Flow, developer of a global cross-border commerce platform, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, and including new investments from retail industry firms Fung Capital, the investment arm of the Fung family in Hong Kong, and digital brand investor Forerunner Ventures.
Other Flow investors include an array of retail entrepreneurs, including Brian Lee (The Honest Company), Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (Gilt, Glamsquad), Alexis Maybank (Gilt, Project September), Shan-Lyn Ma (Zola) and David Tisch (Spring.)
Flow, founded by retail technology veterans Rob Keve and Mike Bryzek, aims to bring a localized shopping experience to international cross-border e-commerce through a cloud-based software platform that leverages artificial intelligence and virtualization to support multi-currency pricing, rapid shipping, international payment options, taxes and duties, and simplified returns.
E-commerce by nature seems highly conducive to cross-border buying and selling, and as international powerhouses like Alibaba and Amazon continue to expand globally, taking their marketplaces partners with them, it's natural to expect a huge boom in cross-border e-commerce. The challenge to that potential growth is, well, that there are many challenges — widely varying tax structure and regulations from country to country, expensive and complicated logistics, currency exchange mathematics and more.
Regulatory groups, such as the European Commission, have been working hard to alleviate some of the challenges, and UPS and other companies have been working to sort out what could be a very lucrative cross-border e-commerce logistics market opportunity.
Flow (not be confused with this Flo, or even that other Flo) aims to show that artificial intelligence is up to resolving a lot of the prevalent cross-border e-commerce challenges (AI does everything else, so why not this, too?). Though cross-border sellers certainly need regulators to create more relaxed and open market environments, what they ultimately will need more are platforms which help them manage all the quirks of cross-border e-commerce, and somehow render it all invisible to customers.
Flow claims its platform helps present the the complex global marketplace as a localized shopping experience. That's what shoppers want, whether they are shopping for items around the block or around the world.