eCommerce Sales In Brazil, Mexico And Argentina Will More Than Double By 2019

Latin America remains solidly on the radar of eCommerce leaders taking their brands global—at the same time, local players are rolling out sophisticated offerings of their own to compete with the growing number of international players in the region. Which trends will propel eCommerce forward and how big will these markets be in five years? Our newly published forecast addresses both topics for the three largest markets in Latin America: Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. We find that:

Young, increasingly digital shoppers are driving eCommerce across the region... The markets of Latin America boast not just a rising middle class, but also a young, digitally savvy population. Indeed, while the average age in the US is 38, in Brazil and Argentina it’s 31 and in Mexico just 27. These young consumers are accelerating the shift to online shopping and embracing mobile just like their counterparts around the globe. Still, business leaders that are eagerly eyeing the region must bear in mind that mobile commerce is still at an early stage—it does not yet represent the same high percentage of online sales as in some Asian markets.

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Marketing And Site Features In Brazil’s eCommerce Market

We just published our third and final report in the Retail eCommerce in Brazil series. We tackled key performance indicators in our first report and team headcount and priorities in our second—our third report looks at the marketing tactics employed by online retailers in Brazil and the site features they’re embracing.  All three reports summarize the findings of a survey we fielded of 300+ online retailers in Brazil together with partner e-Commerce Brasil.  

In the report, we find that:

Online retailers continue to rely heavily on core marketing tactics. Despite the bevvy of new and emerging marketing options at their disposal, eCommerce leaders continue to prioritize search and email marketing as the most effective tactics for acquiring customers. Not surprisingly, store-based online retailers find offline advertising more effective than other types of online retailers do, and web-only retailers find social networks to be a particularly good source of customer acquisition.

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More Trends in Brazil’s eCommerce Market

eCommerce in Brazil has gone from an $8 billion market in 2010 to a nearly $20 billion market today.  As the market has grown, eCommerce team sizes have expanded and retailers’ priorities have shifted. We address these issues in the second of our three-part series on retail eCommerce in Brazil. The three reports summarize the findings of a survey we fielded of over 300 online retailers in Brazil together with partner e-Commerce Brasil.

In our most recent report entitled Retail eCommerce In Brazil: Team Headcount, Priorities And Challenges, we find that:

Operations has the highest headcount while analytics and customer experience lag far behind. Our survey shows that the average eCommerce team in Brazil has 24 members, with half of those being part of the operations team. Customer service, IT and marketing fall further down the list. eCommerce teams include just two people in usability/customer experience and just one in analytics.

Hiring qualified talent remains many online retailers’ largest hurdle. When asked about challenges, retailers cited hiring as one of their biggest issues over the next 12 months. Not surprisingly, the two areas of low headcount cited above – customer experience and analytics – are two of the most challenging positions to hire for in other markets, as well. The other top challenge cited by Brazilian retailers was managing fulfillment costs and expectations – not surprising given Brazilian shoppers’ expectations of free, quick delivery in major metropolitan areas. 

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Global eCommerce Will Shift In 2015

We just published our predictions report for global eCommerce in which we identify 10 trends and discuss the impact they’ll have on the industry in 2015. We look at key commerce topics such as mobile and omnichannel and also address what we expect to see from some of the global eCommerce giants in terms of their international efforts in 2015.  In addition, we explore topics such as:
 
  • The B(R)IC markets will continue to attract attention, but smaller ones will also gain traction. Next year, we expect to see continued interest in Brazil, India and China (the political situation in Russia means it will be bumped down the list for many US and European brands). However, all of these markets will remain challenging for varying reasons and we expect that other emerging markets will gain traction with brands in 2015. Indeed, a look at the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index shows the BRIC markets falling well below other markets like Malaysia, Thailand, the UAE, Mexico and Colombia. Many eCommerce organizations won’t yet be able to justify the cost of launching direct-to-consumer sites in these smaller markets, but a handful of large global organizations will jump in to establish a brand for themselves before their counterparts do the same. Brands looking to sell cross-border will also turn their attention to smaller but fast-growing eCommerce markets.
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Key Metrics In Brazil’s eCommerce Market

In August and September of this year, we fielded a survey of online retailers in Brazil together with partner e-Commerce Brasil, an established industry organization. The goal was to better understand key performance indicators (KPIs) in Brazil as well as retailers’ priorities, challenges and the size and composition of eCommerce teams.

We received over 300 responses to our survey and have just published the first in our three-report series based on the survey. Retail eCommerce In Brazil: Key Metrics provides a look at over a dozen KPIs such as conversion rates, average order values, return rates as well as sales driven by smartphones and tablets. Our report analyzes the data by retailer type (web-only, traditional retailer or manufacturer selling direct) as well as by retailers’ total online revenues and tenure.

A few findings from the report:

Conversion rates in Brazil average 1.9%. In Brazil, we found conversion rates that varied quite a bit by type of retailer, with web-only retailers reporting the highest conversion rates. These rates tend to increase as markets evolve: Our previous research on The State of Retailing Online 2014: Key Metrics & Initiatives conducted with Shop.org yielded an average conversion rate of 2.7% for the US.

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Three Things We've Learned About Emerging eCommerce Markets

As global eCommerce players like Alibaba and Rocket Internet have made headlines in recent weeks, there has been much focus on how eCommerce is emerging around the globe. While a lot of the media coverage has looked at the specific operations of these two players, it’s important to note some of the trends that are powering growth in emerging eCommerce markets. Below are two themes we discuss in our research — and one more that keeps rearing its head in the media:

  • If traditional retail stores don’t meet rising consumer demand, eCommerce will fill the void. In some emerging markets, the nature of the traditional retail market left consumers particularly ripe for eCommerce. In markets like China and India — which have highly fragmented traditional retail landscapes and few retailers with nationwide footprints — consumers in smaller cities have traditionally had little access to global brands. This situation leaves an opportunity wide open as the growing number of middle-class consumers seek out access to a greater variety of products. Even as eCommerce revenues have soared across Asia, few traditional retailers have been quick to embrace the new medium. Today, eCommerce in many countries across the region is almost completely dominated by Web-only players.
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eCommerce Evolution In Brazil

Many brands eyeing Latin American eCommerce markets look first to Brazil, and with good reason. Brazil is Latin America’s largest online retail market by a wide margin and growth rates remain high: Our forecast shows the market growing by a CAGR of 18% to reach $35 billion in 2018. 

As in every fast-growing eCommerce market, however, companies that compete in this environment face numerous challenges. Issues like complex tax navigation and the long path to profitability are well documented. In addition, companies need to prepare for shifts in what consumers buy online and how they make these purchases. The dynamics of online shopping are shifting.   

Our report published today on The Evolution Of eCommerce In Brazil (client access req’d) discusses five trends that will impact the online retail market in the country. While these same trends will play out in many markets around the globe, our report dives into how and when we expect to see shifts in Brazil. 

For example, in Brazil:

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Five Global Marketplaces All Brands Must Know

Global online expansion is not the same game it was just a few years ago. Today companies are taking a multi-pronged approach to international expansion and looking at a variety of different ways to tap into online shoppers in different markets. One approach that has been gaining momentum is the use of global marketplaces.

Traditionally dominated by small- and medium-sized businesses, online marketplaces have been extending their offerings for global brand owners. Brands today have a growing number of options to build out enhanced official storefronts on these global marketplaces, reaching hundreds of millions of online shoppers in the process.

Our report published this morning on Five Global Marketplaces All Brands Must Know (client access required) focuses on the opportunities and challenges of selling through global marketplaces. In the report, we profile:

Amazon. The giant of US online retail offers brands more than just a point of entry into the US market – brand store options are available in all 10 markets in North America, Europe and Asia in which the company operates marketplaces.

eBay. eBay's global offerings are growing rapidly: Current marketplace options for brands in countries such as the US, the UK and Australia being supplemented with new offerings in emerging eCommerce markets. The company has taken innovative steps to tap into the cross-border online shopper. 

MercadoLibre. This long-time leader in Latin American eCommerce has rolled out enhanced brand store options over the past year, opening up opportunities for brands looking to tap into the millions of new consumers starting to shop online in the region every year.

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eCommerce Evolution in Latin America

I just got back from a couple of days at eTail Latin America in Miami — it was my third year at the event and I always come away having learned an enormous amount from the other attendees. This year, some of the takeaways included:

Everyone’s talking about mobile, but the real shift is coming. The online retailers I spoke with had all either rolled out or planned to roll out smartphone offerings, but mobile investments overall are still quite small. Tablet commerce initiatives are few and far between. Retailers’ mobile revenues, while growing, are not typically at the same levels seen by many leading eCommerce players in Asia. This dynamic will shift significantly as both smartphone and tablet penetration increase: Across the region, penetration of both types of devices will shoot up over the next few years.

Payback periods on new eCommerce offerings remain long. A theme we write about frequently is the fact that businesses often assume short payback periods on new global digital offerings. The unfortunate reality, however, is that eCommerce initiatives often take many years before becoming profitable. This challenge is front and center in Latin America. There are some profitable businesses — the founder of Brazil’s Beleza na Web talked about how he got his company into the black — but many large online retailers continue to suffer losses. Businesses jumping into any of the Latin American eCommerce markets must be patient.

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Common Themes Across Three Global eCommerce Markets

Over the past few months, I traveled to several different eCommerce- and retail-related conferences, including events in Brazil, China and Colombia. The eCommerce markets in these countries are wildly different, yet a few common themes emerged at the events, especially in relation to omnichannel:

Retailers aim to leapfrog with their omnichannel initiatives. In all three markets, there are a number of traditional retailers that are just launching or building out their eCommerce offerings. Given that these retailers are starting with a clean slate when it comes to digital initiatives, they are aiming to forego the siloed approach that many US and European retailers took when they launched eCommerce. Instead, as these retailers look to develop or expand their eCommerce initiatives, they seek to create integrated offerings across all of their channels that emulate best-in-class omnichannel offerings around the globe.

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