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EPISODE 42

The Crucial Need for Cross-Border Solutions

With Matthew Merrilees, CEO, North America, Global-e

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Why don’t more companies offer affordable international shipping? The answer is because navigating the world of VAT, customs, international duties, and other intricacies make this too much of a headache for most eCommerce operators. Additionally, technical components, payment options, logistics and, yes, varying holiday calendars are all variables that a company needs to consider when it is expanding globally. It’s nearly impossible to do without some sort of help.  So the question becomes how do you face this nightmare ready and prepared?

That’s where Matthew Merrilees comes in.

Matthew is the CEO, North America for Global-e, and they solve these problems. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Matthew shares the ins and outs of what it takes to equip your ecommerce brand for international expansion. 

Whether you need to address currency concerns or want to understand the data that drives your competitors to success in the market, Matthew shares those secrets and more on today’s episode.

Main Takeaways:

  • Is It a Holiday? — When brands expand internationally, it’s important to know and plan for holidays that affect customers in every single market. There are opportunities being missed by companies who are too focused on the big international holidays and not enough on local strategy. 
  • Pay With Ease — Customers want transactions to be simple. Anything that makes a transaction hard, or confusing, will almost certainly result in an abandoned purchase. Implementing an integrated, hyper-localized payment and taxation strategy is one of the first things companies need to consider when expanding internationally.
  • Plan B — Companies and individuals are currently experiencing many unexpected disruptions in life and business. Being able to navigate through those disruptions is necessary in order to continue providing the best possible customer experience. Creating contingency plans and backup systems to deploy if there is a disruption in your logistics or backend operations will take you a long way.

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“Something that is always eye-opening is how we’re able to help take an international transaction and truly localize it to a way that a consumer in that individual market would expect to buy online.”

“[International sales success] begins with communication. How are you going to touch that consumer? How are you going to touch that consumer in a way that relates locally to them? And then obviously you have to make sure that you have all the tools in place to execute on that sale…. 

“A lot of brands come to us and say, ‘Hey, we view you as our international outsource Ecommerce team because we need to understand not only that I need to equip my US site to be able to speak to a consumer in China versus Singapore, versus Thailand and Canada and Australia and so on but, I also need to know what’s the right proposition. How do I take insights and data and duty and tax? And what do I do with all of these different elements that are barriers to that customer buying? And how do we break it down so it’s local to that consumer and market?’ …that’s where Global-e comes into play.”

“One of the biggest insights a lot of brands come to us for is, ‘we want to understand what the rest of our verticals [are] doing. How are they being successful? What are they doing to target consumers?’…We sit on mountains of data that we can then drive from an insight’s perspective to the brand to say, ‘Hey, based off of where you’re selling today and based off of where you should be selling tomorrow, we’re going to help you build a strategy on an end-to-end perspective.’”

“The beauty of what Global-e does with our brands is literally with a single integration, whether it be the currency, the hundred-plus currencies that we enable. Or whether it be the 150 different payment methods that we offer, the duty and tax guarantee for limiting risk and liability to our brands, all of that pulled together in single integration, opens them up to the world.”

“We have hyper-localized every element of that overall checkout. Which means if they’re going to put in all of the effort from a marketing perspective to get that consumer to a point of checkout, we are going to make sure that they are going to buy.” 

“From an education perspective, we see a lot of brands adopting different cross-border publications, different cross-border strategies through a lot of the conferences that have now become digital. In the past, these trade shows and all these things required a lot of time, a lot of dedication, a lot of effort, a lot of money to be able to access. And now as these all go virtual, you’re starting to see a lot more adoption into these channels, which are a lot easier to access.”

Mentions:

Bio:

Matthew Merrilees leads Global-e’s growing North American-based team and has extensive experience in the cross-border world. He previously served as the Global Managing Director of Sales at FedEx Cross Border, and prior to that, Matt worked at DHL Express US for 10 years. During his time at DHL he held many roles, from field sales to leading DHL’s National Account Segment in the Northeast US. Matt holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Fairfield University with a focus in Business Management.

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Welcome back to another episode of Up Next in Commerce. I’m your host, Stephanie Postles, co-founder of Mission.org. And today on the show, we have Matthew Merrilees, the CEO of North America at Global-e. Matthew, Welcome.

Matthew:

Hey, pleasure to be here Stephanie. Thanks so much for having me.

Stephanie:

So, I want to dive in a bit into your background. It looks like you’ve worked at a lot of different logistics companies. Before we touch on Global-e, I was hoping we could go over your background a bit and how you got to where you are.

Matthew:

Yeah, for sure. It gets a bit about me, and my background, definitely started, I would say from call it my family history, just the family history of fathers and brothers. And call it family members who grew up in operations logistics, and obviously [inaudible] Ecommerce. So, I think as I followed the family tree and fell into place, I think all in all it definitely did kick off and start my career at DHL Express, where I spent quite a number of years in various different positions, leadership roles, and such. And then made the transition to FedEx where I definitely did a lot of the same. And obviously, now here at Global-e. I think when you look at the background, straight from university into the logistics arena, was quite exciting.

Stephanie:

Yep. Very cool. So tell me a little bit about Global-e. What is the company? And what kind of customers do you guys have? And how do you interact with them?

Matthew:

Yeah, for sure. What we are is a cross border enablement platform, right? We focus primarily in three different arenas that support our brands, which is in boosting international conversion rates, which is boosting overall sales and revenue of course. And then most importantly, boosting customer satisfaction for an international transaction. Right? So I think when you look at the vast portfolio of brands that we work with from a global perspective… I mean, we worked with over 350 enterprise global brands, right?

Matthew:

So when you look at some of the likes of, let’s just call it Forever 21, Reformation and Anastasia Beverly Hills, Marc Jacobs, Hugo boss, Versace. But, I think when you look at the broad gamut of brands, I mean it is something that is, for me, always eye opening. Just how we’re able to help take an international transaction and really, truly localize it to a way that consumer in that individual market would really expect to buy online. And I think there’s a lot of barriers when you look at the international market and how we help these brands really position that data, that knowledge, that insight, and that expertise is really I’d say where we come in and help.

Stephanie:

Cool. And what stage does a company need to be at to partner with Global-e? Do they need to be as big as Forever 21, or could a new DTC company also utilize your great services?

Matthew:

Really it’s any size, shape or brand. I would say just over I think seven years ago now we deployed the business, right? And I think we came out of the gate with a very strong enterprise focus. But, I think as we evolved we saw the demand in market for small medium enterprise type brands. Really it’s any size, shape or brand who has let’s just call it an Ecommerce platform running an online digital storefront. And it is someone that obviously has an Ecommerce strategy in place today. So it’s not just the Bigs that I think you see in the market that we continue to focus on and then come into the portfolio. I think it’s also those brands that are digitally native, that are really looking to capture revenue outside of their home market. So I think it’s really any size, shape or size customer that could lead to that discussion.

Stephanie:

Cool. I was hoping we could kind of start the episode there around what are maybe some international fails you see happening with brands right now, or hiccups that maybe new companies would encounter if they don’t use a solution that figures out all the different challenges when selling across borders.

Matthew:

Yeah, for sure. I think sales are important. Obviously, I think brands all have different approaches to sale, right? There are some heavy sale brands by design. There are some flash sale businesses out there that really drive high, heavy traffic to a limited amount of inventory. And then I think there’s your typical sale holidays where everyone’s on sale, which is typically your Black Friday type periods that we recognize here in the North American market. But, I think as brands start to think internationally and think what sales exists outside of just this US home market. For us, we start to really get into the education process, which is number one; what are the holidays that are happening outside of the USA? Is it Singles Day? Is it Boxing Day? Is it Click Frenzy in Australia, for example? Which I think is the beginning part for a lot of the brands that we tend to work with.

Matthew:

I’d say number one, what are the holidays? What and where do these holidays exist? And then number two, how do you get prepared in order to approach that consumer? Is it a similar approach that we have to a domestic customer here in the US? They’re going to need to be spoken to and treated in a unique way that more relates to them in that market. So I think sales are critically important. But, I think with branding awareness of when they’re happening, why they’re happening, and how to really give that consumer, let’s just say the customer satisfaction experience that they would expect, is important.

Stephanie:

Yep. Are there any holidays that come to mind that you’ve seen a bunch of brands missing? Because I’ve heard of a couple of them like Singles Day. I think especially more recently, we started hearing about these other sales that go on around the world. But, is there any big opportunities or a time when you say, “Hey, there’s a sale happening.” And a lot of brands are like, “Oh, I’ve never heard of that.” Or, “That’s never come across my radar before.” But, it’s like a big important one?

Matthew:

Honestly, the three I listed, and the reason for listing them is because they are the most important, that typically I would say a lot of brands are just not aware of. And believe it or not, don’t have strategies planned around. They used to be sales, and I think that specifically the two in both Boxing Day, and I’d say most importantly, Click Frenzy, is probably the one that is most highly missed out of the portfolio of brands. Just saying, “Wow! Click Frenzy, I didn’t realize how large it was.” And it’s something that we absolutely want to help tailor to our market, which is such a key focus market for a lot of US brands in Australia.

Stephanie:

Got it. So what kind of strategies are you maybe suggesting to them? Maybe we’ll focus on those two. How would you walk a brand through these holidays and maybe how to approach it to get into that market?

Matthew:

I think it all begins with the communication. So number one, we talked about the education, the awareness, which is obviously going to be key. And then I think with the brand. Every brand, as I mentioned earlier, the approach sale differently. So I think when you look at whether it be a flash sale business, whether it be a traditionally just natively sale business, who’s very highly discounted down to high luxury brands that like to go on sale at certain times per year, typically two times or so per year, I think it all begins with their engagement. And obviously a lot of the brands, they free up their time for these marketing efforts. And we help break down a lot of barriers to get them to focus their time on the strategy. But, I think it begins with a setting strategy for each one of these markets.

Matthew:

And it begins with communication. How are you going to touch that consumer? How are you going to touch that consumer in a way that relates locally to them? And then obviously making sure that you have all the tools in place to execute on that sale so that when that consumer hits for an Australian day like Frenzy, they’re seeing their currency in Australian dollars. They’re aware of GST and the 10% that has to be captured on every single order that is being built in your product price. These are things that you need to communicate, “Hey, we’ve got a great sale going on. But, hey, also we accept your local currency. You can come buy with confidence.” So I think as long as the marketing strategies within the brands are executing them the way they typically do, I think the next step there is to make sure that they’ve got the tools and the site in place to then obviously relate to that customer.

Stephanie:

Got it. And are you helping them implement those technologies? Or are you more giving avenues of like, “You couldn’t implement this tech stack or you could go with this one.”

Matthew:

So we typically implement it. Right? So all of our brands, even all of the ones that I’ve spoken about in the entire portfolio, basically what Global-e is doing is helping, let’s just say arm and equip their site to be able to speak to an international consumer. And I’d say a lot of brands, come to us and say, “Hey, we view you as our international outsource Ecommerce team.” Because we need to understand not only that I need to equip my US site to be able to speak to a consumer in China versus Singapore, versus Thailand and Canada and Australia and so on but, I also need to know what’s the right proposition. How do I take insights and data and duty and tax? And what do I do with all of these different elements that are barriers to that customer buying? And how do we break it down so it’s local to that consumer and market? And these are when I say quick to site and be ready for that type of volume to be hitting your site so that you’re able to convert that customer, that’s where Global-e comes into play.

Stephanie:

Got it. It seems like, you mentioned data earlier, it seems like you would have access to a ton of data from working with all these brands and seeing what works and what doesn’t work. Tell us a little bit about some of the insights that you guys are seeing and also teaching your brands when it comes to selling internationally.

Matthew:

Sure. So I think the first thing that in an engagement with a brand that we have, right? Because there’s brands of all different verticals, as you can imagine whether it be fashion and retail, whether it be beauty, whether it be footwear, streetwear and so on and so forth. So I think the one biggest insight in a lot of brands I would say, come to us for is, we want to understand what the rest of our vertical’s doing. How are they being successful? What are they doing to target consumers? And let’s just say all these parts of the world. So we really, I think from a data perspective, we consolidate it. And we sit on mountains of data that we can then drive from an insight’s perspective to the brand that, “Hey, based off of where you’re selling today and based off of where you should be selling tomorrow, we’re going to help you build a strategy on let’s just say end to end perspective. Right?

Matthew:

So it all starts from when the consumer hits the site, right? Currency, how are you going to show it? How are you going to also locally round that currency to make sure that it’s a number that that consumer can relate to in that market. Down to duty and tax strategies, shipping propositions, and all of the elements that we know are going to have an impact to a consumer buying. And as an example of that for a few key markets that we can at least relate to, Canada. Canada is a market that acts very much like the US. And I’d say far too many US brands that we tend to see will typically treat, let’s just say a Canadian shopper as they would a shopper within Singapore. And basically just take that product that they’re selling and sell it at the same experience worldwide and say, “Okay. But, did I think that a Canadian customer is used to paying tax when they hit a local shop to buy the shirt?” They never ever see the term duty in market experience.

Matthew:

So on your site, you should never ever display duty and taxes as part of an overall transaction. Otherwise, that consumer’s going to be shocked to see extra costs and abandon. And there’s other elements to, how do we factor in duty into the product price? Because that’s typically going to be a conversion driver for that Canadian consumer. And that goes even into markets like Europe and the UK, where it’s that inclusive. The typical buying experience for a European consumer. So the second that a US brand now puts at the point of checkout duty and tax and breaks it out, it’s going to cut their conversion in half. So these are the insights on a market by market basis where every country is and has to be looked at independently. And as far as too many times when we come into these conversations, our brand’s just taking a single strategy for the world. And I think that’s kind of one of the biggest opportunities to help our brand succeed.

Stephanie:

Got it. Yeah. That’s great. How are you all staying on top of consumer preferences or making sure that you’re staying on top of what’s hot? You can think of WeChat, it came up pretty quickly. And how people are using it changes all the time it seems. How is you guys’ company able to stay up with what people are expecting in different markets, and how they’re buying?

Matthew:

Yes. I think honestly it has evolved over the years. I think as a mature business with a lot of mature brands that obviously we rely on and rely on us. Depending on which aspect you’re looking out of the business, we’ve got a lot of robust technology internally that will help with that. So from a payment perspective, this is not going to be a single payment provider that’s going to be able to take it to offering every single payment method that you need in your arsenal to be able to let’s just say, service the world. I mean, enabling WeChat, Alipay, UnionPay into China’s is critically important. But, to be able to enable that is a big challenge. So I think typically what we do to stay ahead of let’s just say that front is we work very closely with our brands.

Matthew:

Like I said, there is a knowledge base out there with our brands that we’ve built up over these seven years that really drive and are a piece of driving our overall roadmap. So I think the voice of our customer is so critical that we continue to evolve, to adapt and definitely change. And then I think also internally with our focus only being cross border and international, we’ve built out the expertise, the knowledge and the data to understand that. And I think between the combination of the two, I think what we tend to do is always stay multiple steps ahead where a US brand can then focus their efforts on marketing on their US domestic market. And so for European brands, which is also no different.

Stephanie:

Yep. Makes sense. When I’m thinking about everything that’s happening right now, it seems like there is a lot of buying shifts happening. But, I haven’t really thought about maybe internationally, how the buying behaviors are changing. So I was hoping you could maybe touch on any trends or opportunities that you’re seeing overseas right now that maybe other people can’t spot because they don’t have access to all the data that you do.

Matthew:

Where I was heading with it a minute ago is having a chat with myself. I think when we look at the brands, I think there’s a lot of elements that we do bring from an insight’s perspective. So when you look at the data, it’s really a methodology around duty and tax we talked about. That’s one very big element. How and what to do with duty and tax in every single market to showcase it. I think when you look at payments, another very big element like Alipay, you mentioned WeChat pay, UnionPay, all very important into China. But, then into other markets like Germany, where Klarna is a highly adopted installment type pay methods on all throughout the Nordics, it’s critical and key. And you have to have that there in your arsenal to be able to convert a consumer or even acquire a consumer within that region.

Matthew:

And then I think we even get into let’s just say the Netherlands, over 58% that as we see through our platform of all odors or within the Netherlands are paid with ideal. I think these are the elements when you look at duty and tax strategy, when you look at payment strategy, when you look at overall shipping strategy, right? You mentioned logistics carriers and the challenges that they’re having today.

Matthew:

I think another element of that is from a logistics suite, offered your consumer a checkout, you need to make sure that that multi carrier approach is ready, equipped, and able to handle the volume that is going to be coming their way, especially as on a daily basis that can tell you our operations team is keeping up with the overall feedback from every single carrier from lane closures to lane impacted. Even just down to value, limitations and free ship thresholds and when to offer what. So I think as you look at the price strategy, the payment strategy, the duty and tax strategy, and you bring literally all of this together from a full end to end solution, that’s really what obviously makes this a successful approach to brands.

Stephanie:

Cool. And are there any opportunities you see right now that are popping up? Or you’re like, “I see a lot of maybe consumers internationally looking for this type of product.” Or there’s an unmet need here that could be solved. Any secrets that you have about these international markets?

Matthew:

I think for me, and typically what we tend to see in our market here is yes, brands come out of the gate saying, “Okay, I’m going to go international.” What does that mean? That to a lot of our brands ends up meaning I want to focus my efforts on English speaking countries, such as Canada, UK, and Australia. And I think that’s a good approach for brands to splash with. But, I think when you look at our business globally and we start to look at markets and regions, and then you call it… Any insights of secrets, I think right now what we’ve seen is the Gulf region. The Gulf region through COVID is a region that really has not decreased at all. And only seen a positive growth trends since, call it January of this year.

Matthew:

So when we let’s just call it, are reaching like the peak of April, we saw over a 575% growth in year and year sales [inaudible 00:19:48], which basically the trend has only continued and accelerated May through June. So I think for me and a lot of what we’re seeing, even specifically in that Gulf region with luxury with the UAE really accelerating with Saudi Arabia, with Kuwait, with Qatar. These are markets that brands never think in the US markets to put a strategy behind them. We’re seeing such a huge growth globally that I think they’re starting to rethink their strategies.

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s a good one. And have they always been part of your arsenal or is that something also that you guys are pivoting a bit more into that area?

Matthew:

So, I think the beauty of what Global-e does with our brands is literally with a single integration, whether it be the currency, the hundred plus currencies that we enable. Or whether it be the 150 different payment methods that we offer, the duty and tax guarantee for limiting risk and liability to our brands, all of that pulled together in single integration, opens them up to the world. So the first thing is, make sure your site is set up for success. So that should a consumer from a certain market hit your site, then they’re able to convert. And that is what Global-e does. And that enables let’s just say, even the Gulf region out of the box.

Matthew:

And then it becomes, “Okay, now we’ve got a proper offering. Now conversion and sales is accelerated where we want it to be.” And I think those second level conversations begin with the brands, their digital marketing teams, and how do I start acquiring new customers? How do I start really pushing my efforts to markets where I know that the demand is there and that I should not just waste my time trying to cover off all 220 countries and territories out there. Let’s focus in major and majors. And let’s really get a strategy together. This can have an impact to our overall celebration for business.

Stephanie:

Cool. So I’m thinking when it comes to international sales, the metrics that maybe you’re providing back to your customers, or that you guys are looking at frequently, maybe differ a bit than US centric sales. What kind of metrics do you guys look at to see if things are going well?

Matthew:

So I think from our perspective that the major metrics that we tend to focus on with our brands is always going to be conversion rate. Conversion rate is something that as a hosted checkout solution, Global-e has a full impact on. So our brand’s checkout is powered by Global-e as simply put. Meaning that we have hyper localized every element of that overall checkout. Which means if they’re going to put in all of the effort from a marketing perspective to get that consumer to a point of checkout, we are going to make sure that they are going to buy. And I think when you look at the ability and the approach of that let’s just say localization, conversion rate is always a forefront of what we look at with our brands.

Matthew:

And then I think sales growth, right? Sales growth as revenue is always going to be a second team metric that we 100% I would say, study and operate, and look at with our brands. And just full circle rounding it off as customer satisfaction. Even down to NPS scores with our brands that we share. And we look at down to the market level to make sure that if we’re getting from some negative feedback in a certain market, why? How do we help better equip that experience from an Ecommerce perspective, to make sure that we’re not just seeing and hearing that feedback but, we’re actually it.

Stephanie:

Cool. When talking about negative feedback, I was just thinking about when launching a new product, it might be easier to think like, “Oh, I should go international.” But, oftentimes people internationally don’t like the same things maybe as the things that we like here. So, is there any advice or guiding that you do for these brands who maybe are like, “We want to go international, we want to go everywhere.” Is there ever a time when you’re like, “Actually, I’m pretty sure people in Asia would never use that.” Like they don’t like that.

Matthew:

No, I think from a brand perspective our approach is typically always going to be as a brand, it’s the continuing drive to say the way that you’ve invested and looked at the domestic market. Not just from a fragmented perspective but, from a full end to end perspective, from the way that you talk to your customer, the way that you show them products, the way that you position products, the way that you promote products or free ship thresholds or show tax into certain markets. You can’t do anything differently when it comes to international. The way that your strategies are built here domestically are not different than that of international. And when we really interact with our brand, it’s specifically to help educate them on that overall fact because you’re right, consumers expect different things in different markets.

Matthew:

And if you’re not setting up your site for success to complete that, which is obviously what our biggest value add is, is that when our platform sits on top of your website, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Right? And you can now focus your effort on acquiring new business and new customers, which is really where brands want to be spending their time, especially the small and midsize ones who don’t have these robust teams as some of the larger brands out there. You’re talking to owners, you’re talking to founders, you’re talking to literally the folks that built this business from the ground up.

Matthew:

So they’re involved on every single ticket that every single consumer puts through the site and they’re reacting to it. That’s why I think for them to not have the burden of thinking about currency, thinking about, “Hey, I have to now register my business in Australia or Norway, or Switzerland.” Or what’s happening in the UK with Brexit and how are duty in that threshold changing in a market like Canada, which is so important. This is stuff that they no longer have to think about. That’s typically where we see the brands heading and we opened them up to the world so that they’re truly giving an amazing experience for their consumers the first time it ever hits their site.

Stephanie:

Got it. Yeah. So it’s essentially on the brands to make sure that they have a product that’s good and that will sell internationally. Then you guys come in and take care of everything else. But, it’s kind of up to them to do that due diligence and make sure that the product that they’re about to bring internationally is actually a good fit for that market.

Matthew:

Absolutely. And I think when you look at the brands, obviously, product placement performance, they own and control the brand, right? At the end of the day the customer is the brand’s customer. It’s their data. They have access to all of this data. It’s not ours, it’s not our approach with the brands. It’s always “Listen, we’re going to push and give you all the bits of information that you need in order to market to that consumer.” And then we also help through partnerships and other marketing channels, even let’s just say bringing eyeballs to their site. And I think those are elements when you look at how can you help brands and how can you obviously look to convert that brand, it’s super important.

Stephanie:

Cool. So you just mentioned bringing eyeballs to their site and that piqued my interest in what kind of effective channels are you guys seeing right now to bring new international customers to these brands?

Matthew:

Yeah. I’ll give you one example that I think is a relevant one. And we mentioned because it kind of ties into the overall payment perspective that we mentioned with offering Klarna in Germany and the Nordic region. And Klarna is getting very active in the payment space, which we’ve just been following very, very closely. But, I think Klarna has done a very nice job of securing some dominance in that European market. So one of the elements that we’ve done is we’ve partnered with them. We said, “What can we do from a payment perspective to outreach to consumers?” How can we take our brands and put their products within the Klarna network of consumers that exist out there to let them know that this small little mid sized brand in the US exists? And that is something that we’ve done to help the brands just as an example, that is super important. And we’ve seen a lot of value and a lot of return from that where this is something in a market that just typically these brands have not even thought about putting dollars into.

Stephanie:

That’s really interesting. It reminds me of earlier, when I was talking about products and may be opportunities. I mean, you hear that stuff happening, of people going on a vacation to Thailand, or like the guy who created red bull. They’re oftentimes overseas, when they see something happening, they’re like, “Oh, I see a method of doing this.” Or I see something that people really enjoy. And they may sometimes bring it back to the US. But, that’s also really interesting, kind of creating in a way an exchange that says, “Hey, here’s a bunch of brands that you may not know about.” And these overseas brands actually might want to tap into them as well.

Matthew:

Precisely. And then I think you get into a whole digital marketing effort that the brand really at that point takes a strong hold on, which we even sometimes will help them with. And I think when you look at it as, what are you doing from a marketing perspective? Is it Facebook? Is it Instagram? And how are you taking it from that digital perspective? And a lot of the brands that we market are specially through the times that we’ve had now, just really focusing hugely on Ecommerce. And how to tap into Ecommerce in two ways, either domestic or international. Because that’s the world we’re living in at this time which is supposed to really push the brands that had not had a firm strategy in Ecommerce to get there even quicker.

Stephanie:

Do you see any successful marketing efforts that are going on, that are similar themes among brands where they’ve shifted their marketing to this effort or another effort? And you see traction happening that maybe wouldn’t have happened before COVID?

Matthew:

I think just more of the adoption of digital marketing efforts and spend into more markets outside of the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. I think the first thing is really getting that digital marketing effort through whether it be Google, whether it be Instagram, whether it be Facebook. I mean, that is the traditional trend that I see as highly adopted right now across the brands that we work with. Each of them do it very differently. That’s for sure. But, all in a unique way that’s unique to their brand, where they build a personalized approach to build that trust with the consumer to get them to return.

Matthew:

So, I think for me, the channels have been pretty consistent in the adoption, like the ones I just mentioned. And then I think it’s more about how do I now start focusing on where to do this next? And that is traditionally what I spend a decent amount of time with our brands, just talking about what is your strategy? What’s the next market that you’re going to push money into, where you can get a return? And here are some that we see as focus markets for your industry, leveraging what we’ve seen globally across the vast portfolio brands that it is that we work with.

Stephanie:

Cool. So when thinking about some of the challenges with cross border shipping, I’m thinking about the high shipping rates and maybe local return options. And like you mentioned earlier, duties and taxes, how would you go about stack ranking these priorities for a new Ecommerce shop? And starting to think about this, what are the things that you just need to have as number one priority because if you miss that you’re done, whereas the other ones can get figured out along the way?

Matthew:

Yeah. So for me, I think the biggest aspect is having a full end to end approach. I know we talked about it a bit earlier where the customers from a US perspective are not going to miss a single instance of the way that the customer needs to be communicated to, talk to. And even down to the element of shipping checked out with. But, I think when you look at the backends and prioritization of what’s most important internationally, I’d probably put a duty and tax pricing strategy first. I think when you look at the overall elements and barriers that may differ between that of a domestic transaction and that have an international one, duty is not something that many brands are equipped to handle.

Matthew:

And I think duty is something that brands can most likely understand how to find a solution to calculate. But, then I think the question comes into, how do I calculate duty and tax into every single market throughout the world? But, then most importantly, how, and what do I do through being taxed to make sure that the consumer see it in a way that they will buy. And we mentioned Europe being a really key market for that. If you’re in Germany and you want to buy a sweater, you go into your sweater store and you buy that sweater, the experience that you’re going to receive is that sweater will be valued at a hundred euros. And you’re going to have nothing more to pay outside of that a hundred euro, call it VAT inclusive experience.

Matthew:

So, if you now try to talk to that German consumer in a way where you’re saying, “Hey, check out my website. And I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to break out duty for you. I’m going to break out tax and another line item for you.” That consumer’s not going to relate to it. So I think if I had to stack rank them all, even though I think pulling the full end to end is necessary to truly make it work from payments to currency, to communication, to customer satisfaction, all of those elements, even down through checkout and translation of checkout. And the ability to recognize city where there is a city, or recognized state where there is a state, or province where there is a province. These are all elements that should be pulled together. But, I would put the duty and price strategy first because I think it is the biggest barrier that brands struggle with.

Stephanie:

Cool. Yeah. That’s great. It’s always good to know where to start. But, agree on having an end to end solution. So this is a little bit of a higher level question. But, I know there’s been obviously a lot of shakeups when it comes to logistics, like we mentioned early on. Is there any new ways that you hear brands or that you’re advising brands to prepare for? If there’s another pandemic, if there’s something else that happens that maybe interrupts the logistics and supply chain and all that kind of stuff, do you hear anything behind the scenes of like, okay, going forward, we have this new kind of model or strategy to kind of future-proof us a bit more?

Matthew:

That’s a good question. I would say through COVID, what it’s taught me and where I spent a lot more, let’s just say time conversing than I thought I would have with brands was building contingency plans, when I came to realize that a lot of portfolio brands out there heavily reliant on a single logistics fulfillment center to manage their DTC business. And I think that as COVID hit and volumes doubled because stores closed and then fulfillment centers’ staff had to be cut in half, I think that posed for a huge logistics challenge that not many brands retailers or 3PL fulfillment centers were quick to handle. Basically double peak volume in a non peak period, completely unannounced. So I think when you bring that all together, I spent a lot of time with our global brands specifically, who really came to us and said, “Hey, we have some opportunity here. Meaning we’ve got product in many different markets throughout the world.”

Matthew:

So, if in fact, my facility in New Jersey shutdown tomorrow, obviously Global-e controls the technology elements of it but, the fulfillment piece they still own. So can we point our website for every single transaction, not change a thing for the consumer so that they’re not impacted. Let’s start pulling that product out of Hong Kong. And the answer is yes. I mean, it’s something that we could have easily done and we did do. And I’ve built more contingency plans than I ever thought I would have had to with our brands to support them should this have happened. But, as I landed my plane, I think the biggest kind of lesson learned here for me, if I’m sitting in on the brand side is to say, what is my contingency plan? Should something like this come up again. And do I have… Or can I turn inventory, or one in another market or another destination or location should my facility in New Jersey get shut down?

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s great. So are there any disruptions that you see coming maybe to Ecommerce after all this kind of settles down a bit, that you’ve built contingency plans around?

Matthew:

I think for me, the acceleration that’s going to continue, that started the second COVID hit to continuing to let’s just say accelerate as each one of these markets, typically that got hit hard. Six to eight weeks post that time, really, we saw the recovery. And it’s almost like the far East started and then Europe happened and then the US was kind of the latest to the table, which was super interesting. But, I think for me, what I’m seeing a lot of now is I speak to all of our brands on a regular basis, is we’re seeing a lot more brands now equip their business to be more digitally native. I think the old model of taking product and putting it in inventory, in market next to that consumer and having a very highly driven brick and mortar strategy, has changed.

Matthew:

And I think that the more personalized brands that are equipped to continue to accelerate their digital strategy, is either doubling down or it’s accelerating. And I think that that is to me, the biggest disruptor that I see coming in this landscape, which is the digitally native brands that exist out there that are highly emotional and personalized to their consumer, are really thriving during these times. And I think that we’re seeing a lot of the larger, more complex brands that are out there start to really build accelerated strategies to make sure that they keep up.

Stephanie:

Very cool. So, if I’m a newbie with, I’m building my new Ecommerce company and I’m starting to think about going international, where can I actually look to find out what’s happening behind the scenes at some of these brands? Maybe to see how are they operating their logistics or what is their playbook? Is there anywhere or communities or anything like that, that I can learn from other brands or see the behind the scenes of how it’s working?

Matthew:

Yeah. I think typically there’s going to be, from an education perspective, we see a lot of brands adopting different cross-border publications, different cross-border strategies through a lot of the conferences that have now become digital and more I would say highly even access. It’s in the past, these trade shows and all these things that used to really thrive on required a lot of time, a lot of dedication, a lot of effort, a lot of money to be able to access.

Matthew:

And I think now what I’m seeing with these all go virtual is you’re starting to see a lot more of adoption into these channels which is a lot easier to access. And I think when brands typically come and they’re looking in the enabled arena, they learn quite a bit. And I think that is one of the things every time we do talk to a brand it’s the first thing that they ask us. How is our peer group performing today? And are you happy with our conversion? And what changes can I make to be able to improve? And I think that’s just one of the biggest I’d say value adds from a data and an insight perspective that brands look for.

Stephanie:

That’s great. Yeah. I really liked the idea behind the virtual events are leveling the playing field. So now everyone can get access for either cheaper or free and not have to travel. And that’s a really good point and a great place to start.

Matthew:

Yeah. For sure.

Stephanie:

Before we move on to the lightning round, is there any topic that you really wanted me to touch on or cover that you were hoping I would bring up?

Matthew:

No. I think a very wide gamut of everything, which is great. No, I am fine.

Stephanie:

Okay, cool. Yeah. I do like to go in different areas of the conversation.

Matthew:

All good.

Stephanie:

Yup. The lightening round, which is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I’m going to ask you a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Matthew, are you ready to go?

Matthew:

I am as ready as I will be.

Stephanie:

Alright. What’s up next on your reading list?

Matthew:

Poof! My reading list, I would have to say Peppa Pig is one of the next books because my daughter is begging me to read it to her. So I will be most likely reading that this evening with her. It’s between either Peppa pig or Star Wars books. I’m trying to twist one way, I’m not going to say which way.

Stephanie:

Peppa Pig.

Matthew:

Exactly. Peppa’s super popular right now.

Stephanie:

Oh, I know.

Matthew:

That is the next step on my reading list. I have to be very honest.

Stephanie:

That is probably mine too. I like it. Yup. My son is obsessed with that as well. Alright. What’s up next on your Netflix queue?

Matthew:

Netflix queue?

Stephanie:

No kid stuff.

Matthew:

No kid’s stuff. Right now, I would say Dexter has been recommended highly to me and seems to get a lot of good ratings. So I think that with COVID now in place, my wife and I will saddle in and watch. And begin to accelerate the number of views that it seems [inaudible 00:42:42].

Stephanie:

That’s cool.

Stephanie:

So, if you were to have a podcast, what would it be about and who was your first guest to be?

Matthew:

I think if I were to have a podcast, I would say my podcast will probably focus something around sustainability. I think that right now with everything that’s happening in the world today, and when you look at just the impacts of COVID, and everything else that has happened in the world, I think that you’re going to see a lot of brands really adopt sustainable activities and life in general. Even down to our arena, which is call it shipping and how to package materials and stuff. So I think when you look at it, that would be for sure my approach. Who would my first guest be? I think my first guest would probably be my mentor and my father. I would give him the opportunity to be the first guest on my show and at least jump in and be able to share that memory should that podcast take off. And I know that I could say that I started with a family member.

Stephanie:

Well, I like that. Yeah. We have been actually talking about starting a sustainability podcast. So now I have a perfect host. You’re it.

Matthew:

You let me know.

Stephanie:

We’ll call you up. Alright. One more. What is A, your favorite piece of tech or a new Ecommerce tool that makes you more efficient, or you’re having success with?

Matthew:

What is the most? I would say right now for me there is a tool called Monday that we had used that has brought us a lot of efficiency in the overall arena of project management. So I think managing the level and the amounts of projects at a single time can be at times overwhelming. So within our project group it is a tool that we’ve adopted that I actually find very insightful because it really gives me a nicer view and a view and a clean view of the overall working structure of what we currently have to deploy and make sure that we continue to support each one of the brands in the queue, whether it be small, whether it be large. And get them out on time to hit their overall deadline to celebrate their Christmas.

Stephanie:

That is great. I will have to check that out. Well, Matthew, this has been an awesome conversation. We really did go all over the place. And I think our listeners will love it. Where can people find out more about you and Global-e?

Matthew:

So for me, I would say Global-e obviously hit our website, www.global-e.com. I think you’ll learn a lot, right? I think a lot of the statistics, a lot of case studies, a lot of country market reports, a lot of different case studies and things that we’ve done is going to be there. You can engage us there. And obviously, we are happy to help any brand of any shape and size. So, if this becomes something that you’d love to engage us on, hit the website, submit your information, and we’ve got a team member in pretty much any part of the world that’s going to be able to help you. This is an incredible thing to be part of at such a cool global brand that we are.

Stephanie:

Amazing. Cool. Well, thanks for effort. Thanks for listening everyone. And we will see you next time.

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