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Spotlight: The state of e-commerce in Latin America

Spotlight: The state of e-commerce in Latin America

E-commerce remains on an upward trend in Latin America after the pandemic frenzy, as consumers that became first-time online buyers during the lockdowns are expected to continue their shopping online despite the reopening of bricks-and-mortar businesses.

However, growth in online sales is expected to slow in most countries due to the high base of comparison and as inflation erodes people’s purchasing power.

On the other hand, e-commerce still accounts for only a small fraction of total retail in the region, which means there is still a wide array of growth opportunities for companies in the sector.


In Brazil, e-commerce chamber ABComm projects that revenues will reach 170bn reais (US$33.2bn) this year, up from 151bn reais in 2021, when the sector accounted for 12% of retail sales (excluding cars, autoparts and civil construction). 

According to ABComm, the number of e-commerce users in the country is set to grow to 83.7mn in 2022 from 79.8mn last year. The forecasts are from February, however, prior to the war in Ukraine and the worsening of the global inflation scenario.

Consultancy and intelligence platform Neotrust, for its part, estimated that sales hit 161bn reais last year and will grow 9% in 2022.

In the first three months this year, Neotrust said sales grew 13% year-on-year in Brazil, rising to around 40bn reais.


In Mexico, online sales totaled 401bn pesos (US$20bn) in 2021, up 27%, and representing 11.3% of total retail sales in the country, according to the latest report by e-commerce chamber AMVO.

Market research firm Statista projects that around 58% of the Mexican population will be buying goods and services online by 2025, up from 39% at the end of 2020.

In 2021, food delivery, fashion and electronics continued to lead the list of the most popular categories in Mexican digital channels, said AMVO, with furniture and home decor, appliances and sports showing notable growth in the preferences of Mexican shoppers, it added.

The challenges for the e-commerce sector in the region this year include high inflation hurting consumers on the demand side, and logistics, freight and other costs on the supply side.


Argentina added over 684,000 e-commerce customers in 2021, reaching 20.7mn at year-end, according to an annual report from local e-commerce chamber Cace, produced by Kantar.

Nonetheless, the frequency of purchases made online in Argentina in 2021 slowed compared with the boom in 2020.

The sector generated 1.5tn pesos (US$12.3bn) in sales last year, an increase of 68%, with some 381mn products acquired (up 52%), according to Cace. 

In 2020, sales surged 124% compared with 2019 and were also up 76% in 2019.

The most popular categories of online goods last year were cell phones and accessories; foods, drinks and delivery; non-sports apparel; and sports apparel.


In Chile, local e-commerce committee CCE and the Santiago chamber of commerce (CCS) see growth in online sales slowing somewhat this year.

Projections are that these sales will reach US$12.6bn, still up 5% over 2021, and will account for 12% of all Chilean retail sales. Last year, e-commerce in the country is thought to have generated US$11bn in revenues, up 20%.

The Chilean CyberDay 2022 event, held between May 30 and June 1, saw total sales of nearly US$500mn, up 15% over the 2021 event, with over 5mn transactions for the acquisition of 20mn products and services, according to CCS.


Ecuador is also projecting growth in sales this year.

Local e-commerce chamber CECE forecasts that online sales will rise to at least US$4bn this year, compared with US$3.2bn in 2021. The projections were presented by CECE president Leonardo Ottati during the event E-Commerce Day earlier this month.


Colombia’s CCCE, for its part, projected that e-commerce sales would grow 19% in 2022 from the 40tn pesos (US$10bn) in online sales last year, which was a 40.2% increase compared with 2019.

Total online sales in Colombia for the first quarter of 2022 were 12.2tn pesos, a nominal increase of 47% over the same period of last year, according to CCCE.


Peruvian e-commerce chamber Capece has not provided forecasts for this year, but said in a report that online sales were US$9.3bn 2021, up 55%, with 13.9mn Peruvians making online purchases.


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