A Few Thoughts On eCommerce in Argentina

I spent several days in Buenos Aires last week which was fantastic – great fun and really helpful in terms of understanding what’s happening in the eCommerce market. Wednesday was the annual eCommerce Day event: It was packed with well over a thousand people in the audience.  I presented on global eCommerce trends that are set to impact the market in Argentina, and also met with a number of online retailers.

A handful of takeaways from these conversations:

eCommerce in Argentina is still at an early stage. There is tremendous interest in driving eCommerce in Argentina, but the real growth is yet to come. Today’s roughly $2B online retail market is dominated by MercadoLibre, with traditional retailers like Falabella, Garbarino and Walmart increasingly making the online channel a priority. Newer entrants like Dafiti are also carving out a niche in categories such as apparel.

Intra-regional cross-border eCommerce is very limited today. There was much discussion about cross-border eCommerce with China, but today little cross-border eCommerce exists within Latin America itself.  Online retailers are anxious to tap into consumers in other countries in the region, but few have made concerted efforts in this area. 

Most mobile initiatives are relatively new and focused exclusively on smartphones. Most online retailers’ mobile initiatives are in their infancy in Argentina. Many larger retailers are just rolling out mobile offerings (both apps and websites), and virtually all are focused on smartphones rather than tablets.

Delivery timeframes are typically in the one-week range. Unlike in Brazil where consumers in the major cities have been led to expect free one- or two-day delivery timeframes, in Argentina, online retailers don’t face the same challenge of meeting these high consumer expectations around delivery times.

Product selection is often cited as a hurdle to eCommerce. In several conversations, the issue of the limited number of brands available in the country came up as impacting the growth of eCommerce. Current import restrictions means that not all foreign brands are available, and often only a limited number of models or styles are offered. There is a sense that there will need to be a broader product selection available online in order to convince consumers to buy.

Other issues such as credit card payments also challenge eCommerce in Argentina, yet there is optimism that the opportunity is substantial and we’ve barely scratched the surface. At Forrester, we’ll be looking at this market in greater depth this fall as we update our online retail forecast for Latin America.


Ecommerce and Logistics in Argentina

Hi Zia,
Great post! We are an online marketing firm in Argentina. One of the main issues in ecommerce here in Argentina is the poor logistics and synchronization with online stores. You can buy online but the “send the merchandise part” is still manual. In other words, you have to arrange with your own courier and the company that sells you the merchandise to get it to you house. There is no seamless click click click process similar to what Amazon offers. Hopefully, the market will mature in the next couple years and this will become available.

Just some thoughts..thanks

Thanks for your comment!

Thanks, Carla - good input. Logistics seems to be one of the big hurdles in virtually every emerging eCommerce market: In addition to what you describe, it's common to hear about the lack of "eCommerce-ready" warehousing facilities or delivery networks that can keep up once demand really starts to grow. It'll be interesting to see how this area evolves in Argentina as the market develops.


Your presentation

Hi Zia!
I saw you on stage on the ecommerce day at Buenos Aires. I'd love to have access to your presentation, as we work on ecommerce and there are really interesting facts that I'd like to see in detail. Would that be possible?

Many thanks in advanced!


Credit card payments in Argentina

Hi Zia,

Very interesting post. I am particularly keen on digging deeper into your comment about how "credit card payments also challenge eCommerce in Argentina." I was wondering if you think the 20% tax on foreign purchases is a strong deterrent and if you think alternative payments are going to start encroaching on credit card payments. Please let me know if it would be possible to have a chat over the phone or via email.