Colombia’s online discount coupon industry experienced 100,000 monthly transactions with annual sales figures of approximately $50 million (close to 90 billion pesos) in 2011, recently published figures show.
The online discount industry – which until 2010 did not exist in Colombia – now represents one of the fastest growing sectors within the e-commerce market. This reflects developments in Latin America as a whole, where one in ten internet users are estimated to have visited coupon sites in 2011.
Of the ten companies which now exist in this field, the three largest – Groupon, Québuenacompra and Groupalia-PezUrbano – have three million registered users in total. Each coupon has an average purchase value of $75.000 and those in the beauty sector are the most popular, where regular users are estimated to purchase 2-3 such offers every three months.
Omar Calvo, the manager of Groupon, whose site introduced online deals, or “ofertas” to Colombia and remains the largest such company in the country, believes online coupons will have much to offer Colombian business. “With these deals, our partners are not devaluing their services, but rather have access to another form of advertising. This is particularly important for small- and medium-sized businesses that do not have access to the mass media,” Calvo told Colombia Reports.
These developments are part of a wider trend in e-commerce growth in Colombia. According to a survey conducted by TendenciasDigitales, an estimated 47% of Colombian internet users (133,909 people) shopped online in 2011, with the number projected to increase to 179,087 by December 2012.
Many factors suggest Colombia will continue to grow strongly as an online market. Between 2000 and 2011, Colombia has witnessed a growth of some 2,267% in its online population, with its online penetration rate of 50% higher than both Mexico’s (35%) and Brazil’s (37%). 90% of Colombian internet users research products online before buying, while the average user makes 233 online searches, nearly double the worldwide average of 129.
The impact on business has been profound. Albert Pardo, the president of the Colombian Chamber of Electronic Commerce, has stated that “according to estimates, in 2011 $ 1.2 billion (more than € 892 million) in goods and services were sold in the country via the Internet.”
This is projected to increase. By the end of 2012, “more than $2 billion (nearly €1.49 billion) will have been spent in Colombia shopping online. That is to say, 100% more than last year.”