The Future of Cross-Border E-Commerce

One of the ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic was the surge in e-commerce growth. According to Digital Commerce 360 estimates, “consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44.0% year over year.”

One of the sub-stories of this e-commerce growth, however, is the continued rise in cross-border e-commerce. Based on estimates from the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development, cross-border e-commerce was $404 billion worldwide in 2018, accounting for 9.6% of B2C e-commerce sales. That was two years ago. It is safe to assume that the percentage today is over 10%.

How did the pandemic affect cross-border e-commerce? In the first half of 2020, after a slow start, cross-border online sales worldwide increased 21% compared to the first half of 2019, according to data from Global-e.


And according to a survey conducted by the International Post Corporation, as reported by Digital Commerce 360, “32% of consumers from 40 countries said they bought more in 2020 from online retailers in other countries because of the pandemic, and 51% said they plan to do more cross-border online shopping in the future.”

Simply put, the future of cross-border e-commerce is very bright.

However, as this January 2021 headline from The Guardian highlights, cross-border e-commerce is very different from domestic e-commerce.

Source: “Britons buying from EU websites hit with £100 customs bills,” The Guardian, Jan. 21, 2021

What are some of the complexities associated with cross-border e-commerce? How are companies and logistics service providers responding to the challenges and opportunities of cross-border e-commerce? What capabilities will be critical for success moving forward?

Those are just some of the questions we discussed in a recent webcast hosted by E2open titled, “E2talk: What to Expect from the Future of Cross-Border E-Commerce.” I was joined on the virtual stage by Jeff McDermott, SVP of Transportation Management at GEODIS, and Reinhard Poelzl, AVP Solutions Consulting at E2open (a Talking Logistics sponsor). It’s impossible for me to adequately recap the entire conversation here, so I encourage you to watch the recording for all of the great insights and advice Jeff and Rienhard shared. 

Is cross-border e-commerce a growing part of your operations? What is the most difficult challenge you face? If you’re a logistics service provider, is helping clients with cross-border e-commerce part of your growth strategy? Post a comment and share your experience and perspective!