Fresh from the news that our co-founders were named “Entrepreneurs of the Year” in our home state of New Jersey, Flow’s international e-commerce experts headed to The Lead Innovation Summit in Brooklyn, NY on July 9-10. The Lead Innovation Summit is an event where the fashion and retail innovation communities get together to talk about what comes next for the industry.
The Lead’s flagship event was highly-attended: more than 1,000 retail executives, technologists, investors, analysts and media visited the sessions and expo over two days. Flow had a booth in the Innovation Village, and had the opportunity to meet with many brands, both up-and-coming and established. Some of the highlights in the program for us included sessions focused on digital native brands, the impact of technology on retail, the challenges of a global supply chain, and the future of luxury retail. Several CEOs took the stage to present their visions, from compelling technology vendors to unique, direct-to-consumer brands that are solving some of the industry’s greatest challenges.
Flow CEO Rob Keve gave a presentation on how cross-border e-commerce merchants are addressing some of their most pressing challenges with Flow’s modular solution. Rob related his own personal experience (before he founded Flow) of trying to purchase a Slip ‘N’ Slide for his kids from a German website. As Rob recalled, there was an unpleasant surprise lurking at nearly every touchpoint along the way as he tried to buy the item for his children. He struggled to determine the exact price of the product in USD, was unable to use the payment method he preferred, and finally, when the item arrived on his doorstep, he was informed that he owed a significant amount in duties and taxes that he wasn’t expecting. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common experience for many cross-border e-commerce shoppers.
This experience stayed with Rob as he and Mike Bryzek founded Flow. Their vision with Flow is to enable an environment in which cross-border retailers can quickly and easily create the same convenient, positive e-commerce experience for customers in any global market as they have in their domestic market. That includes clear product pricing in the local currency, transparent and easily understandable duties and taxes, a wide array of payment preferences, various reliable delivery options and when needed, easy returns.
A key strategy for helping cross-border retailers improve conversion is to meet global consumers where they are in their buyer journey, and meet their expectations. We at Flow were pleased to hear many other retail and tech experts talk about this, as it validates our approach. The sentiment was echoed by several other experts at The Lead, including Olivia Benjamin of Bain Capital Ventures, one of Flow’s investors. We believe the first step in meeting customers where they are is to provide a customized e-commerce experience in each market that meets local shoppers’ needs and preferences.
As more digital-first brands and retailers take on the challenge of expanding into global markets, working with technology partners to help them reach these new markets will become even more vital. We were encouraged to hear from many technology providers that are setting their sights on supporting the international efforts of online brands. One example is Happy Returns, a startup funded by PayPal that manages the returns process for retailers that don’t have physical stores. From our view, aiming this kind of innovative technology at international e-commerce is a no-brainer — especially since 67% of consumers in the top 11 global markets have already made a cross-border purchase, according to our recent research. The opportunity for retail technology providers in the global arena is only going to grow in the years to come.
Today’s cross-border e-commerce merchants need solutions that enable a turn-key way to manage all aspects of the international customer experience. Rob’s Slip ‘N’ Slide story illustrates the many challenges shoppers face when purchasing cross-border, and the pitfalls retailers need to overcome each time they enter a new global market. Solving these points of friction will require greater innovation and partnerships amongst technology providers to support retailers. That’s one major benefit of attending conferences such as The Lead Innovation Summit. It’s an opportunity for our experts to make new contacts, share challenges and success stories, and work together to find ways to support brands and retailers in their next phase of e-commerce development.
If your digital brand is looking to start its global journey, get in touch today with a Flow expert.