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: 6/3/2016

Uruguay has one of the highest levels of Internet penetration in Latin America.  Data released in November 2015 shows that 85 percent of Uruguayan households had at least one computer at home and that 81 percent (of those aged twelve and above) had access to and used the Internet.  Users mainly look up topics of interest (89 percent) navigate social media (85 percent), watch videos and/or download music (71 percent), secure information on products and services (60 percent), and read news (6 percent).  Twenty-two percent of users had no e-mail accounts.

On-line purchases increased from thirty-eight percent of internet users in 2014 to sixty-two percent in 2015.  Attempts to further increase the use of e-commerce clash somewhat with a cultural reality: many Uruguayans prefer to deal face-to-face and distrust the electronic format.  There is still a certain degree of suspicion of using credit card information over the net.  Only 22 percent used this form of payment.  Forty percent met the seller personally and paid cash and 38 percent paid through bank transfers and deposits.  Nonetheless, the implementation in July 2012 of new Customs regulations that allow citizens to import duty-free up to five shipments per year (since reduced to four) up to a maximum of $200/shipment provoked a substantial jump in e-commerce imports from the United States as well as payments with credit cards.  During 2012 -- 2015, the number of packages imported increased by 45 percent.  This triggered strong criticisms from local businesses that felt a direct hit on their sales.  However, stricter government controls since December 2014, and unfavorable exchange rates have already provoked a decrease in packages imported from abroad.  

Local advertisers mention that the Internet serves as an effective means to promote  products and services, but not necessarily to close business transactions.  Companies have increased website use as a way to increase on-line sales.  Sales of computer accessories, appliances, clothing, and furniture have the lead, followed by books, hotel/restaurant reservations, and cellular phones.  

The items most frequently purchased online from overseas include:

  • Clothing and shoes
  • Videogames
  • Auto-parts
  • Sporting-goods

In most cases, these items are purchased because they are unavailable locally.  Other factors include lower prices, convenience, and the items’ novelty.  Most Government-related procedures (requesting passports, etc.) can now be done on-line. Uruguay’s 2015 Financial Inclusion Law is an attempt to encourage the use of credit cards by reducing a certain percentage of the Value Added Tax (VAT) due when using that form of payment.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Uruguay eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce