Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, once said that “a big business starts small”. In 1970, Branson opened a mail order record business which eventually became Virgin Records. Many companies have followed suit and the Virgin Group now controls over 400 different companies.
What Branson did not have at its disposal in the 1970s was the e-commerce ecosystem that existed in 2021. This ecosystem allows almost any business – regardless of size – to reach a global customer base. , almost instantly.
âWhether you’re a family business or an established brand, a good deal of your site traffic, if you can see where it’s coming from, is actually coming from outside your home market, outside of the United States though. you’re an American brand, and it could be as high as 30.40%, âRob Keve, CEO and co-founder of Flow E-Commerce, told Modern Shipper. “And the reasons are obvious – online recognizes no borders.”
But for many potential customers, the shopping experience is as important as the product. If a product displays prices in a foreign currency, if the checkout page does not accurately reflect the costs associated with rates and local taxes, or if it does not represent the true shipping time, a customer is often lost. , probably forever.
âWe need the whole experience to be as good internationally as it is nationally,â Keve said. âAnd it’s not easy because now you have to worry about how we make sure our prices are in the local currency. If you cross any borders, it will or may result in duty and sales tax. You, as a brand, may not know what this means for different countries for your entire catalog. “
Flow E-Commerce offers cross-border shopping technology for brands, helping them meet local purchasing requirements, including customs and duty charges and payments, and manages the global shipping process to 200 countries . Its API platform is optimized for large and small brands, allowing small sellers to grow with the platform to become a large company.
âOur approach is unique in two ways,â said Keve. âFirst, we built our own internal solution to deal with this. It leverages machine learning to analyze what products are being sold, then calculates all the different shipping destinations, 200 of them, and what the correct duties and taxes would be for that product in each of those countries. So when we receive a consumer from any country, be it a large one like France or a smaller one like in the Caribbean, we already know what the duties and taxes are, and they will be displayed on the site, not just at the checkout but on the product pages. And then we do real-time calculations, which in many countries there are minimum thresholds [above] you don’t have to pay tax.
The Flow platform also leverages real-time inventory, ensuring that a displayed product is in stock.
When it comes to getting the item sold to the end consumer, the Flow logistics machine takes it up a notch. The company offers shipping through most of the world’s major logistics providers, but Keve said the company remains neutral in recommending the right shipping partner.
âWe uniquely see ourselves as independent of all carriers, so we take a non-partisan approach to determining which is the best partner for each merchant,â he said. “And we’re pre-integrated into all of the major ones, so we can route their traffic and handle the labeling and relationship with the carriers on their behalf.”
All international transaction data is collected and displayed on a dashboard or fed into brand systems, allowing for transparency and analytical reporting. This includes duties, taxes, and shipping tracking details. Most importantly, Flow E-Commerce handles all foreign tax collections and payments, relieving the brand of this responsibility.
âPart of the value that we provide is that we can help you increase your international sales quite dramatically, but we can also tackle many of the challenges you face internationally and handle all of those tax remittances on behalf of the consumer of your order, âKeve said.
Click for more articles on Modern Shipper by Brian Straight.
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