Cross-border eCommerce: the future of global success

Mathieu Friedberg

In my final article (for now) on the rise of global eCommerce, I want to look at the emerging topic of cross-border eCommerce. As CEVA Logistics is now integrating the former Ingram Micro CLS business—known for its large eCommerce presence in Europe and North America—this topic has become increasingly important for me and the team here.

In many respects, cross-border operations develop into the most critical area of any business, becoming a catalyst for international expansion and growth. The same is true of eCommerce. Without cross-border traffic, a retailer’s goods are locally siloed with limited growth potential and little prospect of international success. With the right cross-border strategy in place, the whole world opens up. Anyone can send anything from anywhere to everywhere.


Opening the Road to Global Opportunities

Cross-border eCommerce is the selling of goods from a website to another party in another country, whether it be between a retailer or brand and a consumer (B2C), between two businesses (B2B), or between two private individuals (C2C). In any case, cross-border eCommerce is a complex process. However, with exponential historical growth and strong estimates for the future, it is clear why retailers still want in when it comes to eCommerce.

This new means of connection is more than yesterday’s international trade—more than point-to-point, country-to-country traffic. Today, cross-border eCommerce allows brands and retailers to reach markets with potentially challenging local operational conditions. By expanding internationally through eCommerce, retailers can increase the reach of their brand, making more customer connections and ultimately increasing revenue.

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In fact, cross-border eCommerce shipments are projected to be 22 percent of all physical product eCommerce shipments for 2022 —up from 15 percent in 2016 (Statista).

With complex layers of red tape and regulations depending on the country or market, successfully navigating cross-border operations demands experts in multiple niche disciplines. No one-size-fits-all solution exists for cross-border eCommerce, so it is vital to have a reliable and responsive partner that delivers satisfaction for the end consumer.

Required Expertise for Regulatory Complexity

Recent changes in Customs regulations are having a significant impact on cross-border eCommerce. The Customs compliance and clearance space was previously led only by integrators, who had a separate way of conducting Customs activities that was not open to freight forwarders. However, the boom in eCommerce has led to many changes globally in what are referred to as de minimis rules—essentially, how to expedite the clearance of low-value goods. This is an example of a change making it easier for third-party logistics providers to deliver more solutions for their customers.

The changes are not done either, with several pending pieces of legislation in various markets. Our internal CEVA Global Trade and Customs experts are continuing to monitor and participate in the discussions around these on-going changes in Customs regulation. Our close proximity to this topic allows us to adapt quickly and help our customers’ shipments to clear Customs using the most express methods available, while ensuring total compliance at the same time

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Certain industry estimates have the cross-border eCommerce market tripling in size from 2020 levels to reach roughly $1.5 trillion by 2027. With compound annual growth of 15 percent, shippers will need the right logistics partners to navigate this type of rapidly evolving market.

Reverse Logistics, Visibility in eCommerce

Returns are another huge consideration for eCommerce retailers, as return rates are around 20 percent across all online purchases. Beyond just last mile delivery, logistics providers like CEVA can also help to manage returns back through a distribution warehouse initially. From there, the process can follow the customer’s criteria for resale, refurbishment, warranty and swap management, return to vendor or shipping forward to secondary markets for liquidation. Through a range of services, we can provide a complete end-to-end, lifecycle approach that is vital for a cross-border eCommerce strategy.

Key to every step along the way is visibility on a parcel level. This visibility needs to integrate into not only the logistics provider’s system, but also the customers’ platforms to ensure the right experience for the end consumer. Over the years, we have invested in both the intellectual capital and the systems integration necessary to become a leading player in this field. Without this level of transparency, it is impossible to manage the whole process successfully while providing leading customer service.

One thing is for certain, eCommerce, and specifically, cross-border shipments, will only continue to grow. As all of this progresses, we’ll continue to offer both the domain expertise and the operational capabilities to create the right global eCommerce solutions for our customers. 


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