Colombia is one of Latin America’s biggest economies, yet traditional e-commerce has struggled to take a hold due to complex logistics challenges such as Colombia’s mountainous geography and lack of integration with international markets. Furthermore, many consumers in Colombia are still wary of online retail platforms and until recently, payments systems did not offer any options for the unbanked.
All that began to change when Rappi entered the market. Founded in 2015 as a grocery delivery service, Rappi has gone on to raise millions of dollars from US investors such as Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz for its intuitive app that allows users to order just about anything to their doorstep.
Rappi gained millions of users in Colombia and Mexico, as its founders quickly tackled issues like delivery logistics and offline payment systems that had long stumped e-commerce companies in Latin America. Rappi deliveries offer an immediacy that has helped skeptical consumers place their trust in online commerce. Furthermore, their cash-on-delivery payments system democratized mobile and electronic purchasing in Colombia and Mexico, where credit and debit cards remain relatively rare. (more…)
Mexico has all the right ingredients for an e-commerce boom: a young, tech-savvy population, rapidly increasing Internet penetration, and access to the world’s biggest e-commerce retailers, namely Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba. In fact, Amazon and Alibaba have been vying for territory in Mexico’s e-commerce space for the past three years, betting on explosive growth.
While Mexico accounts for 12.6% of Latin America’s online purchases, only 1.6% of Mexico’s retail spending is conducted online. As Latin America’s second-largest e-commerce market, Mexico is poised for an online retail boom as Internet services reach more and more of the population.
Mexico’s strategic location close to the United States has a lot to do with this market’s growth potential. As one of three partners in the US$1.2 trillion NAFTA trade deal, Mexico is uniquely well-connected to the US and Canada, making international e-commerce much more available to the population.
Despite years of sky-high taxes on imports and challenges with online transactions, Argentina is still an important force in Latin American e-commerce. The birthplace of MercadoLibre, Latin America’s most popular e-commerce site, Argentina is the fastest-growing e-commerce market in the region, registering up to 28% yearly growth. While Argentina still comes in behind Mexico and powerhouse Brazil, its predicted market share in e-commerce is expected to grow from 8.9% to 14.6% of the region’s total sales volume by 2019. So what is driving this meteoric growth?
It’s a combination of Argentina’s young, Internet-savvy consumer base which is now being aided by President Mauricio Macri’s increased openness to cross-border commerce. Argentina is not new to the e-commerce game. Latin American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre was founded in Buenos Aires in 1999 and now operates in 16 countries, with more than 174.2 million active users in Latin America.
Federico Malek, the founder of Argentina’s second largest e-commerce provider, Avenida.com, which raised a US$30M Series C Round in 2015, also founded Wallooz, which was acquired by Groupon in 2010. Soon after leaving Groupon, Malek received funding to start Avenida.com. However, Avenida almost went under in 2016, letting off 250 staff members, until they were acquired by online marketplace Good People, which restructured the company. (more…)
I’ve written extensively about doing business in Chile, and since Argentina, the country next door, has been making a lot of noise, I decided to write up an overview of opportunities in Argentina. Argentina has the third largest economy in Latin America (after Brazil and Mexico), and the 2nd highest GDP per capita in the region in PPP terms (after Chile).
You may have heard the saying, “As rich as an Argentine,” a phrase that was coined to describe Argentina’s wealth and prosperity in the 1800s-1929. Argentina had the 4th highest GDP per capita and was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Between 1890 and 1930, the capital city of Buenos Aires transformed from a colonial town to the sprawling, mammoth of a city it still is today.
Unfortunately, the Great Depression followed all of that prosperity and then decades of political turmoil. Over the next few decades, Argentina borrowed from foreign banks and ran hefty budget deficits. In the 1970s, Argentina’s credit rating dropped so low that leaders resorted to printing more currency, leading to the Argentinian Peso’s steady decline.
Argentina next went through a period of hyperinflation and political instability which lasted until the 1990s. By the 1990s and Dot Com Bubble era, the government launched new initiatives to reopen the country, and Buenos Aires became the birthplace of some of Latin America’s most successful technology companies. A group of Argentine Internet pioneers founded companies like MercadoLibre (the eBay of Latin America) and OfficeNet (which was eventually acquired by Staples). (more…)