eCommerce Localization For Latin America: Join The Second Fastest Growing Market

We all know the Spanish Language as a global language with the vastest community residing in Latin America. More than just being a widely spoken language, Spanish also has a fast-growing online community, having increased by no less than 1,511 percent between 2000 and 2020.10 Brazil, the largest Portuguese-speaking community, has been reigning over the eCommerce market, but other communities are increasingly joining the digital race in the Hispanic online markets

Let us expand on how you can best introduce your eCommerce platform into the Latin American market, and which aspects you should keep in mind for a full and effective localization strategy.

The Latin American eCommerce Market: Second Only To Asia-Pacific (APAC)

eCommerce has nestled comfortably in Latin America and Hispanic online markets are only showing signs of expanding further with promising markets popping up in recent years. Latin American countries currently hold a digital buyer community of 270 million, which is projected to grow over 30 percent by 2024.11 Brazil and Mexico have been key players in the eCommerce market holding 32.5 percent and 28.8 percent of the market share respectively.12 However, the nations of Colombia, Peru and Argentina are revolutionizing their digital presence and will contribute greatly to Latin America’s market share in the years to come.

Lindsay Lehr, Associate Managing Director at Americas Market Intelligence, adds that this steady increase comfortably places Latin America as the world’s second fastest-growing eCommerce market just behind South-East Asia.13With digital trends and connectivity on the rise, retail behavior in Latin America is transforming the way consumers interact with online merchants and the expectations they set.

Latin America’s eCommerce Trends

Booming Mobile Market

Latin America’s mobile penetration is steadily increasing as digital access has become a norm. With mobile phone penetration hovering around 70 percent now, this rate is projected to rise to over 73 percent by 2025.14 Similarly, the number of unique mobile subscribers is expected to expand from 429 to 486 million within the next 5 years.15

These numbers combined the global mobile commerce all set to grow 68 percent by 2022,16Mobile apps and your eCommerce platform’s mobile-friendliness have never been more important. Make sure you prioritize this when localizing your eCommerce platform for Latin America. Additionally, make sure that you can rely on a language Service Provider (LSP) where the linguistic but also the technical parts are respected. Mobile Apps and websites need more than people’s own language, they need to run smoothly, look good, and make the buyer journey easy and straightforward.

Pro Tip! Mobile App localization can greatly boost your market potential when done right. Check out our app localization best practices from beginning to end, and also get an insight into which qualities define a reliable LSP.

Multilingual eCommerce Platforms have their own unique translation challenges. You may be wondering which service you should use for the marketing content? And what about the User-Generated Content? Or the Product Descriptions? Have a look at our 3-part video about the 3 main eCommerce Translation Challenges and how to overcome them! Just press play and every video will play automatically!

How Do Latin Americans Pay Online?

That’s right, not only the language matters (which we will be talking about soon!), but the way you set up your payment menus as well. For your English-language site, your payment methods likely largely revolve around credit and debit cards. However, in Latin America, this might lure a large portion of your consumer-base away from the check-out menu. According to Latin American Business Stories, credit card ownership in Latin America is limited, and not all of the cards in the population possesses can be used online.17 And while the use of credit cards is on the rise, a large chunk of the population will still prefer to pay using local payment methods even when using international websites and merchants, while still keeping the credit card options available.

Not sure where to start? Here are the most popular payment methods available in Latin America:

  • While international credit cards are not a huge hit yet, there are domestic credit and debit cards in use. When processing through local acquisitions, you are set to accept all payments from domestic cards in Latin America.
  • Since the bank system hasn’t quite earned everyone’s trust yet in Latin America, and rightly so, cash payments are still very common. That is why you will benefit from setting up a voucher payment option on your website such as OXXO and Baloto. The buyer will receive a barcode that they can pay by scanning it on their phone.
  • One of the most popular payment methods to this day, are installment plans, both online and offline. In fact, 60 percent of all purchases in Brazil are still completed this way.18
  • Boost your closing rate a bit more by adding some common alternative payment methods, such as SPEI, e-wallets, and bank transfers.

In this, make sure you focus on regional differences and preferences. Every region will still prefer to pay differently and favor one of the above-mentioned options over the other. So do your research and make a unique payment menu for each nation and region according to the data you collect.

Effective Ecommerce Localization For Latin America: This Is How It’s Done

Localization services are designed to make it easy to connect with your target audience on a personal level. In a lot of ways, nothing is more personal than language.But with localization, this language includes colors, local sensitivities, body language, design, slang, and idioms.

When it comes to Spanish, there are of course outspoken differences in terminology, grammar, and expressions between European and Latin American Spanish. But even within Latin America itself, each country plays with the language in a way that is unique to them. For example, it is very common in the Spanish language to apply double meaning to everyday words. And you guessed it, each country does this differently. Similarly, Brazilian Portuguese differs from European Portuguese in tone, vocabulary, and formality, so hiring local linguists is a top priority.

Mitsubishi still takes the prize with the most famous translation blunder that cost crucial sales in the Latin American market. When trying to introduce a new car model, Mitsubishi mistakenly opted for a quick translation and launched the Pajero model. Given that Pajero carried a rather offensive connotation in some Latin American nations, they swiftly had to substitute it for the more neutral Mitsubishi Montero. This could easily have been avoided by taking the time to apply an effective localization strategy.

Let’s Get Technical. How Much Space Do Spanish And Portuguese Need?



Spanish is a language rich in syllables. What does this mean for translation? When communicating the same message in Spanish, you will need more space than you do in English. In fact, you will have to allow for text expansion up to 25 percent! Similarly, Portuguese is a long language, and you will also need more space to effectively express the same messages. When translating from English to Portuguese, it will require an expansion of up to 30 percent. Not managing text expansion effectively can lead to a compromised user experience in the way the content is displayed, but it can also cause technical errors within the Operating System of your app or website.


Which Translation Service To Choose?

eCommerce Platforms are famously diverse. With the three major content types of marketing content, informational content such as product description, and User-generated Content such as forums and reviews, you should be aware that each of these content types warrants a specialized service that exactly meets the content goals.

There are three services that are key in supporting an effective, multilingual eCommerce Platform. Machine Translation Post-Editing, Localization, and Transcreation.

Machine Translation Post Editing (MTPE) involves a translation produced by a Machine Translation Engine followed by human editing. Since MTPE is designed to match translation quality with speed, this service can be key for the content types that require fast translations, and content that pops on the site routinely and needs continuous translation. This is why MTPE can be an essential tool for multilingual Product Descriptions, customer support and client reviews.

But when it comes to your static pages and marketing materials machines should be kept far away from your strategies. Marketing materials and any content that communicates brand-specific values need 100 percent human translation in order to make that genuine connection, customers are after. This is why localization and transcreation will suit your needs best here.

Pro Tip! Mobile App localization can greatly boost your market potential when done right. Check out our app localization best practices from beginning to end, and also get an insight into which qualities define a reliable LSP.

Still, not clear which service to go for? Have a look at our handy graph where you can build your entire content strategy! For those of you looking to dig deeper into the eCommerce Localization topic along with its challenges and solutions, make sure to check out our blog on the top translation challenges faced by eCommerce platforms to get more detailed information.


eCommerce may be growing everywhere, but each and every region deserves its own unique approach. In Latin America, it is essential to respect the regional differences in language and pay equal attention to the buying habits that prevail in these same territories. With mobile penetration rising consistently, pay extra attention to the mobile-friendliness of your site, and effectively localize your mobile app.

At Laoret, we work with in-country natives who are specialized in the eCommerce Industry and bring them together in a streamlined workflow that follows the best practices and ensures Quality Assurance on every level. Our 24/7 availability ensures that we can work according to your schedule and get you ready in time to compete in the Latin American market.

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