Graciana Méndez
Graciana is a Mintel Trends Analyst for the Latin America region. She has worked as a trendspotter and content writer for over 10 years, in companies like The Futures Company and JWT Intelligence.

Amazon has started selling fashion and sportswear in Brazil. It may not be surprising that the e-commerce giant took almost six years to expand clothing. Despite being Latin America’s largest market, Brazil can be a challenging place to do business, due to high taxes and complex infrastructure.

Prior to this expansion, and after five years of strictly selling books in the country, Amazon launched an electronics and appliances marketplace in 2017. With its new expansion to clothing and footwear, Amazon claims that it will offer more than 300,000 products, including high-end, plus-size, vegan, sustainable and handcrafted items, from Brazilian and international brands.

Sellers on the company’s marketplace in Brazil will also be able to sell their products in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The fact that shoppers will also receive the benefit of Amazon’s no-hassle return policy could make a big splash in Brazil as exchanging items is relatively easy, but returning them can be difficult. In fact, more than a third of Brazilian consumers say it is too difficult to exchange and or return products, according to Mintel research.

Amazon’s expansion comes at a time when eCommerce is on the rise in Brazil as more consumers opt out of physical stores. This is particularly true for those buying clothing, footwear and accessories, as more than half of Brazilian consumers say they are purchasing these items online.

With its new expansion to clothing and footwear, Amazon claims that it will offer more than 300,000 products, including high-end, plus-size, vegan, sustainable and handcrafted items, from Brazilian and international brands.

The eCommerce giant is no stranger to Latin America

We’ve seen Amazon roll out Amazon Handmade in Mexico, a division of its site open exclusively to Mexican artisans making handcrafted goods, as well as launch its first ever debit card in a bid to encourage unbanked shoppers in Mexico to buy online. The e-commerce giant has also announced Alexa and Alexa-enabled devices are coming to Mexico later this year and they will speak with a Mexican accent.

According to an article from Reuters, Amazon is also in talks with Chile’s government to store and use data generated by the country’s cutting edge telescopes. This partnership could be mutually beneficial. Amazon could leverage Chile’s astrodata to develop artificial intelligence tools, while Chile could utilize Amazon Web Services (AWS) to store the telescopes’ massive data on the cloud, eliminating the heavy lifting of managing IT. An agreement of this kind is likely to help Amazon gain traction in Latin America and expand further throughout the region.

Amazon’s global retail expansion shows no signs of slowing as some analysts suggest the eCommerce giant could account for 5% of global retail sales. We’ve seen Amazon take a number of steps to boost and streamline shopping, such as its first cashless store, Amazon Go, its pop-up stores and Dash Wand, a device that allows users to order groceries, and buy products via voice command. Its new launch in Brazil has a similar objective: making Amazon accessible to more people.

What we think

While eCommerce is definitely surging, it doesn’t mean that retail is dying. Companies that have never ventured into brick-and-mortar are doing so while others are expanding their retail presence. We’ve seen Google open its first retail flagship store in Chicago and US-based Whole Foods has announced that it will launch Amazon pop-up stores to encourage customers to try out Amazon devices and learn about services like Prime. Moreover, online start-up Casper Sleep plans to open 200 brick-and-mortar locations across the US within the next three years.

It seems that other than convenience, consumers still value the retail experience because it allows them to make more informed purchase decisions. It may still be too soon to predict whether Amazon will open brick-and-mortar stores in Brazil just like it has in China and the US. However, it won’t be surprising if the retail giant opens physical locations to let Brazilian consumers check out products and get expert advice. To stay in the game now, more than ever, retailers will need to strike a balance between online convenience and in-store experience.