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Affluent Digital Buyers Lead the Way in Colombia

Retail goods ahead of intangible purchases in Colombia's ecommerce market

Colombia’s business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce market is relatively new and small—and early adoption trends are different than those seen in other countries. According to Spanish research firm The Cocktail Analysis and Cámara Colombiana de Comercio Electrónico (CCCE), consumers in the affluent 5/6 socioeconomic levels were the most likely to buy digitally, with 85% in the two groups combined making a purchase over any desktop or mobile device in the 12 months prior to polling. Unsurprisingly, the 3/4 socioeconomic groups (middle class) followed at 60%.

The Departamento Nacional de Planeación (DNP) defines socioeconomic strata in Colombia based on the physical characteristics of homes and their surrounding areas. There are six socioeconomic groups, with “1” (low-low) at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and “6” (high) at the top.

B2C ecommerce was evenly common among all age groups, except the youngest measured. According to The Cocktail Analysis/CCCE, digital purchases were most common among 25-to-34-year-old internet users, followed by 45- to 55-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds. Just 46% of adults 18 to 24 were digital buyers, a likely reflection of the demographic’s more limited purchasing power.

The categories most purchased using the internet reflected another atypical trait for a market in the early stages of ecommerce adoption. Electronics/computer products and fashion—apparel, shoes and accessories—were the most cited by digital buyers in Colombia. Tickets for entertainment events such as movies and other shows came in third. Meanwhile, travel, a common starting point for new ecommerce markets, ranked fourth.

Still, a category that may be connected with widespread B2C ecommerce adoption, food and drinks, was rare, ranking eighth out of 13. And according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe, TNS Infratest and Google’s Consumer Barometer, just 2% of digital buyers in Colombia had purchased groceries digitally. Food deliveries and, specifically, online grocery shopping, are most common in developed ecommerce markets, where robust distribution chains have been established over time.

Digital retail and distribution chains in Colombia, however, are still in early developing stages. In fact, nearly four in 10 digital buyers recalled having problems with their digital purchases at least once, be it a product that wasn’t what they expected (68% of respondents), delivery delays (48%) or deficient items (21%).

While there’s a long way before ecommerce commoditization in Colombia, there’s also plenty of room for growth in the third-largest country in Latin America by population, based on census bureau data from the Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística (DANE), and fourth by gross domestic product, according to the CIA World Factbook.

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