moment… Do you have any suggestions on websites alternative to Alibaba for sourcing from India, Pakistan, SEA, Korea and Japan? 

Smart businesses have a backup plan including sourcing from other countries such as India Vietnam etc. as well as accurate inventory forecast and a backup stock to account for these types of uncertainties. 

Global Sources offers limited listings for suppliers outside of China in several of those countries. But their coverage is no means as complete as Alibaba is for China.   

Unfortunately in my experience, Indian suppliers are not well represented on Alibaba.  In an informal poll of 50 Indian suppliers, I met in Delhi, when I asked only about 4 of them were listed on Alibaba.  The way to meet them is to visit India and the Delhi Fair for example.   

Also, I strongly recommend the India Sourcing Trip hosted by Meghla Bhardwaj for a crash course on India sourcing.  Here’s a report of what I learned when I visited India in Oct 2019.   

For Vietnam check out my masterclass with Jim Kennemer on Vietnam Sourcing Best Practices and Rookie Mistakes.  He mentions several sites he recommends. 

If staying in China, here’s a previous article I wrote on Chinese New Year Sourcing Best Practices that you might find useful: Chinese New Year Sourcing Best Practices from China.

I’m curious if your business has been affected by the Coronavirus, what will you do to deal with it?   

Good luck to everyone and stay safe! 


Author: Gary

I work with many Amazon sellers to help them source from China. I’ve managed multimillion dollar sourcing campaigns and have been sourcing from China since 2008. I also am an Amazon Private Label seller myself so I know what you’re going through. My goal is to teach you how to source from China quickly and easily so you can own a 7-figure online business.

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