With all the uncertainties of recent years around globalisation and international trade, one thing remains absolutely certain: we will all continue to trade across borders.

People have been engaged in international trade for more than 5,000 years – trading posts have been long established in South Asia and the Middle East.

One of the most exchanged commodities was spices – a combination of the demand for these high-value commodities, and the ingenuity of those who worked to sell them globally, meant the spice trade flourished.

“There is a new ‘spice trade’ emerging that will shape international trade, transform global supply chains and build new shipping routes: cross-border ecommerce”

Consumer demand has barely changed – there is still a desire for exclusive, high-quality and exotic goods.

They are willing to invest time and effort to seek out what they want at the best price.

Merchants are constantly looking for enterprising, creative ways of taking their goods to new markets and winning new customers.

As such, there is a new ‘spice trade’ emerging that will shape international trade, transform global supply chains and build new shipping routes: cross-border ecommerce.

The market

Ecommerce is not a new phenomenon – and neither, for that matter, is cross-border ecommerce.

People have been able to order – particularly from major online retailers – for years now.

According to research by Allpay, the cross-border market grew to $300bn in 2015 and it will continue to flourish.

DHL Express recently published research into cross-border ecommerce which has thrown up some fascinating insights.

First, this market offers superior growth rates than those available in almost any other retail segment today.

Cross-border ecommerce is expected to grow at around twice the rate of domestic online retail in the period to 2020.

By then, the market will be three times bigger than it was in 2015.

Additionally, customers tend to spend more – 20% of cross-border purchases have a basket value of more than $200.

A premium offering is vital to growth in cross-border ecommerce: retailers that offer this, including faster delivery, are growing 60% faster than the average.

This makes a compelling case for building an online offering that is open for overseas customers.

Growth opportunity

It is much easier than many think; take Asos as an example – 40% of its online business comes from international transactions.

The main barriers cited by customers to buying something from overseas are logistics, trust, price and customer experience.

Today, with reliable global door-to-door logistics networks that enable easy returns anywhere in the world, and off-the-shelf solutions making website visits, price calculations and transactions possible in just about any language or currency, these concerns are easily addressed.

The ‘modern-day spice trade’ is emerging, and it must be taken seriously.

It requires a new skill-set, a new mind-set and new approaches to managing inventories, supply chains and even customer interactions.

It offers a growth opportunity for all retailers and manufacturers – our research showed an average sales boost of 10% through simply having a cross-border option.

This approach will show the most positive aspects of global trade, allowing everyone to exploit the very best of their unique culture, skills and creativity to build prosperity.