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Trends in Cross-Border eCommerce Amidst COVID-19

Vikram PriyadarshiVikram Priyadarshi
May 27, 2020

The COVID-19 global pandemic is the defining event of 2020, with implications that will last far beyond. This rapidly evolving situation is impacting people around the world in every possible way, include a profound effect on eCommerce businesses.

In these unprecedented times, Payoneer brought together eCommerce business leaders to discuss challenges, trends, and opportunities for cross-border sellers amidst COVID-19. In the face of isolation and uncertainty, these speakers shared insights and positive advice on how to leverage new opportunities.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the full webcast on adapting your brand to meet changing consumer needs, you can watch at any time by clicking below:


Identifying Opportunities

Our first guest, Payoneer’s Kavish Ahuja, offered great guidance on how to reevaluate eCommerce sales strategies utilizing real-time consumer data.

For example, changing consumer purchasing patterns during COVID-19 have impacted product categories differently.

  • Low impact categories include daily use goods. With many brick and mortar stores shut down, consumers are buying everyday products online, propelling an upward trend in these categories.
  • High impact categories such as handicrafts and textiles won’t likely go up just yet, so sellers in these categories will need to pivot to survive.
  • Medium impact categories vary. Discretionary products, linen, electronics, and other non-essential consumer goods are experiencing various degrees of change in popularity, depending on the subcategory.

This is the time to diversify if you feel your products aren’t selling well. If you can’t change categories, seek out subcategories that consumers are purchasing and explore different products that might be a game-changer.

How to Handle ‘Black Swan’ Events

black swan event

Kavish delivered a great and detailed timeline for handling ‘black swan events’ and thriving despite change and adversity. He advises that in the short term, businesses take immediate steps to protect employees, manage customers, and ensure supply chain continuity. Once pressing needs are addressed, eCommerce entrepreneurs can shift their focus to near-term goals, such as reestablishing credibility and reconfiguring their workforce. Most importantly, at this stage, it is vital to protect your customer base by spending on marketing, communicating via email, and other avenues to secure your clientele.

With the foundation established, medium and long-term strategies should focus on growth and leveraging new opportunities. From 4-8 weeks of initiating your COVID-19 recovery strategy, look to diversify selling categories, capture new market space, and optimize your marketing expenditure towards these growth goals. This isn’t a one-time thing – you should be checking up on top-selling product categories on an ongoing basis.

Finally, eCommerce sellers should make tangible changes to be able to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Hedge your bets on new markets and categories and get your business ready for fulfillment changes as they arise.

New Opportunities and Brand Building

Building your brand is integral to establishing resilience to volatility. To do this, Kavish offers a number of great tips:

  • Know your product.
  • Learn your demographics.
  • Establish your brand on Marketplace, leveraging built-in structure, data, and operational capabilities.
  • Don’t lose your own channels.
  • Epic brand launch and constant improvements.
  • Hedge your bets with new geographies, new categories, and new channels.

Payoneer integration in Marketplace helps propel eCommerce growth and ensures that you can stay on top of operations easily, establish your brand, and seize new opportunities. If you haven’t started yet, check out what Payoneer can do for your eCommerce business now.

Global Growth During COVID-19

business expansion

Our second webinar speaker, Chand Ajmera from Shopify, brought her eCommerce expertise to the table with important insights on taking your online store global. The first thing that should guide your growth strategy is finding out what new opportunities are presenting themselves. See what categories and subcategories are performing using top sale data, for example baby products or work from home essentials that have been trending throughout the lockdowns.

Next, strategize based on specific markets and their needs. Chand gives the example that while China is currently emerging from quarantine measures, the US still struggling. This means that purchasing patterns will be distinct. So, make every effort to use smart tools and data to guide your selling strategy and help you understand if you need to pivot your business in the short run. Some tools that Chand suggest are:

  • Google Market Finder
  • Google Consumer Barometer

Using advanced data tools will propel your eCommerce growth strategy with critical information.

One Source of Truth

With a wide range of integrations to unify your cross-border eCommerce store, Shopify allows sellers to seamlessly build their own store instead of using a marketplace. But why have your own store? Chand explains that there a range of benefits:

  • It lets sellers capitalize on differentiation.
  • It builds a better brand identity.
  • It lets sellers own their customer data.
  • It delivers total control.
  • It allows for greater diversification.

Setting up your store on a single unified platform delivers a single source of truth for all order data. Using a service like Shopify helps merchants start their businesses, sell everywhere, market themselves to drive more sales, and manage their business with knowledge and confidence.

One Platform, Every Channel, Any Device

The best way to access new areas and opportunities is to have one domain with a gTLD (generic top-level domain) and create country-specific stores on a subdomain. Subdomains are usually fairly easy to implement and will preserve ranking. The main benefit of setting up your eCommerce store under one unified platform like Shopify is that it offers multiple subdomains and integrations. This bolsters your presence and streamlines operations:

  • Offer multiple languages on your store, with integrations delivering quality translations.
  • Localize subdomains with complete local SEO strategies that don’t compete with your rankings.
  • Automatically send customers to the right subdomain based on client geolocation, encouraging engagement.
  • Shipping logistics facilitation with local fulfillment solutions in export countries.
  • Marketing localization straight from Shopify backend, including paid campaigns, with advanced digital marketing integration.
  • Provide customer service with an automated customer service platform.
  • Accept global payments in multiple currencies with integrations for Payoneer’s cross-border payment platform.

Payoneer and Shopify are both offering promotions for new users, so check out the full webcast to gain access to special deals.


Bouncing Back with Global Growth

Our third and final speaker, Mohammed Mubashshir from Unicommerce, discussed the benefit of multichannel selling with SaaS applications to improve efficiency and reduce logistical burden.

During COVID-19, there has been a huge surge in the number of active users on online shopping and grocery apps. This trend is expected to continue until travel restrictions and self-isolation protocols are lifted. This means that figuring out the right category to evolve your business globally is the first step to getting ahead.

eCommerce is facing a lot of difficulties, with diminishing revenues, and anticipated 60-70% returns on orders stuck in transit due to lockdown, and a long period of time before sales through online channels are normalized. Sellers that decide to sell on multiple online marketplaces will be able to leverage new opportunities and recover from these challenges. Of course, multichannel sellers will need software to help them organize and manage their online business.

Benefits and Challenges of Multichannel Selling

multichannel selling

A successful shift to multichannel can expand an eCommerce seller’s footprint, generating a boost in sales, contributing to improved customer loyalty and positive feedback, and enhanced brand visibility. Despite these numerous benefits, growing your business globally can also come with challenges and increased complexity:

  • Inventory and catalog management
  • Global tax and accounting compliance
  • Order management
  • Shipping and logistics
  • Higher labor and materials costs

Although diversifying on multichannels is best for business, these numerous challenges can be daunting. Mohammed explains that many of these complexities can be streamlined and simplified with SaaS. Technology to the rescue!

SaaS Solutions for Multichannel eCommerce Sellers

Unicommerce is a leading provider of SaaS solutions that connect and optimize eCommerce environments for brands, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors. With seamless integration on Marketplace, an advanced SaaS platform can vitalize your global growth strategy by increasing sales, lowering manpower costs, reducing inventory costs, and reducing eCommerce returns.

Reducing the logistical load of multichannel, cross-border eCommerce selling with SaaS solutions lets you focus on customer success, but look for platforms that are easy to implement and stay up-to-date with the latest innovations. Bringing your operations together in one place, with one single source of truth integrated technology, lets eCommerce entrepreneurs cater to a growing customer base across new geographies and product categories without increasing manpower.


Although the past couple of months have been an unprecedented ‘black swan’ moment for eCommerce sellers, this uncertainty also comes with opportunity. Identify categories, geographies, and customer demographics to inform your global growth strategy. Then utilize a single unified eCommerce store platform with multi-channel integrations to accomplish your growth goals. Thanks to our three talented and insightful speakers, eCommerce sellers have a clear strategy for capitalizing on trends in cross-border eCommerce amidst COVID-19. If you want to hear more tips and tools to propel your global growth, tune in to the webcast!


The content provided in this article including any information relating to pricing, fees, and other charges is accurate and valid only as of the date it was published. In addition, changes in applicable regulations, policies, market conditions, or other relevant factors may impact the accuracy of the mentioned pricing and fees and other associated details. Accordingly, it is further clarified that any information regarding pricing, fees and other charges is subject to changes, and it is your responsibility to ensure you are viewing the most up to date content applicable to you. Payoneer will provide the most up to date and accurate information relating to pricing and fees as part of the account registration process. Registered customers can view this information via their online account.

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