Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.
B2C eCommerce sales reached $9.4 billion in 2020. E-commerce sales for 2021 are expected to grow a 23 percent reaching $11.6 billion. Growth has exceeded expectations from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pension funds withdrawals, and government financial stimulus. Historically, eCommerce has had a positive growth trend over the last decade due to Chile’s rapid and continuing technological infrastructure development.
Chile’s digital economy represented 3.7 percent of GDP in 2020, and this figure is expected to increase in 2021 due to the dramatic shift towards eCommerce. For example, in the first quarter of 2021 online sales had increased by 196 percent. In 2020, online retailer Mercado Libre doubled its market capitalization and inaugurated a Distribution Center, which demonstrated the huge demand that eCommerce is experiencing in Chile.
Assessment of Current Buyer Behavior in Market
According to Subtel, mobile internet penetration in Chile reached the 100 percent in the third quarter of 2020 with 19.8 million connections, primarily through smartphones. A recent joint study by We Are Social and Hootsuite highlighted that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen in the increase in demand for applications that allow the virtual interaction of activities necessary for teleworking, and software that offers virtual meetings, conferences rooms, and classes. To ease access to medicines during the pandemic, the Chilean Ministry of Health permitted the online sale of medicine, which has led to an explosive demand for prescriptions purchased online.
Food and purchase delivery services, such as Rappi, Uber Eats, and PedidosYa have experience an unexpected increase in demand due to COVID-19 sanitary restrictions. Consumer spending in food and personal care categories, as tracked in a joint study by We Are Social and Hootsuite, experienced the strongest growth of 42.5 percent. This eCommerce growth has also changed the way restaurants and retailers operate, and dark kitchens and dark stores are opening across Chile with the purpose of serving online channels with no public facing personnel. High-end consumers preference for small local entrepreneurs who generally only sell online has also incrased. According to a study by Bridge Research, COVID-19 has also influenced the purchase decisions of consumers with price and delivery accounting for 48 percent when making purchase decisions.
CyberDay is an annual three-day event in Chile to promote online shopping. The results in recent years have far exceeded business expectations, transforming the event into the premier online sales event in the country, with over 670 vendors of products and services for 2021. CyberDay 2021, which took place on May 31, generated $640 million in sales, a 57 percent increase from $368 million in sales in 2020. More than 15 million units of products and services were sold.
Local eCommerce Sales Rules & Regulations
The Chilean Government has developed Matriz Digital 2018-2022, a roadmap on national connectivity priorities. This plan seeks to reduce the technological gap in Chile to promote the development of the country. Matriz Digital has three areas of focus. First, to define and respect the rights of digital citizens; second to stimulate investment and infrastructure including the implementation of 5G; and third to promote digital development. Currently, there are free internet zones in fifteen regions of the country, providing accessibility and connectivity for local low-income residents. Users can connect for thirty minutes with the option to re-connect.
The U.S.-Chile FTA, implemented in 2004, addresses eCommerce in Chapter 15, which highlights the importance of eCommerce between the United States and Chile and the need to work together to overcome obstacles. The chapter notes the importance of sharing information related to regulations on data privacy, cyber security, and intellectual property rights.
The National Enterprise for Electronic Certification was created in 2002 by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce with the support of CORFO, the Chilean Economic Development Agency (housed within the Ministry of Economy). EcertChile, incorporates on a regular basis products and services to provide higher levels of security and confidence to safeguard the integrity of eCommerce transactions.
Chilean domain names (“.cl”) are assigned and registered by Nic-Chile. Registration fees vary depending on the length of registration. The fee for the shortest period, one year, is approximately $13. Foreign companies can register a domain name in Chile, but must have a local presence to do so. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) regulates the recording of domain names. When a conflict arises over a domain name, arbitration is required. Registration at the trademark department, INAPI, is the main criteria for determining who has a claim to a given domain name.
Local eCommerce Business Service Provider Ecosystem
Retail and supermarket stores like Falabella, Ripley, Paris, Jumbo, Lider, along with the market places such as Linio, Mercado Libre and Yapo are Chile’s top eCommerce sites. For food and purchases deliveries Cornershop, Rappi, Uber Eats, and PedidosYa are the most used platforms.
eCommerce is seen as an important tool for local exporters to enter international markets with attractive bi-lingual websites and strategic alliances with logistics companies. For international online purchases, local customers use Alibaba for cheaper prices, although delivery time may be long and the goods may not turn out to be what expected, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amazon continues to be an excellent option for local customers and now includes products sourced from Chilean companies; however, there are brands that do not ship internationally. Still, local consumers are willing to take advantage of international online purchases looking for wider variety of products and prices. Since April 2021, Amazon offers free shipping to Chile for purchases of over $49 in eligible products.
Online payments on sites in Chile are made in the local currency (Chilean peso, CLP) via local bank transfers and credit cards from local banks. Popular chilean platforms for payments are MACH, Fpay, and Mercadopago. For online purchases made in Chile from sites outside Chile, credit cards can also be used but the transactions are generally processed in U.S. dollars.
Credit cards issued outside Chile are generally not accepted on Chilean eCommerce sites.
For more information, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Santiago, Commercial Specialist Macarena Marin, Macarena.Marin@trade.gov