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Overall business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales in Latin America will rise 24.2% this year to reach $88.3 billion, eMarketer estimates. Growth rates will remain in double-digit territory through 2018, when the category is set to reach $140.9 billion. As usual, Brazil and Mexico will be the primary contributors to the regional total, with respective sales of $31.9 billion and $17.5 billion in 2015. The subset retail ecommerce category will reach $45.75 billion in sales this year. Once again, Brazil ($18.80 billion) and Mexico ($5.94 billion) will account for over half of that category.
Smartphones have been one of the drivers of digital purchasing. In October 2014 polling by PayPal and Ipsos, 34% of adult digital buyers in Brazil and 46% of those in Mexico said they had completed at least one purchase via smartphone in the past 12 months. While Brazil stood close to the 33% average among 22 countries measured in seven regions, Mexico trailed only China (68%), the United Arab Emirates (57%) and Turkey (53%) by this metric.
eMarketer estimates that the smartphone audiences in Brazil and Mexico will reach 48.6 million and 34.2 million, respectively, in 2015, while tablet users will total 34.7 million and 22.9 million.
Among consumers polled by PayPal and Ipsos in Brazil and Mexico who had purchased via mobile devices—including smartphones and tablets—apps were the predominant vehicle over mobile browsers. In Brazil, 58% of respondents said they had purchased via apps, compared with 54% who had done so through mobile browsers. In that context, apps (73%) were much more prevalent than browsers (56%) in Mexico, which trailed only China’s 84% of respondents who purchased via mobile apps. Overall averages stood at 64% of respondents who had completed a purchase via apps and 52% who did so via mobile browsers.
The study also found that 18- to 34-year-olds represented a stunning 88% of smartphone buyers in Mexico. By comparison, that cohort accounted for 53% of smartphone shoppers in the US and 61% in Brazil, and the global average stood at 59%.
Aside from actual purchases, smartphones were also leveraged by consumers for a number of mcommerce-related activities worldwide, though in distinctive ways depending on the country, Ipsos and PayPal found. Smartphone users in Mexico overindexed by more than 10 percentage points—against the global average—in four of those activities: searching for product information (49%), investigating a shop’s location and general info (43%), downloading preferred merchant apps (30%) and scanning QR codes (29%). Consumers in Mexico did not fall below the worldwide averages in any of the activities measured by the study.
Consumers in Brazil, on the other hand, were far more likely to underindex in smartphone usage for mcommerce-related actions, especially when it came to scanning QR codes and sending money to other people, with only 10% and 9% of respondents, respectively, saying they did so—below the respective global averages by 8 and 5 percentage points.
Looking forward, the PayPal and Ipsos study estimated greater overall digital purchasing growth in Mexico than Brazil between 2013 and 2016, with respective compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 21% and 17%. The latter, however, was expected to see more improvement in mobile sales, with a 46% CAGR during the said period, vs. 40% for Mexico.
Overall, eMarketer estimates that B2C ecommerce sales in Brazil will rise 14.9% this year. Double-digit growth rates will be the norm in the largest market in the region through 2017, when a 10.9% improvement will bring the value of digital purchases up to $40.0 billion. Mexico will see a 34% improvement in 2015, with growth of at least 20% persisting through 2018, when digital purchases are expected to reach $32.5 billion.
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