Overview and Current Trends
The Brazilian e-Commerce segment ended 2016 with US$13.4 billion (R$43b using a R$3.21 exchange rate) in earnings, an increase of 7.4 percent compared to 2015. Despite the current economic scenario in Brazil, projected growth is still positive at 12 percent, and is projected to reach US$15.1 billion (R$48.5b) in 2017. In Brazil, 48 million consumers made at least one virtual purchase in 2016, representing an increase of 22 percent compared to 2015.
The Brazilian eCommerce Market
With nearly 122 million Internet users as of 2016 according to the International Telecommunication Union, Brazil is the largest Internet market in Latin America and the fourth largest Internet market in the world in number of Internet users. According to Statista, the Internet penetration rate is forecast to grow to about 61 percent in 2021, up from about 56.8 percent in 2016. Monthly Internet usage in Brazil amounted to 25.7 hours per user in 2016; in comparison, the Latin American average is 18.6 hours.
The popularization of mobile broadband is another key growth factor. Cheaper smartphones have connected people from the lower to lower–middle classes (“C” and “D” socio-economic classes) to the Internet, thus allowing these consumers to order online. In 2016, 55 percent of the views on e-Commerce websites were done through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, representing an increase of over 30 percent compared from previous year. However, it is important to note that only 21.5 percent of the purchases were actually made on a mobile device.
The average e-Commerce purchase (average cart price) in Brazil for 2016 was US$126.3 (R$417), 8 percent higher than the previous year. This number is projected to reach US$137 (R$452) in 2017. It is also estimated that the number of purchases will increase 3.5 percent in 2017, and will reach a total of 110 million purchases made online. The increase in sales in virtual stores in the country is due to new consumption habits of the population. The migration of purchases from physical retail to electronic commerce is a factor that will continue to contribute to increased sales. We estimate that in 2017 e-Commerce sales will account for approximately 4.3 percent of retail sales in Brazil, compared to 3.8 percent in 2016.
The most profitable industry sectors for online shopping include electronic appliances, computers, electronics, fashion, cosmetics, household appliances, and home decoration. Fashion is a particularly interesting category, due to the widely held belief that Brazilians need to try on clothes before purchasing.
Penetration of eCommerce
Geography plays a major role when evaluating the country’s market potential. Consumers in the southeast region of the country account for 72.1 percent of online purchases, which reflects Brazil’s concentration of wealth and education. The southern region accounts for 11.3 percent, northeast 9.3 percent, center 5.2 percent, and north 2.1 percent. U.S. firms should take this into account when assessing potential partnerships and working with consultants and online service providers. The majority of e-Commerce firms are based in Brazil’s business capital São Paulo.
The one factor enabling the development of the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector is the “long-tail” effect, which allows a wider product offering in niche areas compared to that found in physical storefronts. Surveys held in other countries, for example, indicate that online stores’ inventories are 6 to 23 times larger than those of physical stores. Retailers are taking advantage of U.S. selling techniques to increase purchases. For example, Brazilian stores (both physical and online) offer Black Friday discounts. Black Friday (2016) in Brazil, generated e-Commerce sales of US$575.7 million (R$1.9bi) which broke all previous sales records for a single day. In total, 1.64 million e-consumers made at least one purchase within 24 hours of Black Friday.
According to the latest Statisa report, e-Commerce turnover in Brazil amounted to US$ 13.45 bi (R$ 44.4 bi) in 2016, up from US$ 12.5 bi (R$ 41.3 bi) in 2015.
U.S. B2C firms seeking to reach the online Brazilian consumer from their U.S. bases should proceed with caution. It is cost prohibitive and unreliable for online shoppers to purchase and import products into the country from the United States due to high import taxes. Direct sales from the United States are subject to customs and duties regulations. Although Brazil has made substantial progress in reducing traditional border trade barriers (tariffs, import licensing, etc.), rates in many areas remain high and continue to favor locally produced products.
Most Profitable Sectors for Online Shopping
The most profitable industry sectors for online shopping include electronic appliances, computers, electronics, fashion, cosmetics, household appliances, and home decoration. Fashion is a particularly interesting category, due to the widely held belief that Brazilians need to try on clothes before purchasing. There are e-Commerce sites offering pharmacy and beauty products, cleaning supplies, safety equipment, services related to travel, among others. Travel and tourism services purchased digitally within Brazil play an important role in the growth of e-Commerce. E-market analysts estimate that travel represented close to a third of the country’s total e-Commerce sales in 2015.
Brazilians tend to purchase through marketplaces and group buying websites. Brazilians also like to take advantage of online discount websites and coupons. Many middle-class consumers are aware that online prices for consumer goods and customer service policies are better than in stores.
According to PagBrasil, 90 percent of Brazilians’ online purchases are made through Brazilian payment methods, although the country’s online payments market is restricted. In addition, domestic payment solutions are more cost effective since they save the 6.38 percent IOF tax, which is applied to all international transactions. Brazilian credit cards issued by local banks are limited to payments in Brazilian Reais (hey-EYES). U.S. companies selling in Brazil need to offer ways to pay using Brazilian credit cards and be able to convert currency. Another payment method in Brazil is the Boleto Bancário (payment slip), essentially a payment receipt issued through a bank. This is most often used for Brazilians who do not have a credit card and for B2B payments because it allows companies to avoid costly wire transfer fees, according to Allpago. One of the drawbacks to Boleto is that the payment confirmation is delayed and can take up to three business days. Companies like Paypal are growing in popularity but will still take some time to be mainstream.
Payment methods are complex and varied in nature. 62 percent of online consumers used credit cards, 28 percent used Paypal, while nine percent used payment slips (Boleto). Security continues to be a concern especially regarding online fraud.
International transactions can be challenging for residents and visitors alike. While visitors have relatively few problems using credit cards at hotels and tourist venues, the same is not true for online purchases. The majority of Brazilians do not carry international credit cards. Those wishing to pay for services such as airline or movie tickets online encounter barriers, as many Brazilian websites do not accommodate international credit cards. The most commonly accepted cards in Brazil are Visa and MasterCard with chip and PIN technology.
Research published by eBit shows that in 2016 Brazilian e-consumers spent US$2.4 billion in cross-border websites, which represents an increase of 17 percent compared to 2015 and 38 percent compared to 2014. It finds that 54 percent of Brazilian buyers purchased on international websites in 2016. The research also shows that despite the devaluation of the Brazilian currency compared to the dollar in 2016, each e-consumer made 3.7 purchases in cross-border sites, while in 2015 the rate was 3.8. This could be for several possible reasons including increases of international purchases by Brazilians outside the United States. On domestic sites, the average was 2.2 purchases. The average ticket price in cross-border sites decreased 27 percent from 2014 to 2015 and remained stabled in 2016.
Studies demonstrate that four out of 10 Brazilians completed a purchase on an international website over the last year and the figures continue to grow. Chinese websites are very popular among Brazilian shoppers. According to eBit research, the top five most used international websites in order are AliExpress (45 percent of consumers), Amazon.com (40 percent), eBay (26 percent), DealExtreme (12 percent) and Apple Store (10 percent).
The top 10 leading categories in 2016 of products purchased on international websites are: electronics (34 percent), software (25 percent), fashion and accessories (24 percent), mobile/telephones (18 percent), toys and games (17 percent), cosmetics and personal care (17 percent), automotive accessories (13 percent), books (13 percent), home furnishing and decoration (12 percent), and sports and leisure products (11 percent). Twenty percent of these purchases are delivered to hotels in the United States for pick-up or at friends/family houses in the United States for later postage to Brazil and approximately 80 percent are delivered directly to Brazil.
Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.