Nearshore Americas
Latin America e-commerce

Online Shoppers in Latin America Increase by Millions: UNCTAD Study

E-commerce is growing at a phenomenal pace across Latin America, with the number of online buyers increasing by millions in Brazil alone.

As many as 7.3 million Brazilians made purchases via the internet for the first time in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the country to impose social distancing measures.

Thanks to this surge, Brazil has been ranked 62nd on the global e-commerce index prepared by the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In Argentina, the number of first-time online buyers during the pandemic was equivalent to 30% of the 2019 online shopping base, according to the report.

However, Brazil is not leading Latin America in terms of ranking. The top-performing LatAm country on the index is Costa Rica, followed by Chile.  Costa Rica rose six slots to be ranked 56th out of 152 economies, while Chile was ranked 59th.

Although Latin America is home to 9% of the world’s population, its online shoppers account for only 6%.

The biggest barrier to e-commerce in the region, particularly in the Caribbean, is unreliable postal service, the UN agency has noted in its report.

In addition, just five countries account for 92% of online shoppers, much higher than their share (72%) of the region’s population.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more urgent to ensure the countries trailing behind are able to catch up and strengthen their e-trade readiness,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division that prepares the annual index. The index, she said, underscores the need for governments to do more to ensure more people can avail themselves of e-commerce opportunities.

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Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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