A great competitive equalizer for U.S. small businesses is the emergence of cross-border eCommerce as a viable channel to increase U.S. exports. As a result, companies of all sizes are redirecting resources to move online to meet this growing demand or, in many cases, as an effort of basic business survival.
After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce continues to accelerate its steps in the digital transformation of consumers and companies. According to the 2021-2022 Ecommerce Observatory Report of the Peruvian Chamber of eCommerce (CAPECE), this industry grew 55%, accounting for a total of $9.3 billion in 2021.
Of a total of 5.2 million formally registered businesses in Peru, only 1.5% sold through an eCommerce channel before the pandemic. However, during the pandemic, companies entering the eCommerce market quadrupled, with over 6% selling online by the end of 2021. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go in digital transformation and eCommerce solutions in the Peruvian business environment. For example, only 20% of online purchases come from provinces outside Lima.
Regarding the leading segments in eCommerce in Peru in 2021, Airlines and Hotels remain at the top of the market share with 22%, followed by Homeware & Furniture with 16%, Toys, DIY, & Hobbies with 13%, Health & Beauty with 13% and Electrical Goods with 12%.
Meanwhile, the preferred payment methods for Peruvians to make online purchases are credit cards, representing 35% of the $9.3 billion of the total eCommerce market, followed by debit cards with 33% of the market, digital wallets with 22%, bank transfers with 7% and cash payments with 3%. Mobile payment applications (Venmo/PayPal) are yet to catch on, but Yape is a Latin American equivalent that is becoming ubiquitous.
A company must evaluate which payment gateway to implement if it wants to sell through its website or online store within Peru. Gateways most used by e-commerce in Peru include Culqui, Mercado Pago, PayPal, PayU, PagoEfectivo, Pay-me, and Niubiz.
Legal and Regulatory
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of eCommerce in Peru, which during just the first six months of the emergency advanced the equivalent of the previous five years of development. Hence, it was necessary to propose an improvement to the Consumer Protection and Defense Code to regulate the figure of eCommerce. There are no guidelines that regulate online consumer relations. The Peruvian Institute for Consumer Defense, INDECOPI, has presented a proposal to establish a minimum standard of compliance in transactions carried out through digital channels and guarantee the safety and health of consumers against the possible entry of risky products into the market, and encourage the resolution of controversies between companies and consumers. This proposal from INDECOPI and which is still in the evaluation stage must be approved and implemented through a law approved by the Peruvian Congress.
The Peruvian government has established a special task force, E-Gob Peru, focused on online payments managed by the Secretaría de Gobierno y Transformación Digital (SEGDI). This office is developing Gov2Citizens solutions for tax payments and providing information on customs and foreign trade and Gov2Gov transactions to reduce expenses within different agencies. Operational services include a citizen ID service portal and business assistance services for small and medium-sized companies. Additionally, the Peruvian government is implementing an Electronic Procurement System (SEACE: Sistema Electrónico de Adquisiciones y Contrataciones del Estado) to improve the transparency and efficiency of government purchasing.
There have been advances in the provision of digital services by several Peruvian government institutions, including the tax collection agency, SUNAT, the public registry, SUNARP, and the Peruvian state-owned bank, Banco de la Nación (which handles the Treasury accounts). Additionally, the National Elections Bureau, ONPE, is testing electronic voting.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have had to adapt to new processes for purchasing products and services. More companies are offering eCommerce because, even though shopping centers are back to capacity, Peruvian consumers are looking for comfort and ease when shopping. The main reasons consumers prefer online stores are: free delivery, coupons or discounts, recommendations from other buyers, and simple return policies. eCommerce has become an indispensable tool for small, medium, and large companies.
A recent report from CAPECE notes that Peru has lower smartphone utilization for e-commerce purchases among the main economies in Latin America. However, mobile eCommerce purchases were 59% of total eCommerce purchases in 2021. Furthermore, the same study noted that 62% of Peruvians regularly connected to the internet through 34.2 million smartphones in Peru.
Digital Marketing & Social Media
Currently, the main means of digital marketing in Peru are:
- networking sites
- engine optimization (SEO)
- (banners) in search engines.
In 2021, 52% of online shoppers reached vendor sites through social networking sites, with Facebook as the preferred online platform for shopping, followed by Instagram. However, this percentage has recently decreased as local companies are implementing eCommerce solutions and tools to formalize their businesses by offering purchase guarantees, terms and conditions of sale, a complaint book, and guaranteed delivery. According to recent surveys, the leading retail companies are already developing and implementing mobile marketing strategies.
Since 2012, the Lima Chamber of Commerce has promoted “Cyber Monday,” the Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. The Lima Chamber of Commerce also promotes “CyberMami,” held on Peruvian Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May. Some companies, like Saga Falabella, a large retailer, also launch their seasonal offers like “Madrugo” at the arrival of a new season. In addition, tour companies offer packages and promotions with pre-determined dates around major Peruvian holidays such as the Christian Holy Week, Peruvian Independence Day in July, and the New Year’s Holiday.
Domestic eCommerce (B2C) Providers
Several domestic e-marketplaces are taking advantage of eCommerce opportunities in Peru. Some of the most popular sites are:
Mercado Libre: Online platform in Latin America for buying and selling a wide range of items. It has two types of accounts: free and paid.
OLX: Classified ad platform present in 114 countries, especially in emerging markets, which puts buyers in contact with sellers.
Linio: A platform where many different suppliers sell a wide range of products. Available in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Panama.
Falabella: Department store with a presence in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, and Brazil. Belongs to the SACI Falabella group and their main business areas are clothing, accessories, and homeware retail.
Ripley: Chilean chain of department stores, with presence in Chile, Colombia and Peru. Its main businesses are clothing, accessories, and homeware retail.
Wong: Peru’s largest supermarket chain. This website allows for ordering via internet from local and foreign-based consumers for local delivery.
For B2B eCommerce, businesses are beginning to use their own custom email domain servers to legitimize their online presence instead of using an informal personal email address (Hotmail or Gmail) to conduct business.
Intellectual Property Rights
The National Institute for the Defense of Free Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi) is responsible for protecting IPR, administers patent, trademark, and copyright registrations, and handles administrative enforcement cases.
INDECOPI’s Directorate of Distinctive Signs (DSD) initiated 96 complaints ex officio in response to the online sale of counterfeit products that could affect the safety and health of consumers. For this reason, DSD issued 511 preliminary injunctions and took down 269 virtual points of sale that offered counterfeit products. In addition, INDECOPI’s DDA continued monitoring websites that would infringe copyright and related rights through remote inspections. These sites allegedly streamed audiovisual works, stream-ripped protected content, broadcast retransmissions, and communicated sports events to the public without the rights holder’s authorization. For this reason, the DDA conducted 108 face-to-face and remote inspections to verify compliance with copyright and related rights legislation on cable operators, radio, television, and the Internet.