E-COMMERCE IN LATIN AMERICA: Shop till you drop.

Author:Buchanan, David

Online sales in Latin America are expected to surge to $80 billion next year from $49.8 billion in 2016, and online shoppers will grow from 127 to 155 million. Such growth provides a golden opportunity for retailers and logistics companies.

Banking and internet, the key ingredients of e-commerce, are unbalanced in most of Latin America. The exception is Chile, which has the highest rates for both.

According to the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a global partnership of more than 30 organizations that seeks to advance financial inclusion, about 39% of the roughly 426 million adults in Latin America have a bank account, a rate similar to Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

On the other hand, internet penetration has grown substantially over the past decade, and, according to a study by U.S.-based logistics company UPS, online shopping rates in countries such as Brazil and Mexico are now similar to those in Canada.

E-commerce sales in Latin America are expected to surge to $80 billion next year from $49.8 billion in 2016, according to market research and business intelligence consultant Statista. At the same time, the number of online shoppers is seen rising to 155.5 million from 126.8 million.


The key to success in the Latin American e-commerce market may be to offer an "omnichannel" that provides shoppers a unified experience online and offline. For retailers, that means integrating shopping at bricks-and-mortar locations, mobile apps, social media and e-commerce marketplaces. In many parts of the world, consumers consistently jump between online and offline shopping.

Smartphones are leading the trend, with improvements in technology and app market growth making for easier shopping, said Louis Dejianne, director of marketing, consumer goods, apparel and retail at UPS. Consumers have become more comfortable using phones for purchases. Technologies and procedures are also more secure, plus the checkout process is much easier.

"Historically, at the checkout you had to type in your credit card number and other information, which on a phone can be challenging," said Dejianne. "With the advent of single-click or dual-click checkout, that process has become easier."

Today, the U.S. or Europe are no longer leading online shopping trends. The process has become very standardized, "so whether you're in Brazil, Mexico, or anywhere else in the world, people are increasingly shopping with their phones," said Dejianne.

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