Eyeing the World: How Citizens of Humanity Leverages Cross-Border E-comm to Boost Global Sales

In a WWD-produced webinar, Rob Keve, cofounder of Flow Commerce, and Mario Borroi, chief operating officer of International at Citizens of Humanity, joined WWD executive editor Arthur Zaczkiewicz in discussing the booming opportunity for cross-border e-commerce, attracting and converting international consumers, online, and how Citizens of Humanity has executed its growth amid the pandemic with Flow Commerce.

Flow Commerce is a turnkey and modular solution that emphasizes flexibility, scalability and control. Keve told the audience, the company was founded with the intent to enable global brands and consumers to overcome challenges with foreign transactions including presenting local currencies, taxes, slow and expensive shipping, and available payment methods. “Flow created itself in the image of making this simple,” Keve said. “What if you could, very simply, manage the experience for the consumer wherever they came from in the world.”

In addition to equipping brands with tools that help with localization, landed cost, logistics and checkout payments, Flow also serves its brands with conversion optimization and product syndication. Put simply, Keve said Flow’s tools “enable [brands] to advertise across Google and Facebook portfolios so that they can syndicate product feeds and drive traffic to their site and empower brands to enable them to convert the traffic from overseas into raving fans just like they have domestically.”

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Notably, Keve referenced the cross-borders e-commerce 2020 market outlook by Kaleido Intelligence, which forecasts by 2025 cross-border transaction value will be more than $1.6 trillion — a great motivation for brands questioning if they should invest in a global digital presence.

Rob Keve Courtesy Image.

One brand that has embraced Flow’s technology is Los Angeles-based, denim company Citizens of Humanity LLC. According to Borroi, being a global brand was always a large part of the company’s overall strategy and has invested in building a global presence. Both Citizens of Humanity and Agolde serve a global market with wholesale and e-commerce partners and with that the “opportunity to fully communicate the brand message and product range to global customers and grow brand awareness and business using Flow.

A key advantage of embracing direct-to-consumer commerce for Citizens of Humanity, said Borroi, was providing direct access to the full product collection which had previously been limited. And at the same time, the move addressed and serviced the influx of new international consumers to both brand websites, which leadership was able to control and position correctly across all different regions.

In fact, according to the e-commerce traffic analysis of more than 300 top online retailers from January through December 2020, conducted by SimilarWeb, the percent of international traffic to e-commerce sites is significant with 60 percent of traffic being domestic and 40 percent of traffic being international.

“I think we often underestimate how large the market is for purchasing cross border,” Keve said. “This is not a marginal market; it’s not an extra couple of points on your top line. This has the potential to transform your growth because of it not only being a large market today, but actually fast-growing.”

Mario Borroi Courtesy Image.

Moreover, Keve said while brands can strategically and intentionally try to create a global brand, today’s market and especially social media, has built a global following. “Whether you intended it or not, your followers are all over the world,” Keve said. “They’re desperate to get ahold of the product and ideally, they’ll get it directly from a brand’s site.”

Still, Borroi said, the opportunity to go global for every company is different and comes at a different time. “For us it was immediate, for others they could have another reason,” he said. “To do it means you can manage the consumer and walk them through the shopping experience globally, or at least in some geographies.”

Five signs that a brand is ready to go global were laid out by Keve as high international traffic with low conversion rates, strong international demand for your product, need to diversify market presence and reduce dependence on domestic sales, capitalizing on consumer awareness from other channels, and pre-empting competition in other overseas markets.

Working with Flow, Citizens of Humanity met its target for international sales growth set for six months after just three and a half months and experienced 11 times its initial direct-to-consumer international interactions with even development across geographies.

For More WWD Business News: 

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