August 10, 2012, 2:14 PM

Diverse offerings yield success for Latin e-retailers

Mass merchants’ sales grew nearly 37% last year.

Lead Photo

Netshoes COO Graciela Tanaka

In the budding direct-to-consumer Latin American e-commerce market, mass merchandise and electronics are the biggest online merchandising categories, according to data contained in the newly published Top 300 Latin America Guide.

The collective web sales of the 50 mass merchants ranked in the Top 300 Latin America grew 36.7% to $6.04 billion in 2011 from $4.42 billion in 2010, while the combined sales of the 50 computer/electronics merchants increased 14.7% year over year to $2.55 billion from $2.22 billion.

But to appeal to online shoppers, some web retailers such as Netshoes.com operator NS2 Com Internet SA, are getting an early start in up and coming online merchandising categories such as apparel and accessories.

Netshoes has been selling online since 2000 and learned early on that consumers want a personalized experience when shopping for shoes over the web. Thanks to that know-how , this year Netshoes, No. 6 in the Top 300 Latin America Top 300 Guide, is on track to generate web sales of about $490.0 million, an increase of 30.4% from web sales of $375.8 million in 2011. The web-only merchant is growing because as e-commerce in Latin America becomes more mainstream Netshoes is finding newer and more effective ways to personalize the shoe-buying experience, says chief operations officer Graciela Tanaka. “We’ve invested heavily in e-commerce technology and hiring and training our logistics staff,” Tanaka says. “We’ve worked to make life easier for our customers”

To give Latin American consumers a more sophisticated and faster experience when shopping for shoes online,  Netshoes in 2010 relaunched all of its web stores using an e-commerce platform from Oracle Corp. that features advanced site search and rich media, personalized product recommendations, customer ratings and reviews. In 2011 Netshoes worked with Usablenet Inc. to develop a mobile commerce site that lets consumers search and buy shoes by category and other criteria and view product recommendations. In its first year the mobile commerce site posted $7.5 million in sales, or about 1.5% of total revenue. By next year Netshoes expects mobile commerce to account for about 10% of sales, the company says.  “M-commerce is a big bet for Netshoes," Tanaka says. “But we are already reaping results above expectations and we've reviewed our goals four times in less than one year.”

Going forward Latin American e-commerce will include a diversified base of retailers, a fact that’s reflected in the makeup of the Top 300 Latin America merchant types. The biggest single group of merchants was the 136 retail chains that as a group generated sales of $4.54 billion in 2011, up 27.3% from sales of $3.57 billion a year earlier. But the fastest growing merchant type was the 123 companies classified as web-only merchants. In 2011 the collective sales of all Top 300 Latin America web-only retailers totaled $5.28 billion, an increase of about 41.9% from sales of $3.72 billion in 2010.

The Top 300 Latin America is now available in three formats: print, digital and in English as part of the all-new and completely updated Top500Guide.com. Information on how to order the Top 300 Latin America is available here.

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