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Retail ecommerce in Latin America is growing at a rapid pace and will approach $50 billion in 2015. Behind that trend is a rising digital buyer base. After a robust 17.4% gain last year, the number of internet users ages 14 and older in the region who make at least one purchase via any digital channel will rise 12.9% this year to reach 110.0 million, eMarketer estimates. By 2019, the last year in our forecast period, that number will rise to 151.1 million.
A closer look at digital buyer growth rates by country shows that Mexico will improve the most this year. The country, which has been slow to adopt ecommerce compared with regional neighbors, will pick up the pace to add 13.4% and finish with 16.2 million digital buyers.
But while Mexico is expected to register the strongest annual improvements in the number of consumers purchasing digitally through 2019, penetration among internet users will reach just 35.6% that year, the lowest of any country or group of countries tracked by eMarketer in the area. Argentina will lead by this metric throughout the forecast period, rising from 48.3% to 50.3% between 2015 and 2019.
Meanwhile, Brazil will be home to roughly a third of all digital buyers in the region in 2015. That share will remain stable through 2019, when 49.7 million consumers will purchase digitally from the South American giant.
Though Argentina, Brazil and Mexico often take the ecommerce spotlight in Latin America, it is worth noting that the rest of countries in the region will contribute a combined 45.3 million digital buyers—a 41.2% share—to the total this year. In all likelihood, a majority of that group comes from Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela—the next four largest Latin America markets by population and GDP.
Chile, Colombia and Peru are also the three most advanced second-tier digital markets in Latin America in terms of internet and mobile uptake, even surpassing their tier one cousins in some categories when compared by penetration rates instead of absolute terms. So it should come as no surprise that the group including digital buyers in these three countries will reach 64.8 million in 2019—more than the digital buyer bases of Argentina and Brazil combined that year.
eMarketer estimates the value of digital purchases made from countries in the “other” group in Latin America will expand from $16.92 billion in 2015 to $28.99 billion in 2019. That means their share of retail ecommerce purchases in the region will actually drop from 35.7% to 34.2% during the same period, something that should be expected given that purchases through digital means tend to be smaller in the early stages of adoption.
eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.
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