Local Insights: Brazil

March 19, 2015

This is the penultimate post in our Local Insights series, where we give you the low-down on expanding your e-commerce business internationally. We’ve already covered Germany, the US, Australia & New Zealand and the UK, but there’s still time to catch up if you’re thinking of selling in these countries.

This week we’re looking at the Brazilian market, one of the most dynamic and potentially lucrative e-commerce markets out there. E-commerce in Brazil soared from $8 billion in 2010 to almost $20 billion in 2014, with the market expected to exceed 180 million buyers over the next few years (an incredible 70% growth rate). This is a strong case indeed for online retailers to start or scale up their e-commerce activities here.

Mighty Marketplaces

One way to access Brazilian online consumers is to list your products as available for export abroad on Amazon and eBay and provide postage prices. Brazil is Amazon’s largest foreign market, according to the Internet Retailer’s 2014 edition of the ‘Latin America 500’.

If you list your items directly on eBay.com, they’re likely to appear higher in search results from buyers that access eBay.com. That’s because the US site detects visitors from Brazil and shows listings from merchants willing to ship there. EBay has been adding customers in Latin America at an incredible pace, including more than 1 million new Latin American consumers who shopped on eBay in English with US dollars in 2013.

Delivery Matters

Our advice when expanding to Brazil is to expand incrementally with lighter, higher-margin products to start with and test out various options. Although the infrastructure is improving, there are still some challenges when delivering to this region. Recent research from McKinsey identifies that logistics and delivery remain subpar in Brazil. This makes it essential to find a reputable logistics partner that’s familiar with fulfillment in this environment.

Forrester, in association with E-commerce Brazil, discovered that returns rates in Brazil are low, at 4%, compared with 12% for the US. So there’s less of a culture of returns purchased remotely. But this may change over time as retailers promote their returns policies, and a watertight returns policy could be another unique selling point.

Processing Payments

Fragmentation in payment processing is another challenge for e-commerce businesses in Brazil. Data from PayPal shows that credit cards handled 81% of all e-commerce transactions in Brazil in 2013. Other payment methods, including PayPal, are growing quickly. But card fraud is an issue in Brazil, and many Brazilians are used to paying in installments. If you can, offering credit terms could give you a competitive advantage in the region.

Get Social

Brazilians are incredibly socially absorbed online, with the average minutes per visit on social media in Brazil is larger than the five major global regions. Facebook is particularly big in Brazil, with 68% of Brazilians going on Facebook. Additionally, 30% of Facebook users in Brazil “Like” retailers, compared with 12% in the UK. It should pay, therefore, to ramp up your presence on social media and use it as an opportunity to connect with Brazilian consumers. Brazil also has especially high mobile phone penetration. Almost 75% of consumers use them to go online, and mobile payments are expected to be a key driver in the future.


Think you have something unique to offer the Brazilian market? Rather than simply listing on the home country marketplaces (with the option to ship internationally) you could start listing directly on MercardoLivre, MercadoLibre’s marketplaces in Brazil.

MercadoLibre dominates e-commerce in Latin America. Brazil accounts for 48% of the company’s sales, attracting 25.2 million unique visitors from the country in 2013. And 40% of payment transactions are completed on MercardoPago, the marketplace’s online payment tool. Merchants that choose to use this service benefit from fraud protection, which is why it may be worthwhile accepting the program’s fees in Brazil.


The confusing tax structure (taxes on imports vary from 30% to 120%) and still-developing delivery systems make Brazil a challenge to break into. But it’s one that may well be worth it, given the market opportunities.


For more in-depth information about cross-border trade, download part our Agile Cross-Border Trade eBook. Next week is our last installment in this Local Tips series — we’ll look at e-commerce tiger China, so don’t forget to check back in.

agile part 3 thumb (1)Looking for more tips to successfully expand internationally? These tools will help you cross borders with confidence!