Most companies do not regard their supply base as intellectual property but they do so at their peril. Protecting your intellectual property is essential in this day and age as it provides a company or individual with a competitive advantage over other players in the industry. Exposing your supply base to your customers can have dramatic consequences – the worst of which is the danger of your customer going directly to your supplier.
Australian retailers are well placed to deal directly with offshore manufacturers and indeed most of them have some direct supply in their product offerings. If you are currently supplying the larger retail chains with product you source from overseas you will have noticed an increased pressure to provide that product on an FOB basis rather than the traditional free into store approach. One of the dangers of agreeing to provide product on an FOB basis is the potential exposure of your supplier information to your customer – who could then quite realistically become your competitor.
Normally, when shipping goods from, say, China to Australia a bill of lading is cut with the consignor and consignee details listed on the bill. In normal circumstances the consignor would be the offshore manufacturer and the consignee would be the name of the entity that is to take delivery of the product. In the above FOB scenario the consignor would be your supplier and the consignee would be your customer. So it is easy to see that in this case your supply base is exposed. However, Magellan Logistics can help you with protecting your supplier information by manipulating the documentation to provide you with comfort that your valuable IP is being hidden.
The export documentation will be produced as normal and used for clearing the goods through the offshore Customs authority. However, once export formalities have been completed Magellan Logistics will raise a separate house bill of lading to indicate that you are the consignor and your customer is the consignee. Further, the invoice accompanying the shipment will be the FOB invoice raised by you on your customer. This documentation will be used to clear the goods through Customs in Australia. In this way, your supplier information is hidden from your customer and should go some way towards providing you with peace of mind.
As this is an extremely commercially sensitive area of concern we suggest that a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should be developed to ensure that all stake holders are fully aware of their obligations at each step of the way.
AS ALWAYS – MAGELLAN LOGISTICS IS HERE TO HELP