August 8, 2013, 9:01 AM

How the fastest-growing e-retailers in Latin America are making gains

By responding to openings, large and small, some Latin America 400 merchants take off.

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They are a diverse group, but the fastest-growing merchants ranked in Internet Retailer’s newly published 2013 Latin America 400 do share a few common traits. Chief among them: the ability to attract new and repeat shoppers with good deals, lots of inventory, and effective target marketing.

The top merchant in the Latin America 400 in terms of growth, Kanui (No. 25), hit the e-commerce fast track in 2012, Last year Kanui.com.br, a web-only retailer of action sports equipment and apparel, and grew sales nearly 9000% to about $120 million.

E-commerce revenue won’t grow nearly as fast in 2013, but the company does expect sales to more than double to around $250 million, says director of marketing Felipe Sulimam. The founders of Kanui looked for a specific niche in Brazilian online retail and discovered an opportu­nity after noticing that bigger sporting goods web merchants were not carrying inventory for action sports shoppers such as skate boarders.

In Brazil, where interest in all types of sports is peaking in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Kanui connected quickly with the many consumers looking for gear, espe­cially for outdoor adventure and action sports, Sulimam says. And with more than 1.2 million Likes on Facebook, Kanui has been very savvy in using social media to promote its gear to active and sports-minded young athletes, supplying them with plenty of content on how to use skate­boards and surfboards, ride mountain bikes, and dress for the sport with the right shoes, apparel and accessories. “A big part of our success is that we are educating our visitors on how to engage in action sports and the outdoors,” Sulimam says.

Other fast-growing Latin American 400 merchants also are building a bigger e-commerce base with great deals and a broad inventory. Wal-Mart Stores launched Wal-Mart Latin America as a separate store and e-commerce organization to capitalize on the region’s growing retail sector. The effort is paying off. Wal-Mart has a network of more than 500 stores in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America and its Latin American e-commerce operation grew web sales 150% in 2012 to around $383 million.

Wal-Mart is boosting e-commerce sales in Brazil by spending on technology, logistics and customer care, says Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke. Early in 2013, Wal-Mart launched its first national branding campaign in Brazil that reached an audience of 37 million consumers, Wal-Mart says. The campaign focused on Wal-Mart’s prices, security in online shopping, variety of products, how products can be exchanged and delivery guarantees

Deploying better web technology and more targeted marketing are helping Wal-Mart grow faster online, Duke says.  “In Brazil we are making the right investments in this space to differentiate ourselves,” Wal-Mart CEO Duke told Wall Street analysts on a recent earnings call. “E-commerce sales are growing.”

More data and analysis on how U.S. web merchants are launching or expanding their e-commerce programs in markets such as Brazil is available in The 2013 Latin America 400. The research publication is available in three formats: print, digital and as part of the all-new and completely updated Top500Guide.com. Information on how to order is available here.

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