Internet lets US export consumer lifestyle

Dec 21, 2011 by Glenn Chapman
An ad is seen on the Target website for a Cyber Monday sale on a laptop computer in 2010 in San Anselmo, California. US retailers are exporting the country's shopping culture along with once hard-to-get goods to locales around the world.

As gift-buying frenzy mounts in the days before Christmas, US retailers are exporting the country's shopping culture along with once hard-to-get goods to locales around the world.

Spending at US "e-commerce" websites climbed 15 percent from the previous year by the start of December, and online sales on the "Cyber Monday" after Thanksgiving set a new record high of $1.25 billion, according to comScore.

The international share of the Cyber Monday shopping tally climbed to nearly seven percent, the industry tracker reported.

" and are definitely American exports," said Michael DeSimone, of New York-based FiftyOne Inc., which specializes in helping US store websites handle international transactions.

FiftyOne tends to shipping, tariff, currency exchange and other logistical hassles that discouraged US shops from catering to customers in other countries.

Increasingly, instead of having to travel to the United States for a coveted brand of jeans or t-shirts, people outside the country can simply order online, according to DeSimone.

Sales handled by FiftyOne this so far have more than doubled from last year.

FiftyOne clients include US retail titans Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Sears, as well as Aeropostale, Barneys New York, Crate & Barrel and online-only "flash sales" sensation Gilt.

Gilt has added tens of thousands of new members since it went international in November with FiftyOne's help, according to Gilt senior director of logistics Crystal Caligiuri.

Gilt sales are modeled after New York City sample sales in which people queue outside shops for chances to buy brand-name products at deeply discounted prices while limited supplies last.

A view of the Clarins counters at the Bloomingdale's 59th Street Store during the Clarins FEED 25 bag event in November in New York City. FiftyOne clients include US retail titans Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Sears, as well as Aeropostale, Barneys New York, Crate & Barrel and online-only "flash sales" sensation Gilt.

"It's first-come, first-served deals," Caligiuri said. "Whoever clicks on the mouse first gets it."

Since Gilt launched four years ago, it has been flooded with email requests to ship items to Russia, China, South America or elsewhere, but wasn't geared for international sales until November 8.

"We saw a lot of those customers storm in and shop," Caligiuri said. "It's been fun to watch."

US "e-tailers" are indoctrinating international shoppers into this country's rhythm when it comes to bargain hunting and seasonal discounting, according to DeSimone.

"Globalization means that consumers want to have the ultimate retail experience -- which really means having the American retail experience," DeSimone said.

"And consumers know when big buying days in the US are driving sales of the goods they want to purchase, so that also drives international purchasing."

Connecting with global shoppers also causes merchants to adapt to ways things are done in other countries or cultures.

For example, the season in a given hemisphere influences whether winter clothing or beach wear are discounted and US retailers can capitalize on pegged to local holidays in other countries.

"The changes in the way we have to think are numerous," Caligiuri said.

"We have to think about how our international customers are similar and how they are different," she continued. "The other important part is making sure the Web experience makes everyone feel comfortable and wanted."

US retailers' savvy regarding online commerce promises to make the array of items available to international shoppers current and varied, and to boost investment in online shopping across the board, according to DeSimone.

Explore further: Startups offer banking for smartphone users

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US Cyber Monday spending hits new high

Nov 30, 2011

US online shopping hit a record high on Cyber Monday with people racking up $1.25 billion worth of purchases on the Internet, according to comScore.

Retailers look to stretch out Cyber Monday push

Nov 23, 2009

(AP) -- Retailers are thinking beyond Cyber Monday - a holiday marketing promotion many push for the Monday after Thanksgiving - and trying to spin their discounts into into Cyber Weekends or even Cyber Weeks.

Recommended for you

Startups offer banking for smartphone users

Aug 30, 2014

The latest banks are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Startups, such as Moven and Simple, offer banking that's designed specifically for smartphones, enabling users to track their spending on the go. Some things ...

'SwaziLeaks' looks to shake up jet-setting monarchy

Aug 29, 2014

As WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to end a two-year forced stay at Ecuador's London embassy, he may take comfort in knowing he inspired resistance to secrecy in places as far away as Swaziland.

Ecuador heralds digital currency plans (Update)

Aug 29, 2014

Ecuador is planning to create what it calls the world's first digital currency issued by a central bank, which some analysts believe could be a first step toward abandoning the country's existing currency, ...

WEF unveils 'crowdsourcing' push on how to run the Web

Aug 28, 2014

The World Economic Forum unveiled a project on Thursday aimed at connecting governments, businesses, academia, technicians and civil society worldwide to brainstorm the best ways to govern the Internet.

User comments : 0