The global B2C cross-border e-commerce market will balloon in size to $1 trillion in 2020 from $230 billion in 2014, according to a report from global consulting firm Accenture and AliResearch. With this in mind it would appear to be Alibaba that is taking a lead in opening up new global markets.
In the report, “Cross-border B2C E-commerce Market Trends,” researchers forecast that this increasingly popular form of online shopping will see compound annual growth of 27.4 percent over the next five years. By 2020, more than 900 million people around the world will be international online shoppers, the report says, with their purchases accounting for nearly 30 percent of all global B2C transactions.
Cross-border online shopping is gaining popularity particularly in emerging markets, where consumers can find it hard to find affordable imported products in local shops. In many cases, the only alternative is shopping on websites in other countries or from marketplaces such as Alibaba Group's Tmall.com, a Chinese B2C website that hosts merchants from around the world.
While China is expected to drive much of the growth of cross-border e-commerce in coming years because of the country’s large and growing middle class AliExpress is making headway in selling goods from suppliers in China and other countries to online shoppers in Latin America.
Alibaba sells to consumers internationally through AliExpress.com, a site it launched in 2010, that sells goods in 40 categories directly to consumers in 200 countries, according to Alibaba. While Alibaba does not regularly disclose transaction volume on AliExpress.com, the company did report in advance of going public last September that the value of goods purchased on AliExpress.com exceeded $4.5 billion in the year ended June 30, 2014.
AliExpress has caught on in Russia, where Alibaba claims it’s the top e-retail site, and in Latin America. The company is now taking several steps to localize the site to better appeal to Latin American shoppers where is see good growth over the next few years.
Whilst Alibaba does not disclose its sales in Latin America web analytics company SimilarWeb estimates monthly visits from Brazil to AliExpress.com averaged 110 million during the first five months of 2015.
Delivery remains the biggest challenge for e-commerce companies in Latin America, consumers must wait anywhere from 30-40 days to receive the products after he or she placed order. While it might take one to two weeks for a parcel to arrive from China to Brazil, the time for passing through Brazilian customs and delivery inside of country could easily double this delivery time.
Why do so many Brazilians shop on AliExpress if they have to wait a month to get their orders? Providing a large product selection at much lower prices is the main draw.
To speed up delivery, Alibaba has collaborated since last year with the Brazilian postal service Correios to share parcel data. AliExpress also accepts many local payment options in the region, including OXXO in Mexico and Boleto in Brazil.
Aliexpress.com launched a Spanish-language version of its site in 2014 to boost sales and also rolled out its first country-specific site, a Portuguese-language site targeting Brazilian consumers, at pt.aliexpress.com. The site enables merchants that sell on the web shopping mall to create customized promotions, such as deals based on local holidays.
The Spanish-language AliExpress.com also has sections that highlight suppliers Alibaba has authenticated, such as those from Chile and Peru, to increase consumer confidence in shopping on AliExpress.com. Those sections also enable local merchants to sign up to become authenticated on Alibaba’s sites. Besides Chile and Peru, there are similar sections of AliExpress.com highlighting merchants from Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.