The recent turmoil in Chile highlights some of the challenges the country faces in 2020 and beyond, and we covered these challenges in a recent article and in our 2020 Major Markets Forecast for Latin America.
But—as is occurring in a number of Latin American countries—e-commerce remains a bright spot in the Chilean economy.
According to the Cámara de Comercio de Santiago (Santiago Chamber of Commerce or CCS as per the Spanish-language acronym), e-commerce sales in Chile in 2018 exceeded US$5 billion. The CCS expects e-commerce to grow by 40% in Chile in 2019 to reach US$7 billion. Results thus far in 2019 support this figure: by Q3 2019 e-commerce sales in Chile totaled US$4.5 billion.
At Americas Market Intelligence (AMI), we use a different methodology than the CCS to calculate market size, working in all merchant verticals, PC, mobile and in-app purchases, crossborder e-commerce transactions using a locally issued card and all card-not-present transactions, such as recurring payments. As such, AMI analysis indicates that in 2018, the e-commerce market in Chile produced more than US$8 billion in sales.
According to AMI analysis, the e-commerce market in Chile will grow by 140% between 2018 and 2022 to reach US$18 billion.
The Best-Selling E-Commerce Products in Chile
No recent reports with 2018 or 2019 data seem to be available on which products Chileans purchase the most online. CCS reports from 2018 and 2019 do not appear to rank product purchases in terms of orders or overall sales volume.
A 2019 CCS report did list the percentage of users in Chile that bought different types of product categories:
- Clothing (51%)
- Entertainment (50%)
- Technology (49%)
- Footwear (39%)
- Accessories and gifts (36%)
- Beauty and personal care (36%)
- Appliances (34%)
- Food (33%)
- Deliveries (33%)
- Sports (31%)
- Travel (30%)
That said, this appears to be based on survey data, i.e. asking e-commerce shoppers in Chile what they buy, which is not as accurate as using financial transaction data—this is what we at AMI use in developing our E-Commerce Datapack and for other LatAm e-commerce research projects we conduct for clients.
The Subsecretaría de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (Undersecretary of Telecommunications or SUBTEL) last reported on the top-selling e-commerce products in Chile in May 2018, using 2017 data based on surveys of Chilean shoppers. In that report, the best-selling products purchased online in Chile were:
- Clothes and accessories (41.8%)
- Audio, TV, appliances, furniture and home décor products (21.4%)
- Computer equipment (12.3%)
- Movies and music (12.2%)
- Tickets for entertainment events (11.8%)
- Video or computer games (11.2%)
- Books, magazines or newspapers (9.7%)
- Travel products (9.3%)
- Cleaning products and medicines (9%)
- Foods and beverages (7.9%)
As with the CCS data, this is a customer survey rather than true transactional data, so it may not accurately reflect what e-commerce consumers in Chile actually buy.
Main Payment Methods Used in E-Commerce in Chile
According to CCS, in 2018 the most common payment methods used for e-commerce shopping in the Santiago metropolitan area were:
- Debit card (62%)
- Credit card (54%)
- Credit card from a retailer (24%)
- Bank transfer (13%)
- Electronic payment (9%)
- Cash (8%)
- Other methods (1%)
AMI uses a different methodology for this analysis and it covers all of Chile. As per AMI the most common payment methods used for e-commerce shopping in Chile are:
- Credit cards (53%)
- Debit cards (29%)
- Cash vouchers (10%)
- Digital wallets (4%)
- Bank transfers (3%)
- Other methods (1%)
Main Devices Used for E-Commerce Purchases in Chile
The CCS estimates that 34% of e-commerce purchases in Chile in 2019 were made with a mobile device, a significant increase from the 25% of e-commerce purchases made with a mobile device in Chile in 2018.
This lines up with AMI data, which indicates that:
- 66% of e-commerce purchases in Chile in 2019 will be made with a desktop
- 34% of e-commerce purchases in Chile in 2019 will be made with mobile devices
By 2022 the percentages will shift, according to AMI projections:
- 42% of e-commerce purchases in Chile in 2022 will be made with a desktop
- 58% of e-commerce purchases in Chile in 2022 will be made with mobile devices
Customer Insights into Chilean E-Commerce Shoppers
According to CCS, some key factors to consider with Chilean e-commerce shoppers include:
- Several key factors spur e-commerce purchases among digital consumers in Chile, among them sales/promotions (#1), saving time (#2), comfort (#3), shopping at any time and from any place (#4)
- 60% of Chilean e-commerce customers prefer having items shipped vs. 40% who prefer to pick up products in stores
- In 2018 sales of food products sold via e-commerce in Chile grew by 127%, the largest growth, with tickets to events growing by 44% and travel by 24%
Chile ranks #8 in the world in terms of the percentage of its e-commerce shoppers who make cross-border purchases: 69%
- At the same time, overall, in 2018 cross-border e-commerce only made up 20% of the total of e-commerce sales in Chile
Other Factors to Consider
AMI analysis offers other important data points to consider with regard to Chilean e-commerce shopping:
- 47% of e-commerce purchases in Chile are of retail products, 40% are of travel products and 13% are of digital goods (such as Netflix subscriptions)
- Debit cards will be the payment method that grows the fastest in Chile’s e-commerce market through 2022
- Chile’s per-capita e-commerce spend is $427, the highest in Latin America
- In 2018 9.5% of retail spend in Chile came from e-commerce, the highest percentage in Latin America
#1 Our 2019 E-Commerce Datapack contains extensive data on Chile. Click here to find out how to order a copy.
#2 For more specific data, AMI specializes in research and market intelligence for the Chilean and LatAm e-commerce markets in a number of key areas:
- Identifying the major payment methods used in Chile’s e-commerce market to help merchants with strategic planning, market entry and market expansion
- Helping merchants understand the cross-border e-commerce potential in Chile and the practices that can increase cross-border sales
- Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to help e-commerce merchants focused on Chile to analyze their customer data for a deeper understanding of e-commerce shopper behavior and tendencies so as to refine their marketing tactics, messaging and consumer outreach
Contact us if your company has specific data, market research or market intelligence needs regarding the e-commerce market in Latin America or in specific markets such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru.