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In a typical dropshipping model, your customer’s orders are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer. Since packages often arrive with an invoice, customers might get their hands on information you don’t want them to see.
For example, let’s say you’re a reseller and a customer orders a box of light bulbs from you and your supplier ships the order. When it arrives, it includes the original invoice and the name of your supplier. The invoice shows a much cheaper price than what the customer paid you. In this instance, your customer might want to order directly from your supplier next time, which takes you out of the equation.
So how do you solve this problem? Blind shipping is a common dropshipping best practice that keeps your supplier anonymous. Read on to learn more about how blind shipping works.
What is blind shipping?
Blind shipping is a type of dropshipping method that ships orders directly from the manufacturer to the customer while keeping the name and identity of your supplier anonymous. This way, the customer assumes that it came directly from you.
Similar to white label services, there is no branding or labeling that identifies who your supplier is. To conduct a blind shipment, the shipment is prepaid and the request to ship blind is done before shipping. The name and contact information of the shipper (your supplier) is then taken off the bill of lading (BOL) before it gets shipped to its final destination.
Why do retailers use blind shipping?
Blind shipping is a common supply chain management technique that protects your business (and potential profits or recurring revenue) by keeping your supplier anonymous. This helps encourage your customers to order from you again and not directly from the source, letting you maintain the role as the middleman rather than losing customers to your supplier. Blind shipping also reduces the chance of competitors finding out what supplier you work with.
Benefits of using blind shipping
When dropshipping orders, there are several benefits of blind shipping that can protect your business and reduce the risk of retail supply chain issues.
1. Secure supply chain management
Blind shipping allows merchants to maintain a steady supply chain and reduces the risk of customers buying directly from the supplier. That way, you protect your business from losing customers by continuing to be the middleman. Note: Blind shipping can help secure your supply chain when dropshipping, but be aware that dropshipping can cause a lack of control over product quality and shipping times.
2. Maintain your competitive advantage
Blind shipping keeps your suppliers’ information a secret from competitors. If you have a great relationship with your supplier and they offer you a great price and/or the best products, your competitors could find out and look into working with your supplier so they can offer the same high-quality products to customers at a competitive price.
3. Maintain a hands-off approach
Dropshipping blind provides a hands-off approach to running your ecommerce business while protecting it. You don’t have to stock and maintain inventory yourself, and your supplier takes care of shipping orders for you while remaining anonymous. Note: Although this is a cost-effective logistics model, many ecommerce businesses choose to store inventory with a third-party logistics (3PL) partner for more control, reduced transit times, and fewer headaches.
What’s the difference between blind shipping and dropshipping?
It’s not uncommon for people to confuse the terms ‘blind shipping’ and dropshipping.’ Dropshipping is a shipping method that consists of shipping orders directly from the manufacturer to the customer’s door. The term ‘blind shipping’ is used to describe the practice of keeping the shipper anonymous by taking supplier information off the BOL before it reaches its destination.
Why is dropshipping unreliable?
The idea of not having to deal with managing inventory and handing off order fulfillment to your manufacturer might sound appealing, but dropshipping comes with its own set of issues. Some of them include:
- Quality control: Since orders are sent directly from the manufacturer, you lose control over the quality of your products. In the long run, this can damage your relationship with customers, especially if product quality is inconsistent after each purchase.
- Order return issues: Some suppliers are unwilling to manage returns, which complicates matters if a faulty product is delivered to your customers. You might not have to worry about shipping the order, but you will still have to worry about processing returns.
- Low margins: Unlike a wholesaler that sells in bulk, dropshipping suppliers are more expensive to work with because of the high logistics costs, including inventory storage, shipping insurance, and shipping costs, which ultimately cut into your profit margins.
How does blind shipping work for ecommerce orders?
For ecommerce orders, blind shipping is used when orders are delivered from the manufacturer directly to the customer. Here’s how the blind shipping process works:
1. The supplier replaces their name from the BOL with your company’s name.
2. The BOL is given to the consignee with the supplier information concealed.
3. The BOL is then given to the carrier and is shipped directly to your customer.
Outsource shipping and fulfillment to ShipBob
Although dropshipping blind has its advantages, it offers fewer fulfillment services and shipping options than working with a 3PL. ShipBob is a tech-enabled 3PL that provides retail fulfillment services including warehousing, inventory management, picking and packing, and shipping orders.
“When we first got started, we were dropshipping. It was nice because we had no money tied up in inventory, but we also had no quality control. With no control over the customer experience and very poor shipping times, we quickly realized dropshipping was not a long-term solution. It was good for proving out an early concept, but we had to move to a professional fulfillment company. ShipBob has fulfilled over 10,000 shipments per month for us.”
Gerard Ecker, Founder & CEO of Ocean & Co.
While manufacturers specialize in creating products using raw materials, 3PLs focus on supporting and scaling your business. Not only does a 3PL take care of all fulfillment-related tasks, storing inventory with a 3PL that operates international fulfillment locations can significantly reduce shipping costs and last-mile delivery times.
Is blind shipping right for you?
As an ecommerce business, the only time you would consider blind shipping is if you were dropshipping orders. Although some ecommerce businesses find success in dropshipping, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a much different logistics model than working with a 3PL. Unlike dropshipping, outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL can help better optimize your supply chain, gain more control, and provide a better customer experience.
Learn more about how fulfillment by ShipBob works and request pricing by clicking the button below.
Blind shipping FAQs
Blind shipping is less complicated than you might think. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions related to blind shipping.
1. What is blind shipping?
Blind shipping is when an ecommerce business removes the name of their supplier from the BOL before a customer order is shipped directly to the customer. It is a common dropshipping best practice that helps keep customers ordering directly from an ecommerce business, rather than ordering directly from a brand’s supplier.
2. What is a BOL?
A bill of lading (BOL) is the invoice that’s included with a shipment. It often lists details about the goods being exchanged, as well as supplier and importer information. When an order is shipped blind, supplier information is removed before it reaches its final destination.
3. What is a double-blind shipment?
A double-blind shipment is when the supplier does not know where the product is being delivered to, and the customer does not know where the shipment came from. In a typical blind shipment, the supplier sees the customer’s contact information.
4. What is blind dropshipping?
Blind shipping is used in the context of dropshipping. Since the dropshipping model consists of shipping orders directly to the customer from the supplier, a blind shipment removes the supplier’s information before an order is shipped so the customer assumes it was sent directly from the retailer.