Latin America is a diverse group of twenty countries, ranging from relatively large and well-developed nations like Brazil and Mexico, to some of the world’s most unstable and impoverished countries such as Haiti and Venezuela. Despite the differences, most of Latin America has a lot in common including long shared borders, the Spanish language and Catholicism.
Online retail sales in Latin America are around $70 billion annually, representing only 4.4% of total retail sales. This is lower than almost all other major countries and regions worldwide. In the US, for example, online retail accounts for 11.3% of total retail sales.
But the region is modernizing quickly. Approximately 267 million people in Latin America have access to the internet and have shopped online, making up 45% of the overall population. This is expected to increase to 350 million by 2024, and ecommerce sales are sure to grow rapidly alongside.
Brazil is the largest ecommerce market in Latin America, with 32.5% of sales. In fact, Brazil is the largest country in the region by almost every measure, topping the tables for population, GDP and land area. It is also the only country in the region where Portuguese is the official language.
So in Latin America, Brazil is the outlier and exception in many ways. The ecommerce industry is split along similar lines.
The largest online marketplaces in Latin America
|#||Type||Name||Region/Country||Product Category||Latam Visits/month|
|1||Mercado Libre||Latin America||General||642.0M|
|13||Privalia||Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Spain||Fashion||3.9M|
Mercado Libre is the largest online marketplace in Latin America, with 642 million visits per month. It is one of only two pure-play online marketplaces on the list. The much smaller Linio marketplace is the only other that does not sell products in its own right.
Three large ecommerce groups dominate the rest of the table. Brazil’s B2W group owns #2 Americanas, #5 Submarino and #10 Shoptime. Via Varejo, also a Brazilian company, has #4 Casas Bahia, #8 Extra and #11 Pontofrio. Finally, GFG from Singapore owns #6 Dafiti, #14 Kanui and #15 Tricae. All of these websites are retailers with marketplaces, and focus almost exclusively on Brazil. Only Dafiti has significant traffic from other countries.
Amazon is third on the list, due to its operations in Mexico and Brazil. This makes it a significant player in Latin American ecommerce, but not on the scale of Mercado Libre which has more than five times Amazon’s traffic.
The list is completed by Brazilian sporting goods retailer and marketplace Netshoes, Spanish-language marketplace Linio, global flash-sale website Wish, and European fashion retailer Privalia.
Mercado Libre in Latin America
|#||Country||Visits/month||% of Total|
Mercado Libre (Mercado Livre in Brazil) was founded in Argentina in 1999, following the eBay marketplace model that inspired many ecommerce companies around the world at that time. eBay itself owned a stake in the company from 2001 until 2016.
Today, Mercado Libre has 642 million visits per month from 18 countries across Latin America. Brazil contributes 39% of those visitors, followed by Argentina with 22% and Mexico with 18%. It remains a pure-play online marketplace with no retail sales of its own.
However, Mercado Libre has launched complementary businesses including:
- Mercado Pago for online payments, offline payments and loans
- Mercado Ads for advertising (formerly Mercado Publicado)
- Mercado Shops for independent ecommerce stores
- Mercado Envíos for shipping and fulfillment
Mercado Libre has over 11,000 employees across seven offices in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay. Its shares have been listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange in the US since 2007.
Mercado Libre is one of three marketplaces that began as eBay clones and have come to dominate ecommerce in their respective markets, along with Allegro in Poland and Trade Me in New Zealand. But it has proved to be more adaptable and successful than eBay, and grown to be the largest by far of these three marketplaces.
Businesses in the US and around the world can sell on Mercado Libre through its Cross-Border Trade Program, to shoppers in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile. The program allows sellers to ship direct, or through Mercado Envíos, or using a partnered fulfillment warehouse in the US. An automatic translation tool can be used and prices are set in US dollars so are not affected by currency fluctuations. Listing is free and commission fees are 17.5% for Mexico and 16% for all other countries.
B2W Group in Brazil
|#||Country||Visits/month||% of Total|
B2W group is the online retail division of Brazilian retail chain Lojas Americanas. It operates three ecommerce websites each with a third-party marketplace: Submarino, Americanas and Shoptime.
Americanas and Submarino were founded in 1999 and merged in 2006 to create B2W, having acquired Shoptime in 2005. Americanas is the largest site, with 134 million monthly visitors. Submarino has 33 million visitors per month and Shoptime has 14 million.
Americanas sells the widest range of products, with a subsite for business buyers called Americanas Empresas. Submarino is focused on a younger audience, offering technology, fashion and sports products. Shoptime sells home, beauty and personal care products.
The online marketplace was added first to Submarino in 2013, then rolled out to Americanas and Shoptime in 2014. Total marketplace GMV reached $2 billion in 2019, representing 62% of sales. The number of sellers has grown rapidly, with 47 million now selling on the platform.
As a unified platform, businesses can sign up to sell on all three sites through B2W Marketplace. Sellers must be registered companies in Brazil. Registration and listing is free, and a 16% commission fee is charged on the total order value including shipping. B2W has its own fulfillment program, similar to Amazon FBA.
Note that visitors from outside Brazil are blocked from visiting Submarino, Americanas and Shoptime directly, but the B2W marketplace website is accessible.
Amazon in Latin America
|#||Country||Visits/month||% of Total|
Amazon is the third-largest online marketplace in Latin America, behind Mercado Libre and B2W group, with 63 million visits per month in Mexico and 54 million visits per month in Brazil. However, this represents only 2% of Amazon’s total global traffic, well behind its dominant position in the US and Europe.
The Amazon marketplace launched in Mexico in 2015, and in Brazil in 2017. Amazon had a presence in both countries before then, but only sold digital products. As with other countries, Amazon’s strategy in Latin America includes the construction of fulfillment centers and rollout of the Prime membership program.
Amazon Mexico is part of the North American unified account system along with the US and Canada. This means that sellers registered on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca can sell on Amazon Mexico with their existing account. Sellers can ship direct to Mexico using FedEx, DHL, or UPS, or use FBA in Mexico, although this requires a local business to act as the importer of record.
Amazon Brazil has its own registration system, and is only open to sellers based in Brazil. International companies who wish to sell their products on Amazon Brazil will need to find a domestic partner.
Via Varejo Group in Brazil
|#||Country||Visits/month||% of Total|
The second-largest ecommerce group in Brazil is Via Varejo. It has many similarities with B2W Group, as a large Brazilian retail chain with over 1000 physical stores across the country. It also operates three ecommerce businesses with third-party marketplaces: Casas Bahia, Extra and Pontofrio.
All three sites sell a wide range of products, but with a particular focus on computing, electronics and home appliances. Casas Bahia has 36 million visitors per month, Extra has 17 million monthly visits and Pontofrio has 14 million visits per month.
The Via Varejo marketplace platform was launched in 2013, and spans all three websites. Total marketplace GMV for 2019 was $288 million, making up 26.7% of the group’s total ecommerce sales.
As a single platform, businesses can join the Via Varejo marketplace in one place then sell on all three sites. Sellers must be companies registered in Brazil. There is no monthly subscription or listing fee, but a variable commission fee is charged depending on the product category. Several different Brazilian ecommerce software providers have integrations with Via Varejo, for listing, order management and shipping cost calculation.
Other online marketplaces in Latin America
Global Fashion Group, an international network of fashion websites including lamoda in Russia, The Iconic in Australia and Zalora in Southeast Asia, has a significant presence in Latin America with Dafiti, Kanui and Tricae.
Dafiti is the largest of these, with a total of 30.4 million monthly visits from Latin America, spread across Brazil (57%), Argentina (17%), Colombia (17%) and Chile (9%). Dafiti sells a full range of fashion, sports and home products. Kanui is focused on sports and outdoors, and Tricae sells children’s fashion. These two are exclusively Brazilian and each have around 2.5 million visits per month. Each of these three sites has its own marketplace application process, which is only open to Brazilian companies.
Netshoes sells sports shoes, clothing and equipment in Brazil, and has 22.5 million monthly visits. It began in 2000 as a single retail store, moving online in 2002 and later closing its physical stores in 2007. It has sponsored many sports teams and events in Brazil, and was acquired by retail chain Magazine Luiza in 2019. The Netshoes marketplace is only open to companies registered in Brazil.
Linio is the only website on this list (other than Mercado Libre) that is a pure-play marketplace and not a retailer in its own right. Linio has a total of 15 million visits per month from Colombia (30%), Chile (23%), Mexico (20%), Peru (19%) and Argentina (6%). As an exclusively Spanish-language site, it has no presence in Brazil. Linio does not sell any products through its website in Argentina, linking to sister company Falabella instead.
Linio provides an English-language seller interface and English-speaking seller support team, and encourages international sellers to sell on its marketplace. It provides content creation and translation services and all marketing and customer communication is handled centrally.
Wish is a global marketplace best known for “fast fashion” and other low-cost impulse purchases, mainly shipped directly from China. Wish has a wide geographical spread of buyers, with approximately 9% of its traffic – 10 million visits per month – coming from Brazil.
Privalia is a fashion retailer and marketplace with the unusual distinction of selling in southern Europe and Latin America. It has six million visits per month, 32% of which are from Italy, 28% from Brazil, 27% from Spain and 12% from Mexico. It has a flash sale model and is owned by French online retailer Veepee.
About the data
This article covers online marketplaces (either pure-play marketplaces or retailers with a third-party marketplace) with more than 2.5 million monthly visits from within Latin America, based on data from SimilarWeb. A global list of online marketplaces, based on the same data, is available in The World’s Top Online Marketplaces.
We have excluded online retailers whose marketplace forms a very small part of their overall business, as well as marketplaces with a consumer-to-consumer model, and marketplaces with a very narrow product niche.
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Online Marketplaces in Latin America: Mercado Libre the Clear Leader