Ecommerce in Latin America is still in the early stages of consumer adoption, but there's no question that it's growing. According to eMarketer's June 2018 forecast, retail ecommerce sales in the region will grow 17.9% to reach $53.20 billion this year. And though growth will slow a bit in subsequent years, sales are expected to total $82.33 billion by 2022.
Matteo Ceurvels spoke with Andrea Stairs, General Manager of Canada and Latin America at eBay, about the state of ecommerce in Latin America, and how their companies found early success in the market.
This interview was conducted as part of eMarketer's report, “Latin America Ecommerce 2018: Digital Buyer Trends for Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.”
What is the motivation behind a person shopping online vs. going out and buying the item in person in Latin America?
Stairs: There will always be occasions where consumers will prefer to buy an item in person. Physical retail will never disappear but rather evolve from simply a place to transact to more of an experience.
eCommerce, however, is incredibly popular because of the many benefits including convenience as well as access to more inventory and great value. Plus, with technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, online experiences are becoming simplified and far more personal.
eBay leverages these technologies to continually enhance the user experience, making it easy to access the more than 1 billion items on the site and find the exact item they’re looking for, at a great value.
What are the main barriers hindering ecommerce growth in Latin America?
Stairs: From eBay’s perspective, anything that causes barriers or frictions to online global trade weakens the growth of ecommerce for the Latin American region.
Shipping, for example, can be a challenge for Latin American sellers looking to export, as they need to find the right balance between speed and cost to keep their business competitive while offering great customer service. Local postal services may offer competitive pricing at the expense of speedy delivery and tracking accuracy, while private carriers can be expensive.
At eBay, we are helping to overcome some of these challenges by partnering with logistics providers that offer better economics for sellers and a better experience for buyers.
What, in your opinion, is driving ecommerce forward in Latin America?
Stairs: Cross-border trade is by far one of the most important growth drivers for ecommerce in Latin America, from both consumer and retail business perspectives. Shopping a global marketplace like eBay gives consumers access to greater inventory selection and value, which increases their purchase power.
On the flip side, retailers–particularly small and medium-sized businesses–who reach consumer markets beyond their immediate region automatically increase their chances of making a sale.
We see small and medium-sized retailers on eBay enthusiastically embrace cross-border trade; 100% of small businesses in Latin America that sell on eBay export and are exporting to an average of 20 international markets. In fact, the majority of sales from SMBs selling on eBay come from exports.
What differentiates eBay within Latin America’s ecommerce ecosystem? And what, in your opinion, has been the secret to eBay’s success on a regional level?
Stairs: eBay has one of the world’s largest selections of inventory with 1.1 B items worldwide and more than 500 million available for our users in Latin America, our breadth and depth of offerings is unparalleled. This access to such a wide range of inventory also brings great value for buyers which, combined, makes our platform stands out as a leader in ecommerce and cross-border shopping.
Also, eBay gives both small and large Latin American sellers the tools and services they need to build their businesses and drive sales through exporting, accessing buyers in 190 different markets around the globe. Giving Latin American buyers and sellers access to a global marketplace has been the key to our success in the region.
How important is mobile and a mobile-centric audience to eBay when developing a go-to-market strategy for the region?
Stairs: eBay has consistently been a leader in mobile commerce and we continue to think “mobile first” as we design new products and experiences. We were one of the first ecommerce companies to introduce a mobile app and, to date, our apps have been downloaded over 402 million times globally!
As you would expect, mobile is a critical component of our business: more than 60 percent of eBay’s volume involves a mobile touchpoint–from a buyer starting a search or watching an item, to fully completing a transaction on their phone. Mobile is also changing how consumers and businesses sell: roughly 13.7 million eBay listings are created each week via mobile devices.
eBay’s mobile-first approach directly applies to the Latin American region, where we see strong smartphone adoption. For instance, a recent study from the Mexican Internet Association found that 79% of people use their smartphone for online shopping.
We’re continually innovating to provide the very best mobile experience so that consumers in Latin America can literally shop the globe from their mobile device whenever, wherever inspiration hits them.
What excites you most about the future of ecommerce in Latin America?
Stairs: What excites me the most about the future of ecommerce in Latin America is the tremendous growth potential, and how eBay is playing a key role in this growth by creating a better form of ecommerce for both buyers and sellers.