What Is Blind Shipping? Keeping Your Business on the Safe Side

Jul 2020
Nikolay Pasholok
Product Owner, Calcurates
Since every standard dropshipping delivery includes the supplier’s contact information in one way or another, it doesn’t take much for the recipient to track it down and contact it in search of better prices. This can be even more harmful when your competitor makes the order to gain a trustworthy supplier for itself. To avoid such situations, many use blind shipping. 

In blind shipping, the end customer receives a package with only the store contacts, and all other information is hidden. A good example is Amazon, which uses its warehouse contact information on the order info instead of the original seller’s. Not every entrepreneur can fulfill a blind shipment on their own, as it can be a complex operation with many moving parts. Let’s investigate how exactly you can make your business less vulnerable and prevent losing clients to foul play.

Using Blind Shipping

As a rule, all the supplier’s details are listed in the document called the Bill of Lading (BOL). It serves as proof of receiving the load into transit and unloading it at the destination. It is also used for insurance purposes and proof of ownership. Moreover, the BOL is a loading receipt (“lading” is an archaic form of “loading”), which lists all the items that are being transported, their quantity, origin, and destination.

Since in dropshipping, websites serve only as a storefront, and all the physical handling is done on the supplier’s side, you need a third party, usually a freight-forwarding company, to make the shipment blind. The said company exchanges the Bill of Lading with one of its own, which contains only the store’s contact details or is left blank.
Hiring a freight-forwarding company adds extra costs to your shipping, so weigh all the expenses against leaving your shipments unprotected from prying eyes.
Blind shipment is available even to smaller stores, but the fees for such services may outweigh the risks of leaving the contact information in the open for some of the business owners.

Benefits of Blind Shipping

The blind shipment method has clear advantages:

Client Retention

By anonymizing your suppliers, you deprive your clients of the opportunity to deal with them directly.

Brand Consistency

Blind shipping allows you to have a unified customer experience across all items and suppliers. Each order will come with the same contact information and documentation.

Higher Margin

When you’re positioning yourself as a unified brand rather than a marketplace, you can increase your markup.

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Blind Shipping and Dropshipping

Traditional dropshipping suggests a transparent system that implies that the store operates as a curated marketplace for goods owned by other sellers (manufacturers, importers). Since it is usually impossible to uniquely brand the items or customize them, store owners do not bother with hiding the fact that they use the dropshipping model. That, however, opens up vulnerabilities that may lead to client loss. The supplier’s contacts can be used both by the client who seeks better prices and the competitor who can gain a valuable partner through your store without doing the legwork.

The main downsides of blind shipping are higher shipping costs and the addition of another link in the delivery chain, which adds increased risk for a shipping error and consequential losses. Adding a freight-forwarding company requires entrusting it with both the safety of the sold items and the task of hiding your supplier. If an error occurs and your client discovers the order’s true origin, it may lead to harmful exposure on the internet and damage to your sales, so you should always choose your freight-forwarding partner very carefully. 

Dropshipping has one key advantage, though: the absence of any volume requirements. In most cases, you can work with suppliers, even if the client only needs one piece of the product. Blind shipping becomes unreasonably expensive when you only need to deliver a single item due to a minimal cost of handling the blind BOL (Bill of Lading).

Both basic dropshipping and blind dropshipping models require considerable investments into client services and marketing to be successful, so the increase in price is more than justifiable.

Double-Blind Shipment

You may want to use double-blind shipping and hide the final destination from the supplier. Double-blind shipping is more expensive, as it requires more work from the freight-forwarding company, which has to create additional paperwork on both ends of delivery. 

How You Can Make Your Shipment Blind

To start doing blind shipping, you need to partner with a freight-forwarding company. You should choose it carefully because a lot will be riding on the speed and the quality of their services. Major carriers usually don't offer blind shipping, but FedEx is one company with that option. However, we recommend you to ask your manager about it , there's no such service on their website.

Then, you sign an agreement that gives FedEx (or any other freight-forwarding company you're working with) a power of attorney over the shipment. Unfortunately, FedEx does not allow for any automation of the filling out process, so it has to be manually filled out for every delivery. Smaller private companies can handle the paperwork for each order themselves, but that requires giving them additional power of attorney to legally fill out such documents.

When it's done, you can limit the shipping options on the items you want to be delivered as blind shipments to FedEx freight, and the carrier will handle the rest. You can use the Calcurates shipping extension for Magento to create custom shipping scenarios for specific items and categories.

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