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What to expect from LatAm’s e-commerce market in 2023

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, December 22, 2022
What to expect from LatAm’s e-commerce market in 2023

Although the pandemic momentum has subsided, Latin America’s e-commerce sector is set for growth next year, even though the macro scenario could cause problems, as all regional economies are expected to register lower growth, potentially affecting consumption and retail sales.

"The countries of the region will once again face an unfavorable international context, in which a slowdown in both growth and global trade, higher interest rates and less global liquidity are expected," the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) said in an October report.

A key trend involves greater presence of international e-commerce players, particularly Asian ones like Shopee and AliExpress. According to a study global payments platform Nuvei commissioned to research company Americas Market Intelligence (AMI), Asian companies will represent 28% of imports to Latin America via e-commerce by 2026, compared to around 16% in 2022.

“Latin America is a very relevant market for international traders. Brazil and Mexico, in particular, are attractive for their size, dynamism and cultural patterns, which mirror Asian markets,” Nuvei’s head, Yuval Ziv, said in the report.

Two other trends – growing online sales via smartphones (m-commerce) and e-commerce payments via digital wallets, such as MercadoPago and PicPay and instant payment systems – will also strengthen next year.

ALSO READ: Are there too many virtual wallets in Latin America?

In Brazil, the central bank's PIX instant payment system hit a new record on December 20, with 104mn transactions carried out in 24 hours, according to the institution.

Launched in November 2020, PIX has 143mn registered users, of which 132mn are individuals and 11.7mn legal entities. In September, the system surpassed the mark of 1tn reais (US$192bn) moved in the month. 

ALSO READ: How the rise of instant payment is changing how Brazilians bank

PROJECTIONS

The number of digital buyers in the region is set to increase by more than 20% by 2025 over the estimated current 371mn buyers, according to research firm Statista. This growth is partially driven by the young and digital-savvy population, coupled with the rapid expansion of internet and smartphone penetration.

But the smaller share of individuals in the formal, traditional banking system, compared to other geographies, also made the region a fertile ground for e-payment services and digital banks, offering facilities and less bureaucracy. 

By 2025, regional online retail sales are expected to reach US$160bn, up from US$85bn in 2021, with Brazil and Mexico competing for the top spot, according to Statista.

Brazilian e-commerce association ABcomm expects online sales to reach 186bn reais next year, up from 170bn reais estimated for 2022, and frequent online buyers reaching 87.8mn, some 5mn more. 

According to the latest FecomercioSP survey, e-commerce in São Paulo state alone should generate revenues of 66.7bn reais this year, 13.7bn reais more than last year.

In Mexico, over 48% of the population purchased goods or services online this year, expected to reach 53% in 2023. In 2019, 37% of consumers bought digitally, according to Statista.

Mexican online sales totaled 401bn pesos (US$20bn) last year, up 27%, representing 11.3% of total retail sales, according to local e-commerce chamber AMVO.

Meanwhile, Argentine e-commerce grew by 73% year-over-year in the first half of 2022, with sales reaching 1.09tn pesos (US$6.24bn), according to local e-commerce chamber Cace.

Colombia's CCCE, for its part, projects e-commerce sales to grow 19% in 2022 from the 40tn pesos (US$10bn) generated last year, which was a 40.2% increase compared with 2019.

INVESTMENTS

To accommodate growth, platforms are spending big on distribution centers and delivery fleets.

MercadoLibre invested US$1.45bn in 2022 in Mexico, a record for that market, which became the company’s second one after Brazil. Most investments were for logistics infrastructure, like warehouses and distribution centers.

The company has scaled up supply infrastructure and aims to fulfill more orders through its Mercado Fulfillment logistics network.

ALSO READ: How same-day delivery 'frenzy' is fueling AI investments in logistics

Such investments are particularly important in Mexico, Brazil and Chile, with the highest penetration in Mexico, where over two-thirds of all orders are managed via the fulfillment centers.

But access to credit represents a hurdle in the country, as over 54mn Mexicans are deemed outside the regular financial system, according to local statistics bureau Inegi, which is why the online retailer boosts its MercadoPago wallet.

In Brazil, MercadoLibre invested 17bn reais this year, up 70% from last year, as part of its strategy to grow and consolidate business in its main market.

MercadoLibre is also increasing the number of green vehicles in its fleet. It aims to end 2022 with more than 1,000 electric vans and small trucks operating across Latin America, up from 548 last year, with the expansion focused on Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, which are due to receive more than 500 electric vans. 

For DHL, e-commerce has changed logistics profoundly, even more so during the pandemic. The company is also greening its fleet.

“Electromobility is on everyone's lips. We already have electric vehicles and there are many customers who are demanding cleaner logistics, but I wanted to clarify that green logistics is not just this,” Ignacio Oliverio, DHL Supply Chain director of transport for Peru, Argentina and Chile,told BNamericas in October.

“It also implies routing well, good waste management, good tire monitoring, how many kilometers are traveled per day, etc. This is logistics that manages its carbon emissions well, and we have the goal of having zero emissions as a company by 2050.”

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