It’s been a big news year for eCommerce in Latin America: Brazil’s economic instability has tempered eCommerce growth, elections in Argentina have raised hopes that favorable regulatory changes are ahead, and Amazon’s entry into Mexico has shone the spotlight on the region’s fastest growing market. According to Forrester’s recently published forecast, online retail sales in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico (the region’s three largest markets) will reach $30.9 billion by 2020, up from $20.8 billion in 2015. Some key findings from this research include:
Brazil remains the region’s dominant eCommerce market. Brazil’s online retail sales today are more than double those for Mexico and Argentina combined. Despite economic (and political) woes, online sales are growing, and the market shows signs of maturity: Online shoppers in Brazil span social classes and buy across categories – with categories like apparel and footwear gaining a larger share of the overall online retail sales pie.
Macroeconomic conditions in Argentina have presented obstacles to eCommerce growth. Tight import restrictions enacted in 2012 made importing products extremely expensive and kept foreign investment in the market at bay. The newly elected government appears to be working towards loosening up these restrictions, though little has changed so far. Local traditional retailers are driving eCommerce growth and increasingly adding omnichannel capabilities for consumers. For example, traditional retailer Falabella offers customers visibility into store inventory, and flexible fulfillment options like multiple pick up sites or buy online pick up in store.
Brazil remains the largest, but slowest-growing, online retail market. The online retail market in Brazil is double the online retail markets of Argentina and Mexico combined. But the ongoing economic crisis in Brazil is hurting its online retail market and causing a slowdown. We expect online retail in Brazil to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% from 2015 to 2020, compared with the CAGR of 28.3% witnessed from 2010 to 2015. Customers are spending less on both offline and online retail, which affects the overall growth rate and penetration of online retail, particularly in non-metropolitan areas. A lack of regulations and an unfavorable tax regime make it difficult for online retailers to expand beyond metropolitan areas.
Less than 1% of total retail sales in India were made online in 2014, but the impact of the Web on offline sales is much greater. The emergence of smartphones and the mobile Internet is playing a much bigger role in influencing the purchase decisions of online users. Customers are using them to research products, even when they are shopping in physical stores; to compare prices with online retailers; to check specifications; and to read user reviews. This user behavior is making the Web a more powerful medium — one that retailers can no longer ignore. It is most influential in categories like computer hardware and software, media, footwear, apparel, and consumer electronics, as these contain a greater number of online-savvy retailers. We recently published the Forrester Research Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2014 To 2019 (India), which reveals that:
$70 billion in offline sales in India will be influenced by the Web in 2019. This is more than twice the volume of total online retail sales in India, emphasizing the importance of the Web as a way for retailers to connect with customers.
Forrester’s retail forecasts chart how the changing nature of consumer behavior will have an impact on online and offline retail sales over the next five years. During a recent webinar, Forrester detailed five key trends that the forecasts have revealed:
Worldwide online retail sales are growing and varied. Asia Pacific is the world’s largest online market; it’s more than twice the size of North America. But online retail in India and China is very different. When considering your online investments, you must take into account not just retail market size but also supply (like organized retail), consumer demand, and infrastructure maturity.
Online buyers are spending more and in more categories. In mature markets like the US, online growth is coming from existing buyers spending more online. The typical online buyer has doubled the number of categories from which they buy online over the past five years.
Web-influenced sales are greater than online sales. In Western Europe, the Web will influence 45% of offline sales by 2020. Although 93% of retail sales in Western Europe were offline in 2014, an online presence is critical to retailer success — as web-influenced sales were more than three times larger than online sales.
Western Europe is one of the largest online markets for cross-border trade: In 2014, Western consumers spent €26 billion on cross-border trade, representing 17% of eCommerce sales in Western Europe. Our recently published Forrester Research Online Cross-Border Retail Forecast, 2013 To 2018 (Western Europe) shows that cross-border trade depends on sales flowing into a country from domestic cross-border purchases and sales flowing out of a country from nondomestic shoppers. Cross-border trade gives retailers an opportunity to expand outside of their domestic markets with minimum upfront investment. To succeed, retailers must understand the cross-border shopper and how to compete internationally.
Online cross-border shoppers:
Are looking for the best price. Price-sensitive online shoppers drive cross-border sales. The price of domestic goods in countries like Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Ireland make the consumer more likely to shop cross-border to find a bargain.
Are looking for the best choice. The consumer choice offered by large online retail markets in countries like the UK, France, and Germany make the consumer less likely to shop outside of their domestic market.
Spend more online, have higher incomes, and are younger than domestic shoppers. Retailers need to know the types of categories bought online to better target the cross-border shopper.
Reviewing online functionality for a selection of key European online only retailers, I am struck by a shift. With the basics of purchasing and navigation nailed down, the devil is now in the detail of implementing online functionality for apparel retailers – particularly those that are online only. Now we are seeing both subtle and overt efforts to improve merchandising and remote clienteling online proactive live chat, 2D size guides, personal shopping style guides and ‘compete the outfit’ suggestions on product pages.
To get to the next level of best practice and differentiation online apparel retailers need to keep refining their website functionality in order to succeed in a competitive and increasingly crowded category. Empowered customers are using multiple devices to shop online helping to drive forecasted online retail sales growth of 12% in Europe (2013 to 2018). To secure their chunk of this growth, online apparel retailers need to constantly evaluate, test and implement new and improved functionality to support merchandising and drive consumers through the path to purchase.
Alibaba has an ambitious goal: becoming the first company to exceed $1 trillion in gross merchandise value in the next five years. To accomplish this, Alibaba is looking to expand in emerging markets, as developed markets like North America and Europe are mature and have high barriers to entry. Emerging markets with rapidly growing smartphone penetration, relatively poor offline retail experiences, challenging logistics environments, and limited online payment infrastructures are ideal targets for Alibaba’s expansion.
The mobile marketplace is a huge opportunity. Forrester expects mCommerce in India to top $19 billion by 2019— an attractive opportunity for players like Paytm, which currently counts more than 25 million users. Forrester expects that the number of online buyers in India will rise from 36 million in 2014 to 125 million by 2019.
On November 20, Google released a report on the findings from a survey it conducted in collaboration with Forrester on online shopping trends in India. The report highlights what’s driving the growth of eCommerce in India, including mobile commerce, female shoppers, and the growing number of people in tier two and tier three cities making purchases online. However, the report also noted some barriers to online retail in India, such as its poor showing regarding customer satisfaction and trust; to make further progress, eCommerce firms must work hard to improve in these areas. The report’s key findings involved:
Mobile shoppers. Mobile is driving the market, especially in tier two and tier three cities in India. Half of the online shoppers in tier three cities are already on mobile, compared with just one-third in tier one cities. The percentage of online buyers making shopping queries from a mobile device has grown from 24% in 2012 to 57% in 2014. Forrester forecasts that mCommerce in India will reach $19 billion by 2019.
Women. Women are far more active buyers than men in tier one cities. They outspend men online by two to one, and one-quarter of women in tier one cities make mobile purchases.
New buyers. More than 70% of people in tier one and tier two cities who do not currently make purchases online are expected to do so in the next 12 months.
New growth areas. Home furnishings, cosmetics, and baby care are the next areas of growth for online retail after the success of online retail in the consumer electronics segment.
Here in the US, all signs point to winter: Daylight savings has just begun; specialty holiday drinks have been added to cafe menus; and several cities have already witnessed the first snowfall. And with the arrival of the chilly season comes preparation for the mad rush of holiday shoppers.
Although the holiday retail season is shorter this year, given fewer days than average between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consumer expectations of retailers during this holiday season are greater than ever. When it comes to online retail specifically, consumers seek out – and have come to expect – great deals and free shipping throughout their holiday gift hunt. In fact, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that shipping cost is the most important factor in a consumer’s decision to purchase from a retail website (such as Amazon.com or Gap.com):