In a year marked by an unprecedented pandemic and many economic uncertainties, e-commerce in Latin America is expected to grow 8.49% and reach USD 200 billion in market value, becoming one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, according to the study Beyond Borders 2020/2021, released today by the fintech company EBANX.
Based on data from the main players in the sector in a partnership with AMI (Americas Market Intelligence), in addition to consumer surveys and internal EBANX data, Beyond Borders 2020/2021 was dedicated to understanding the impacts of COVID-19 on online purchases in the region and in four Latin American countries: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile.
“There is a new Latin America that emerges from the pandemic. Despite the tragic effects on public health and in the countries’ economies, millions of consumers were able to access digital goods and services and were financially included with the surge of new products. Beyond Borders outlines this new digital outlook, that can become a path for the economic recovery in the region and for the inclusion of thousands of Latin Americans,” says João Del Valle, co-founder and COO of EBANX.
As stated by the study, 52 million people in Latin America will buy online for the first time during the pandemic, increasing the number of online consumers by up to 30% in some countries – a jump that, under normal conditions, would only be achieved by 2022.
“The pandemic has more than doubled the estimate of new online consumers in Latin America,” says Juliana Etcheverry, director of Expansion LatAm and Strategic Partnerships at EBANX. Social isolation measures adopted throughout the year, in addition to emergency aids paid by local governments through digital accounts, helped to boost the online market.
New payment methods such as digital wallets and debit cards in Brazil have advanced in the region’s e-commerce, reaching up to a 32% growth rate in some countries, as occurred with e-wallets in Chile, according to AMI data.
Nevertheless, cash vouchers, like boleto bancário in Brazil and OXXO in Mexico, represented up to 20% of online purchases in LatAm during the pandemic. These traditional and widespread local payment methods also grew in international e-commerce: in Brazil, for example, 68% of consumers mentioned boleto as their preferred payment method for cross-border purchases, according to the survey conducted with 3,280 consumers by Beyond Borders 2020/2021.
When it comes to international purchases, price has become even more decisive for Latin American consumers, who have been facing an economic crisis with record unemployment. Paying cheaper is now the main driver for buying on international websites, according to consumers consulted by Beyond Borders 2020/2021.
Even with the devaluation of local currencies against the dollar, which negatively impacted international retailers along 2020, Latin Americans increased the consumption of digital products and subscription services offered by global companies – which grew up to 63%.
The internationalization of e-commerce in Latin America is also reflected in some of the most trusted brands by consumers. Netflix, SHEIN, Amazon, AliExpress, and Spotify are some of the most mentioned by those interviewed by Beyond Borders 2020/2021.
When considering online visitor traffic, the main players in e-commerce in Latin America are Mercado Libre, Americanas, OLX and Amazon, followed by Brazilians Magazine Luiza and Casas Bahia.
The largest market in Latin America, Brazil saw a 25% jump in the number of online consumers in 2020, according to figures collected by Beyond Borders 2020/2021. As a result, the e-commerce market in the country is expected to grow 8.3% this year, and accelerate 19% in 2021, reaching a total value of USD 134 billion.
When it comes to payment methods, the use of debit cards in e-commerce grew 16% during the pandemic, driven by a new authentication protocol and the use of emergency aid for online purchases. Digital services such as streaming and online games have increased by 42%, and mobile shopping has reached record levels: 85% of consumers surveyed by Beyond Borders 2020/2021 said they have already purchased on smartphones.
Mercado Livre, Americanas and OLX are the main e-commerce players in Brazil according to online traffic data; the American e-commerce titan Amazon appears in fourth place, followed by Magazine Luiza and Casas Bahia.
A market where mobile purchases overpassed the desktop ones, Mexico is expected to finish 2020 with 31% more online consumers, the largest increase in the region. The Mexican e-commerce market should grow 12% this year and jump to 25% in 2021. One of the main drivers is the consumption of digital products and services, which grew by 37%.
International purchases account for almost 20% of the market, mainly due to the proximity to the United States. International websites have the preference of 51% of consumers interviewed by Beyond Borders 2020/2021, dividing the attention with national brands. This is also demonstrated by online traffic: Mercado Libre, Amazon and Coppel are the main players in e-commerce in Mexico in terms of online visitors.
As for the form of payment, the OXXO voucher stands out, being the third most used method in the country, just behind credit and debit cards.
One of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in Latin America, Colombia saw e-wallet payments jump 20% this year, according to AMI data. Mobile purchases match those made by the desktop, and the e-commerce market is expected to double in size by 2023.
The penetration of streaming services is noteworthy: 80% of consumers consulted by Beyond Borders 2020/2021 in the country had subscriptions, a much higher percentage than in other markets. The consumption of digital products and services in Colombia grew 63% during the pandemic, according to AMI data.
Mercado Libre, Amazon and Falabella appear as the main e-commerce players in the country, according to online traffic data.
Despite being the smallest market among the surveyed countries, Chile is expected to see the volume of online purchases double in size by 2023. The country’s population is more banked than in the rest of Latin America, and cards represent around 85% of payments in online commerce.
At the same time, mobile shopping, although still less significant than in other countries, has shown very high adherence in recent months: more than 80% of Chileans interviewed by Beyond Borders 2020/2021 used some app to make purchases during the pandemic.
Chilean Falabella, followed by Mercado Libre and Yapo, appears as the main e-commerce player in the country, according to online traffic data.