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Latin America's e-commerce ecosystem could grow more than 50% in the next three years, Marcos Pueyrredon, president of Latin American e-commerce institute ILCE, told BNamericas.
Speaking at a presentation of the latest Information Society Index drawn up by technology consultancy everis and the IESE business school at Universidad de Navarra, Pueyrredon said there is plenty of demand for buying online with a high level of consumers using the internet to compare prices and products.
But consumers are still going through a process of learning to trust online sellers, and consumer loyalty will grow as online sellers adopt best practices.
"There is still a lack of [the implementation of] best practices. All of the tools to generate trust exist. But the e-commerce offering is still new. The seller doesn't have a whole lot to do, but they have to do it well," Pueyrredon said. "The online consumer is much more demanding than the traditional consumer."
Internet access is no longer really an issue for online consumers in the region, and there is no excuse for an SME not to sell online as it can set up an online store for under US$100, the executive said. "It's no longer an economic factor - it's a cultural one."
Product pricing is also no longer the determining factor, but rather comes behind convenience and comfort.
The executive underscored that among the top rated e-commerce sites in Latin America last year were Chilean department store Falabella, Chilean airline LAN, Mercadolibre (the Latin American E-bay) and online stock market Interbolsa. This year Groupon has surged to be among the top sites.
Among those, LAN now carries out 30% of its sales and 50% of its contact with customers online, Pueyrredon said.
The top six countries in the region for e-commerce are Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.
Pueyrredon said that mobile would be key for developing e-commerce, but that it was not yet clear which devices would be predominant. He said it would most likely be a multipurpose device that combines the benefits of smartphones and tablets, among other devices.
Like what happened with open source software, the mobile ecosystem is much more flexible now, allowing developers to build applications that suit cultural developments in e-commerce.