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eCommerce is growing in Latin America, although the figures are still modest

11. May 2017
eCommerce in the region accounts for 2.6% of total trade. Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia have the greatest volume of online transactions.
eCommerce is growing in Latin America, although the figures are still modest

eCommerce in Latin America is beginning to take off. It has yet to reach the levels of Asia or Europe, but is seeing a significant increase. Despite this, according to the study by the Higher Institute for Internet Development entitled Challenges for eCommerce in Mexico 2017, eCommerce represents only 2.6% of total trade in the region.  

Of all the major countries in the region, Argentina shows the greatest activity in online transactions, followed by Chile and Peru, with Brazil and Mexico lagging behind. Colombia is a special case, as the figures published so far take into account all online transactions–including payment of taxes and Internet services–in addition to eCommerce.

Argentina invoiced a total of 6.67 billion dollars in 2016 via online platforms, up 51% over the previous year. The most popular categories are household items (with growth of 124%), cosmetics and perfumes (up 104%) and accessories for cars, motorcycles and other vehicles (a rise of 98%). The average ticket for Argentinian consumers is 142 dollars.

Chile and Peru saw similar figures: eCommerce in Chile generated a turnover of 2.82 billion dollars, and 2.8 billion in Peru. The case of Peru is particularly interesting, as it has seen a 198% rise in eCommerce in two years.

Brazil and Mexico come bottom of the table. In spite of their size, eCommerce had a turnover of 44.4 million dollars in Brazil and 16 million dollars in Mexico. Even so, these figures represent growth of 7.4% (since 2015) and 59% (since 2014) respectively.

Finally, online transactions were made in Colombia for a figure of 16.33 billion dollars, taking into account both eCommerce and the payment of taxes and services via the online channel.

To achieve greater and more sustainable growth, the region needs to tackle several challenges related to security and infrastructures. According to Helmut Cáceda, president of the Peruvian Chamber of eCommerce (CAPECE), it is necessary to enact a general law to promote secure buying and selling via the Internet. This view was echoed by the Colombian Chamber of Commerce, which has invited the companies in the country to implement good practices to prevent electronic fraud. The Mexican Internet Association (Amipci) has also expressed its concern about these issues. eCommerce in Mexico represents only 1.6% of total trade, and Amipci has highlighted the problem of trust in the information supplied by consumers to purchasers as being one of the factors holding back the boom in this channel.

Another possible tactic–as indicated by various business owners in Colombia a few weeks ago–would be to promote new and different payment channels other than debit and credit cards, and improve the various delivery options.

Sources: E-Commerce Day (Chile), Pueblo y Sociedad Noticias (Brazil), Diario Correo (Peru), Ebiz Latam (Argentina), CM& (Colombia), El Colombiano (Colombia), The Huffington Post (Mexico)

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