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5 facts about e-commerce in Brazil international online retailers should know

by Marjorie van Elven
29 Nov 2018

Brazil may be in the middle of a major economic crisis, but that doesn’t mean foreign e-commerce companies should ignore the country. A new report by the Ecommerce Foundation about the Brazilian e-commerce landscape shows that buying products from international online shops is a habit for no less than 48 percent of Brazilian shoppers, of which 8 percent prefer to shop from foreign websites exclusively. Here are 10 facts from the report every e-tailer should know.

1. Brazilians are hyperconnected

About 74 percent of the Brazilian population has access to the Internet, up from 68 percent in 2017, and they are heavy social media users. Brazilians spend an average of 3 hours and 43 minutes on social media every day, with Facebook being the most popular network. 130 million of the country’s 280 million inhabitants have a Facebook account, making Brazilians the third largest Facebook user base, after India and the United States. WhatsApp is equally popular: with over 120 million users, the messaging app has even had a decisive impact on the latest election results. Brazil is also the sixth most active country on Twitter, with 18 million users. With such a hyperconnected population, digital influencers such as Camila Coelho (7.5 million followers) and Thássia Naves (3.1 million followers) are just as important for fashion advertisers as traditional media outlets.

2. Most of them access the Internet using smartphones

Mobile shopping has grown by over 10,000 percent in Brazil since 2011. Last year, no less than 25 percent of all e-commerce transactions were made using mobile devices. Smartphones are the primary way to connect to the Internet for 60 percent of Brazilians and, while not all of them own a phone, 92 percent of households have at least one mobile device. However, 25 percent of the country’s websites are not mobile friendly yet.

3. E-commerce is expected to grow despite of the crisis

B2C e-commerce exceeded 21 billion US dollars in 2018 -- that’s 1.14 percent of the country’s GDP. Although the economic crisis has caused the average spending per shopper to drop from 429 US dollars in 2017 to 354 US dollars in 2018, the amount of Brazilians who shop online is forecasted to grow by 18 percent this year. That’s because Brazilian consumers are increasingly looking for convenience and comfort, according to André Pereira, Head of Marketing for Brazil and LA-South at SAP Customer Experience, who’s quoted in the report.

4. Multi-brand online shops are the most popular

Mercado Livre is Brazil’s biggest e-tailer, with almost 28 million unique visitors in 2017. The website can be described as “the Brazilian eBay” -- and, in fact, eBay does own a 19.5 percent share in the company. Mercado Livre is followed by CNova, the e-commerce conglomerate behind the brands Casas Bahia, Ponto Frio and Extra, which combined gathered 23 million visits in 2017. The third place belongs to B2W Digital, which operates the websites Americanas.com and Submarino, with 21 million visitors.

This ranking indicates that multi-brand platforms and online marketplaces dominate the e-commerce landscape in Brazil. No less than 57 percent of Brazilian consumers bought an item from this type of website in the last 12 months.

Wondering what Brazilians buy the most online? Good news for fashion retailers: clothes are the second most popular category Brazilians shop online, having been mentioned by 59 percent of surveyors, behind household appliances. Electronics are a close third.

5. They love Asian webshops

Almost half of Brazilian e-shoppers regularly buy from foreign webshops, but from which other countries are those websites they're visiting? Turns out 35 percent of Brazilians used to cross-border shopping prefer online shops from Asia -- perhaps due to Alibaba’s rising popularity and the fact that Brazil is home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. Webshops from North America come second, having won the preference of 21 percent of Brazilians.

However, cross-border shopping isn’t always easy. 44 percent of Brazilians are not satisfied with how long it takes for their purchases to be delivered, and many of them get an unpleasant surprise once the package finally arrives: import and shipping taxes were mentioned as a nuisance by 42 percent of consumers, and 32 percent complain that the information about import taxes is often unclear.

Picture: Pexels