One year with COVID-19:

how has cross-border business changed

In the early part of 2020, the world as we know it now was different. Before COVID-19 (BC), global businesses had plans and they worked. While there was some amount of uncertainty, there was no way to predict that just a few months later the world would be facing an event that would change the behaviours of consumers and nations quite so dramatically. The good news is that the dark shroud that is the pandemic is slowly lifting, heralding the arrival of a new era, now referred to as after COVID-19, or AC.

Before COVID, cross-border business was humming along. International travel was unrestricted, sourcing and shipping were unhindered, and companies could navigate international landscapes with ease. Then the pandemic struck, and many aspects of cross-border business were turned upside down.

In 2020, BC cross-border business was projected to grow the most in high-growth markets such as South America and Asia. The pandemic brought a wave of e-commerce customers in more developed countries as consumers began to purchase more items online. Let’s explore the differences between the BC and AC world that we will soon see.


  • International travel was easy.
  • Employees came to work at the office.
  • Plans to learn more about and expand into fast-growth markets were in place and being implemented.
  • Supplier and shipping issues were relatively straightforward and easy to solve.
  • Consumer needs and marketing had been fleshed out according to the times.
  • Consumers targeted for both brick and mortar and e-commerce.
  • Cross-border business regulations were easily tracked and relatively involatile.


  • Teams have internationally diversified.
  • More employees are working from home (team reorganisation).
  • Plans to expand into high-growth markets become more focused.
  • Suppliers are near or on-shored.
  • Logistics are restructured for shipping in smaller batches.
  • Consumer needs have shifted to purchasing an increasing number of day-to-day supplies online.
  • Consumers are more individually targeted for e-commerce.
  • Possible cross-border regulation changes are increasingly factored into business models.

While BC and AC are two completely different worlds, BC businesses were headed in the direction of an AC world. The pandemic has brought these changes around faster than most companies had projected. The acceleration of change left many cross-border businesses scrambling to implement changes they did not see coming for years and has left many behind in the dust.

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