Importing and Shipping Problems
Working with imported products for resale in the Australian market has been popular since the 1950s. At this time, Australian companies used technological advancement by overseas companies to sell a cheaper product than was available in Australia.
Manufacturing in Australia and investment in Australian manufacturing have declined since the 1970s, with many successful businesses enjoying the fruits of overseas labour – resulting in cheaper products.
Current Status of Importers
- Importers have a lot of customers but little stock, causing manufacturing delays for the caravan, camper and trailer industry.
- Stock is frequently tied up in overseas ports due to a lack of ships.
- As of 12th May 2022, the Port of Shanghai is in a COVID-19 lockdown and will remain for another 30 days.
- Factories have limited workers indefinitely due to government-enforced COVID-19 lockdowns.
- Australian importing businesses continue to take orders for when stocks arrive.
- Caravan and Trailer OEM workforces are laid off due to stock shortages.
- The high shipping cost and logistics delays have taken a fluctuating exchange rate out of the debate.
- The hidden costs are now in product testing. Product testing is rarely undertaken overseas, and fake safety certificates and ISO9001 reports are often provided. We have long been aware of product quality lacking when importing, with a prime example being rusty products found in the bottom of the crate when the stock does arrive.
- Overseas minimum order quantities are usually a minimum of 1,000 units of product, costing upwards of US$25,000 per order. Most products can be stored for up to 12 months. Australian-made product is ordered with a storage allocation of only 60 days. Storage of vastly reduced numbers provides more cash flow to business owners. Using the example above, $25k / 12 months = US$2,500 per month. Purchasing for 60 days means we only spend US5k saving US$20,000.
- The above cash flow bonus is a hidden reason why small business owners should invest in local production.
- To compete with overseas importers, Australia must match overseas production on a technologically equal footing. If we can do this and win market share, we will gain international respect, and the AU$ will rise as a result.
Couplemate Joins the Australian-Made Campaign
A simple idea can easily turn into a great product or a successful business direction. In addition, this was Couplemate sentiment towards the Australian Made Campaign when joining in 2016.
Our Company commenced an import replacement program, as we believed there was a future for Australian-made trailer parts. We aimed to support local economies and the local supply chain.
Unfortunately, during the first few years of our campaign, our Australian-made products received a mediocre response from the market, despite the team’s vigorous attempts to lift uptake in our new Australian-made range.
During the second half of the 20th century, Australian manufacturers began scaling down domestic production and importing goods from international suppliers.
We witnessed local tooling of trailer parts discarded as Australian manufacturers began to rely on imported products.
The investment required to manufacture a single product can be upwards of $100,000, which is why many wholesale buyers looked for an overseas solution.
Couplemate™ has more than 50 Australian-made products, all presented to the Australian market by our desire to re-introduce Australian Made products to our industry.
Then the Moment in Time Happened – COVID-19
By June 2020, COVID-19 was a serious part of our community in Australia. However, despite this concerning virus, momentum was building for Australian-made products, as public demand to buy Australian caravans and camper trailers skyrocketed.
Our Australian Made campaign was now receiving significant traction. Sales of our Australian-made range began to climb with the demand for locally supplied and manufactured goods increasing.
Our founders wanted to see for themselves how COVID-19 was impacting our regional communities. Travelling throughout the regional and coastal towns of Queensland. It was encouraging to witness hard-working Australian families providing essential services to travellers and see local communities bustling.
Made in Australia
The internationally recognised green and gold Australian Made Campaign Limited logo was integrated into Couplemate™’s promotional material across all Australian-made products. This impact was immediate, as our customers recognised the significance of the well-known logo.
“The famous Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo is the true mark of Aussie authenticity. It’s Australia’s most trusted, recognised and widely known country of origin symbol, and is underpinned by a third-party accreditation system, which ensures products that carry the Australian Made logo are certified as ‘genuinely Australian’.”
Furthermore, involvement in the Australian Made campaign also provides an immense sense of pride and job satisfaction to all our employees. Representing the support of Australian families and businesses and the positive impact creating local jobs has on our economy.
The opportunity to increase the workforce of others through our purchasing support flows through to our procurement policies. Preferred supplier status is a grant to companies supporting the Australian Made campaign within our industry.
Looking to the Future
A question was brought to the owner by senior management. “Will Australian buyers return to their normal purchasing habits once Covid-19 is over and international travel resumes”?
Concern was apparent that demand for Australian-made products and, thus, the Australian-Made Campaign may decline again.
History tells us everything has a habit of returning to its natural state. Competition demands prices will work their way down to the point of equilibrium.
Furthermore, we remain optimistic that local working relationships established over the past 18 months will survive. Also, even with the downward spiral of Australian manufacturers reverting to imported overseas products.
It can easily be seen that if Australian companies continue on the importing path, sooner or later, the logistics chain will break, and business will suffer.
Our past investments will continue to produce quality, locally manufactured products. , with further investment in technology, machinery and upskilling. Our people will help incentivise buyers to continue purchasing locally manufactured products.
The answer to management’s question can be ambiguous or perhaps philosophical. Contemplating the potential that we may see demand for Australian-made products decrease at some future time.
In conclusion, Couplemate’s path, as best we can, will remain steadfast. Continuing to diversify the range of Australian-made products we manufacture offers extended product development opportunities. For instance, support for local jobs and the Australian economy.
The Couplemate™ Brand
Ultimately, Couplemate™ intends to remain leading the manufacturing industry in the caravanning, boating and recreational trailer industry. We strive toward finding new opportunities and bringing to market the brilliance of Australian innovation from our team of experts.
Finally, if you wish to check out our range of Australian products, they can be found in our online shop in the Australian Made category.