Parallel Importing to Australia
Parallel imports, also known as ‘grey imports’ are a great way to secure low cost branded products, outside of traditional sales channels.
But there are a few risks to be conscious of, we advise out customers to tread very carefully with parallel importation:
- Always get samples
- Always verify your suppliers with a company and factory/warehouse inspection
- Get quality inspection testing prior to shipment
- Steer clear of products that require aftermarket support
- Steer clear of products that have mandatory standards
Of course, if in doubt, contact an appropriately qualified lawyer.
Risks of Parallel Importing to Australia
As Targets get hauled into court this week for selling fake MAC branded cosmetics, the issue has again been raised about parallel importing and whether it is beneficial or harmful to Australian consumers. The fact is consumers in Australia are regularly overcharged in comparison to some other markets when buying branded equipment, clothing, consumer goods and technologies.
In our experience, when we have been asked to verify a supplier in China of internationally known brands, the products have in every case turned out to be fake. The supplier stops answering emails and phone calls when the tough questions are asked.
Popular Products for Parallel Importing
There are plenty of businesses that parallel import to Australia from Malaysia, Singapore, India and other markets where some branded products are sold cheaper there, particularly sportswear, sports products and some designer label clothing. In these cases the prices are significantly cheaper in those countries than on Australian retail shelves.
Issues with Parallel Importing
However, often the import business in Australia has no way of telling if the product is genuine, and it has been reported that some suppliers overseas combine genuine products with counterfeit. Of course if there are counterfeit goods, the importer is then in very real danger of having the good seized by customs or even destroyed.
Buyers of parallel imported products will run into problems, when they need spare parts and warranties, the OEM manufacturer will raise an eyebrow and crack down when disproportionate number of parts are required compared to the genuine units of that product sold. The risk here for importers is that you can face a lawsuit that you have a very real chance of winning if all things are equal, but a small business has no chance of matching the heavy costs of a drawn out lawsuit from a deep pocketed multinational firm.
Australian Government policy was developed to allow parallel importation, so brands could not get away with huge price discrepancies between markets, and therefore consumers could enjoy prices comparable with overseas markets.
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