Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and , reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 10/24/2018
According to the Santiago Chamber of Commerce, B2C eCommerce sales reached $4 billion in 2017, representing a 30% increase compared to 2016.  Estimates for 2018 exceed $5 billion.  In the last six years, eCommerce has more than tripled in Chile, up dramatically from $1.2 billion in 2012.  This increase is a result of the country’s rapid technological infrastructure development.  Companies of all sizes are adopting eCommerce, with online sales distributed rather evenly among micro-size businesses (13%), small businesses (19%), medium firms (22%), and large companies (22%).  The remaing 24% of companies have yet to implement the necessary technology for online sales. 

Chile’s digital economy currently accounts for 3% of GDP, and by 2020, it is expected to increase to around 4.5%.  So, although Chile’s eCommerce sector has grown quickly in recent years, it still lags behind developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and the Eurozone, where the current GDP figure is between 7% and 8%, and is expected to reach 12% by 2020.

Current Market Trends
Over 15 million Chileans have access to an internet connection, mainly through mobile phones, of which 30% are online shoppers.  Currently, mobile phone technology investments are concentrated in the development of 5G, which is expected to be rolled out by 2020.  According to a recent study by Fundación Pais Digital, Transbank, and the Santiago Chamber of Commerce, online shopping in Latin America has an annual growth rate of 37%, generating new businesses, higher productivity, and opportunities.  Delivery and logistics for returns are still a challenge. 

Digital Agenda 2020 is a Chilean government program to foster the country’s digital transformation by taking advantage of advanced technologies in all aspects of the social and economic activities of the country.  Some steps include public-private alliances, investments in quality and robust infrastructure in all regions of Chile, and widespread IT use as a means to reduce inequalities.  For example, ten public WiFi hotspots were recently installed in the Municipality of Santiago, providing accesibility and connectivity for local working class residents.  The goal is to expand the public WiFi spots to 90% of Chile’s municipalities, by 2020.

Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
CyberDay is an annual three-day event in Chile to promote online shopping. The results in recent years have far exceeded business expectations, transforming it into the premier online sales event in the country, with over 260 vendors of products and services.  CyberDay 2018 generated $210 million in sales from almost 1.5 million transactions, 27% of which were done through mobile phones.  CyberDay also has other periodic sales events, such as one that was held in May 2018.

Cross-Border eCommerce
ECommerce is seen as an important tool for local exporters to enter international markets with attractive bi-lingual websites and strategic alliances with logistics companies.  For international online purchases, local customers use Alibaba for cheaper prices, although delivery time may be long and the goods may not turn out to be what expected.  Amazon represents an excellent option for local customers and now includes products sourced from Chilean companies; however, there are brands that do not ship internationally.  Still, local consumers are willing to take advantage of international online purchases looking for wider variety of products and prices.

eCommerce Intellectual Property Rights
The U.S.-Chile FTA, in place since 2004, contains a chapter on electronic commerce.  This chapter highlights the importance of eCommerce between the United States and Chile and the need to work together to overcome impediments to it.  The chapter notes the importance of sharing information related to reguations on data privacy, cyber security, and intellectual property rights.  The National Enterprise for Electronic Certification was created in 2002 by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce with the support of CORFO, the Chilean Economic Development Agency (housed within the Ministry of Economy).  EcertChile, incorporates on a regular basis products and services to provide highter levels of security and confidence to safeguard the intergrity of eCommerce transactions.

Chilean domain names (“.cl”) are assigned and registered by Nic-Chile.  Registration fees vary depending on the length of registration.  The fee for the shortest period, one year, is approximately $15 in 2018.  Foreign companies can register a domain name in Chile, but must have a local presence to do so.  The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) regulates the recording of domain names. When a conflict arises over a domain name, arbitration is required.  Registration at the trademark department, INAPI, is the main criteria for determining who has a claim to a given domain name.

Popular eCommerce Sites
Online Payment
Online payments on sites in Chile are made in the local currency (Chilean peso, CLP) via local bank transfers and credit cards from local banks.  For online purchases made in Chile from sites outside Chile, credit cards can also be used but the transactions are generally processed in U.S. dollars.

Credit cards issued outside Chile are generally not accepted on Chilean eCommerce sites.

Mobile eCommerce
In December 2017, there were 27 million mobile phones in Chile, of which 15 million had an internet connection. Approximately 30% of smartphone owners use their devices for online purchases.  Mobile companies such as Entel, Claro Chile, Movistar, and WOM plan investments to improve network connectivity to expand their local business.
For more information, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Santiago, Commercial Specialist Veronica Pinto:


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