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How COVID-19 has changed digital consumption in four of the largest Latin American countries

EBANX's survey with international e-commerce customers in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile, shows that, more than ever, Latin America is connected and eager to consume online

In 2020 marked by the COVID-19 pandemic that drove economic havoc worldwide, e-commerce was bold. In Latin America, e-commerce is expected to grow 8.49% – even amid a drop in travel industry spending – and reach $200 billion in market value, becoming the second fastest-growing market in the globe. The region stands out as one that values localized communication, tailored payment strategies that consider and value local payment methods, and services that do not take cultural differences across its countries for granted. 

These are the findings of the latest Beyond Borders 2020/2021 study, released on Tuesday by the fintech company EBANX, owner of LABS. The Brazil-based unicorn held a survey with international e-commerce customers in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile, which shows that, more than ever, Latin America is connected and eager to consume online.

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The survey was held online between November 2nd and November 15th, 2020, among Latin Americans who buy from international online merchants. 3,280 people responded to it, being the majority from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile.

Brazilians still prefer boleto for international purchases 

In Brazil, EBANX’s survey points out that 68% of respondents said they prefer to pay their purchases on international websites using boleto (a type of cash voucher or bank slip through which Brazilians pay their bills and make purchases) and more than half (56%) of them pay this boleto through a bank app; the percentage of people who print it and go to a lottery store, market, bank agency, or other authorized place that can process boleto payments, is still relevant: 33%.

Credit card is pointed out as the second most preferred payment method for international e-commerce purchases by Brazilians’ respondents (54%), and payments with installments continue to be an important option for those who have a credit card. The main reason for adopting this option is the lower amount to be paid per month, according to 89% of respondents. 

Source: EBANX’s Beyond Borders 2020/2021 Survey

Many responses show the growth of smartphone penetration as a way of accessing the internet and payment options, adapted to the culture of Brazilians who still pay via boleto. It reinforces the importance of communication and localized payment methods to reach Brazilian users and increase their purchasing power, according to the survey. 

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Source: EBANX’s Beyond Borders 2020/2021 Survey

In Mexico, the majority of the respondents prefer to shop on international websites

EBANX also highlights that Mexicans are the only people among the countries surveyed who are most likely to shop on international websites (51%) than on national ones. Retail is dominant when it comes to international e-commerce, which is reflected in the most trusted international brands in the country, a ranking that has three retail giants among the top five: SHEIN leading the way, followed by Amazon in second, and Wish in fourth place, after streaming giant Netflix

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Source: EBANX’s Beyond Borders 2020/2021 Survey

And on the logistics side of things, while other countries have greater tolerance when it comes to delivery time, 50% of Mexicans say that they accept to wait up to 15 days for an international parcel to arrive, while in Brazil 40% of the respondents say they could wait one month to receive it.

Source: EBANX’s Beyond Borders 2020/2021 Survey

More than 80% of the population made purchases on smartphone apps in the last six months, and 36% bought from 2 to 10 times via mobile in the period. 

Streaming services have a high penetration in Colombia’s market

Colombians made it clear at the 2020/2021 survey that they have a particular preference when it comes to the type of products and services they seek from international digital commerce players. According to the survey, almost 80% of users already subscribe to a streaming service, which reflects directly on the most recognized brands – it is the only country among the surveyed ones in which the top five are almost all digital service brands, and the first three positions being of music and movie streaming services: Spotify in the first position (tied with Amazon), Netflix in second, Prime Video in third, and Uber in fourth, followed by AliExpress

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Source: EBANX’s Beyond Borders 2020/2021 Survey

While Mexicans pointed out as the preferred payment method for international purchases the credit card (55%), followed by PSE, a kind of bank transfer (46%), according to the survey, Colombia was the only one of the surveyed countries in which bank transfer is quoted among the first three preferred payment options. The third preferred payment method for international purchases on e-commerce is the debit card, according to the Colombian respondents, which also attest to the increasing digitization of the population.

47% of the Chilean respondents purchase on international websites at least once a month

The Chilean respondents stand out at Beyond Borders 2020/2021 survey for some behaviors related to consumption of fashion and home decor items on international e-commerce. The most recognized brand in the country, according to the survey, was SHEIN, a Chinese fashion retail giant.

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The way of buying, however, is what Chileans say that most differentiates them from all other countries in the region, starting with frequency: almost half (47%) of Chilean consumers say that they make purchases on international websites at least once a month. Also, purchases through smartphones have shown very high adherence in recent months: more than 80% of Chileans have used an app to make international purchases after the pandemic started, and this should increase the participation of this type of purchase in the country.

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Digitization and financial inclusion in Chile are even more evident when we look at payments: 80% of people say that they use credit cards to pay on international websites, and 38% mention they use debit cards for this kind of shopping.

Source: EBANX’s Beyond Borders 2020/2021 Survey