The world of shipping is constantly evolving. There are numerous ways to ship anything and there are many options when doing so. One of those options is blind shipping. So, what is blind shipping, exactly? Well, it is a method of shipping which conceals information, basically. You ship blind when you do not want the buyer to know who is sending the shipment. Or perhaps you want to hide the name of the buyer. In any case, while it might not help you pass Riyadh customs clearance, which is a separate issue, it is a handy tool in the world of shipping. We will get into specifics and details of what is blind shipping straight away!
What is blind shipping exactly – The Breakdown
While blind shipping might sound easy to understand, it does have some of its own quirks and comes with both benefits and drawbacks. It is not the be-all-end-all solution to shipping. We will start with the basic definition and move up from there.
A basic definition of blind shipping
Simple, yet efficient, answer to what is blind shipping is:
When either the shipper does not know who is the buyer or when the buyer does not know who is the shipper.
And that is that the vast majority of blind shipments will fall into one of these two categories. Not knowing the buyer or not knowing the shipper. The name comes from the fact that either the buyer or the shipper is effectively “blind” in the transaction, as they do not know who they are dealing with.
Reason for blind shipping
As you may have figured out already, the ability to hide information in a business transaction, such as shipping, is highly valuable. While it is important to have a clean slate, as any of the logistics companies in Dammam might tell you, sometimes it is really important to hide select information. The people who have the most use of blind shipping are middlemen, those who do not want for their clients to deal without them.
Here’s an example. Let us say that we have a client in the U.S. to whom we need to ship silken dresses. What we can do is find a silk dress manufacturer, have them produce as many dresses as our client needs and then ship it to them. Obviously, at a profit. There, simple as that, done deal! However, what might happen (and usually will) is that the client notices the name of the manufacturer on the Bill of Lading and decides to do future business with them, instead of us. And we have ourselves a problem. If we have used the blind shipping method, we would easily avoid this specific problem.
By hiding the information about the manufacturer, we have protected ourselves.
Of course, it is not really as simple as that. There are specific procedures that you need to follow in order to properly make blind shipments work. They mostly revolve around the Bill of Lading.
Bill of Lading and Blind shipments
First of all, blind shipments usually require more than one BoL(Bill of Lading). Only having one BoL is sometimes overwhelming, so have that in mind when wanting to ship blind. However, usually, two will be quite enough. One for the shipper and one for the buyer. The difference in these BoL’s is in which party happens to be “in the blind”. Do have in mind that the BoL still needs to pass customs inspection and that hiring a customs broker might be necessary, as well.
Let’s say that the shipper is the “blind one”. In this case, you will be making a “dummy” BoL, which will go to the shipper. The second BoL, the actual one, will contain all the information. And it is the same thing if it is reversed. If the buyer is “in the blind” then he gets the dummy BoL. Everything quite simple, so far.
However, where it gets slightly complicated is when it gets to the carriers.
Obviously, the carrier will have the proper information, they just have to! What they do is switch the BoL’s in transit, if needed, and make sure that the shipment arrives at the right address. Now, most of these carriers will only require a simple notification about the blind shipment. However, some will have additional procedures and require more paperwork, and this is where it can get a tad complicated. The best thing to do is to hire professional transport services because then they can finish most of the paperwork for you.
Now, you might be asking yourself “Is this legal?”. And yes, it is. What matters is that whoever ordered a shipment got what he wanted and paid for and that whoever sent the shipment got paid for what he sent.
An Example of Blind Shipping
To better illustrate the whole process, we will provide you with an example of what goes on when you decide to ship blind.
Let us say that we have John, who has a business in City A. He wants to ship something to another business in City B.
What he does is he orders from a wholesaler in City A and resells it to City B, at a higher price. Here we come to the blind shipping part. In order to avoid unnecessary costs, John has the wholesaler ship everything to City B and makes the shipment blind. The customer will think that John sent the shipment and John is safe.
The freight broker is the one that sets up the BoL’s. Two are generated at this time, the real one and a dummy one. John gets both of them and gives the real one to the wholesaler, who then proceeds to ship. The second (Blind) one goes to the carrier, which will be used for delivery. The customer receives the blind one and Bob’s your uncle.
Of course, there might be some post-shipment documentation, and you might need to care of that as well, but the premise is quite simple. Nothing illegal is going on.