Every year, Americas Market Intelligence (AMI) publishes a new edition of its E-commerce Data Library, gauging the evolution of electronic commerce in the region. The analysis includes variants such as payment methods, cross-border trade, or purchasing devices, from angles such as market share, turnover, and annual growth rate.
This article refers to first-hand transactional data from the E-commerce Data Library 2022, following extensive research by the Americas Market Intelligence team into 17 Latin American markets.
AMI also provides detailed analysis for each market, as well as cross-country data, as needed. You can visit this link for more information.
In this article:
- Volume of E-Commerce in Latin America 2022
- E-commerce and Its Local Impact in Latin America
- Verticals with the Highest Projected Online Sales between 2022 and 2025
- E-commerce Penetration of Total Retail Sales in Latin America
- Most Used Payment Methods for Online Purchases in Latin America
- The Latin America E-commerce Data Library
Volume of E-Commerce in Latin America 2022
The pandemic sped up the adoption of digital purchases, which remained steady during 2021, and will continue to do so in the coming years. AMI forecasts sustained annual growth of 25% through 2025. “Many businesses around the region are even reporting growth upward of 100% in their e-commerce sales. These rates are fairly aggressive in our experience,” says Lindsay Lehr, head of Payments Practice at Americas Market Intelligence.
It is worth noting that, of the 17 markets analyzed by the AMI team, Guatemala and Nicaragua have the highest forecast growth in e-commerce, with an annual average of 40% between 2021 and 2025. The most mature markets like Brazil and Chile show a modest 20–25% increase in e-commerce volume for the same period.
“In 2022, small Latin American economies are at the start of an e-commerce wave similar to that of the most mature markets at the beginning of the pandemic. This is a really important point, considering e-commerce is people’s gateway into using digital payments more broadly,” says Lehr.
E-commerce and Its Local Impact in Latin America
As Lehr explains, it is impossible to talk about the success of e-commerce without framing it in the context of each country locally. Because of this, Americas Market Intelligence has put together a new methodology for calculating per capita e-commerce consumption in each market. “This new approach correlates with two important data points: penetration of digitization and online banking, and per capita GDP,” says Lehr.
Accordingly, the AMI payments team established the year-round e-commerce consumption per capita (2022 data), as shown in the bar chart below. The data suggest high penetration in digitization and banking in Chile and Brazil, where annual per capita e-commerce spending is US$975 and US$920, respectively. Panama and Costa Rica show surprising potential that had not been seen up to now. Lastly, in markets like Mexico and Colombia, annual per capita e-commerce spending remains close to the regional average.
In addition, AMI’s new methodology allows us to calculate e-commerce purchases as a percentage of total private consumption. In other words, what percentage of the total monthly or annual spending per person was used in online purchases. In Brazil, the percentage of e-commerce consumption versus total expenses (per person) is 17%, the highest in Latin America.
Verticals with the Highest Projected Online Sales between 2022 and 2025
The Americas Market Intelligence team evaluates the e-commerce market in different verticals to cover the broad regional context. “E-commerce is dynamic and constantly evolving. We recently decided to measure sales in delivery and transportation apps compared to digital goods overall, after observing unique and substantial growth. We have an ‘other services’ vertical that includes sales by way of commissions, taxes, licenses, education, and others. If we observe growth in a particular subcategory that warrants a new separation, we won’t hesitate to make it,” Lehr says.
According to AMI transactional data, the travel and tourism sector is the vertical with the highest e-commerce growth in Latin America. In 2021, travel and tourism accounted for US$37 billion in e-commerce, a figure that is expected to triple by 2025, with average annual growth of 30%. However, AMI forecasts that retail sales will continue to account for nearly half of e-commerce sales in the region.
It should be noted that, according to the AMI team’s findings, the gaming and gambling sector, as well as the online gaming sector are two prominent verticals within the segment of e-commerce digital goods purchases.
E-commerce Penetration of Total Retail Sales in Latin America
When we talk about e-commerce penetration of total retail sales in Latin America, Colombia and Chile stand out with a 19% penetration rate. E-commerce penetration in Brazil and Mexico—perceived as the region’s most mature markets in terms of turnover—is 17% and 11%, respectively. Regional average e-commerce penetration is 15%, a significant increase compared to the pre-pandemic level of 9%.
For Lindsay Lehr, impact opportunities still exist for small and medium-sized businesses looking to sell online. Currently, the bulk of e-commerce sales are concentrated among a few players. In Mexico, for example, 66% of online retail sales are made by just five players, including Amazon, Mercado Libre, and Walmart. The scenario is similar in Brazil, where retailers like Magalu and Americanas (along with three other players) make 51% of online sales.
Most Used Payment Methods for Online Purchases in Latin America
This year, the Americas Market Intelligence team has observed the greatest ever disruption in e-commerce payment methods. Credit cards will continue to be the leading payment method in 2022 (with a 53% share in countries like Brazil), but that share is already declining as methods such as Buy Now Pay Later, Pix and digital wallets make inroads.
Pix in Brazil, just two years on from its launch, is “the most disruptive method of the last 10 years.” AMI forecasts that Pix will cover 23% of 2022 e-commerce sales in Brazil.
In Colombia, bank transfers will have a higher share than credit cards (38% and 34%, respectively, by the end of 2022) in terms of e-commerce retail purchases. The PSE button is consolidating as Colombia’s most widely used payment gateway. In Mexico, credit cards will have a 43% share in 2022, followed by debit cards with 30%.
Initially, businesses only offered online payments through credit cards, so as the adoption of electronic commerce became more widespread in the region, the share of credit cards increased accordingly. But in 2022—and this is historic—the share of credit cards decreased. We expect this to continue over the coming years. AMI forecasts that, by 2025, alternative payment methods such as wallets and bank transfers will reach an e-commerce turnover of US$138 billion.
Payments Practice Leader
Americas Market Intelligence (AMI)
What is the Latin America E-Commerce Data Library
The Latin America E-commerce Data Library is a compendium of transactional data obtained by Americas Market Intelligence on e-commerce and digitization in 17 Latin American markets.
Our report uses data from primary and secondary sources, and is entirely universal, as it includes data on retail, travel, transportation and delivery apps, digital goods and services, as well as all the payment methods for e-commerce, including cards, wallets, bank transfers, and cash. It also shows the domestic volume of e-commerce compared to the cross-border volume, which allows companies wishing to expand in Latin America to measure their growth potential. You can buy the standard report of the Latin America E-commerce Data Library for a specific market or for all 17 markets. Alternatively, you can buy a report tailored to your needs, with comparable data between economies and interactive graphics.