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The West vs. Russia: Will Russia Really Survive The Impact Of Sanctions?

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Russia trampled international laws with annexation of Crimea (previously part of Ukraine) to its territory and is reeling under wrath of sanctions imposed by the EU, the USA, Australia, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland, among others. Over a period of time, the sanctions have expanded to inflict economic damage to Russia by targeting its financial, energy, and military sectors. Even though the ball has always been in Russia’s court, the country has only deepened the damage by retaliating with food embargos and standing adamant on its decision to hold on to Crimea against Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The sanctions are intended to limit trading relationships with Russia, which in turn have adversely affected both the EU and the USA. The economic impact is more intensive on the EU member countries and Russia, as they were engaged in high volume and value trading relationship.

Understanding the Sanctions Imposed on Russia

Russia’s economy is suffering under the contracting GDP, growing inflation, capital flight, as well as Ruble depreciation. Economic turbulence has been further intensified with plunge in global oil prices — as Russia’s is one of the world’s largest oil producers, with oil and gas exports accounting for 70% of its export income.

How Are Sanctions Savaging The Russian Economy

The sanctions also had a crumbling effect on the Western companies operating in Russia. Several luxury and consumer goods companies had previously flocked into Moscow to capture the growing middle class market, however, Russia lost its attractiveness and image to being a ‘malignant country’ post Crimea annexation. After the sanctions were imposed, several consumer goods companies shut down their operations — Zara, a Spanish fashion brand, closed flagship store in Moscow in 2014. Wendy’s (an American international fast food restaurant chain), Esprit (China-based clothing brand), and River Island (British fashion shop) are also planning to end their operations in Russia. Consumer spending and retail sales reflect the economic sanctions with retail sales falling 7.7% y-o-y in February 2015.

Western Companies Hit Worst By Russian Crisis

In August 2014, Russia devised a strategy to retaliate against Western countries by banning agricultural import of certain products from the USA, the EU, Canada, Australia, and Norway. Presently, the Russian government is encouraging domestic production to reduce reliance on imports. However, it will take at least five years, if not more, before import substitution starts yielding real impact on domestic food availability and the Russian economy.

Food Embargo Imposed by Russia and Its Impact


EOS Perspective

There is no doubt that sanctions along with falling oil prices have damaged Russian economy. Decline in oil prices strained the availability of domestic liquidity, which could normally be compensated with foreign debt market borrowings. However, borrowing has been prohibited by the ban on Western debt and credit, which intensified the situation and put crushing pressure on the Russian economy.

It is expected that the sanctions are not going to be lifted any time soon, which is projected to bring absence of foreign loans, which in turn is likely to be paired by significantly reduced of foreign investment. This could be a major challenge for Russia, as the FDI tends to be one of the key sources of capital and technologies in emerging nations. With this isolation, Russia might not be able to keep the necessary pace of growth due to lack of capital and limited trading relationships.

Under the pressure of sanctions, Russia can be expected to undergo a transformation to rebalance its economy — with Western companies exiting Russia, their place could be taken by Asian counterparts or domestic companies. For instance, in October 2014, Russia signed 40 agreements with China spanning energy, financial, and technology sectors. Further, Chinese banks agreed to offer credit lines valued at US$ 4.5 billion to Russian banks and companies. These recent agreements clearly show that Russia has been seeking to deepen its strategic ties with Middle Kingdom, intending to improve trade between the two countries to double it to US$ 200 billion by 2016 end.

Sanctions are likely to continue to deeply impact Russia’s key choices in its internal policies as well as the international arena, with expected focus to increase domestic production and choosing Asian allies over Western partners to establish trading relationships.

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Central Asia – A Region of Uneven Growth and Investment Potential

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Although all Central Asian countries have been performing well on the overall economic growth front over the past several years, this good performance cannot be assumed to imply an investment growth (especially FDI-related growth)registered by all these countries. Despite government efforts and certain industries playing a critical role in bolstering growth of each Central Asian economy, various factors are standing in the way for these countries to realize their full growth and investment potential. Frequently, FDI-driven investment is hindered by unfavorable government policies, among other reasons. Central Asia remains a region of uneven development, with a need for a holistic approach to boost both economic and investment growth.

Projected to record a positive GDP CAGR in medium term with the aid of governments’ initiatives to boost both growth and investment, Central Asia’s economic progress can be characterized as unique in nature. Unlike in most cases where a country’s overall prosperity goes hand-in-hand with, say, FDI growth (such as in case of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan), Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are gearing towards around 10% GDP CAGR during 2013-2020 with negative FDI growth rates recorded in the period of 2010-2013 (which can be attributed to factors such as restrictive visa regime and constrained access to foreign currency).

While certain industries such as oil and gas, construction, and agriculture are playing an important role in driving Central Asian economies’ growth and investments, weakening Russian economy, among other challenges, is expected to have an adverse effect on the overall growth in the region.

Growth and Investment

GDP and FDI Growth



Key Government Initiatives to Boost Growth and Investment
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Chief Industries Driving Growth and Investment in Central Asia Region
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While these Central Asian countries show good growth and investment performance, aided by government initiatives to propel development and selected industries that continue to fuel economy growth, still an unequal growth and investment potential prevails in Central Asian countries.

Uneven Growth and Investment Potential in Central Asia Region
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Growth Challenges and Proposed Solutions
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EOS Perspective

To remain competitive in the global market, Central Asian countries will be required to overcome, or at least considerably minimize the growth hurdles. All of these countries rely on Russia in varying degrees, thus deteriorating Russian economy is likely to have an adverse effect on these countries in different ways, e.g. as inflated poverty rates primarily due to reduced remittances. Since Russia’s growth projections are almost negligible in short term, it might make sense for these countries to strengthen their trade relationship with the Eurozone countries which have started to experience nascent recovery.

Cases of Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan (equipped with the maximum investment potential and minimum growth potential) and Turkmenistan (holding the minimum investment potential and maximum growth potential), indicate the fact that the region has an uneven growth and investment potential. In order to reduce the level of unevenness, reforms which encourage investment driven growth need to be implemented. It is of utmost importance for Central Asian countries to make their economies resilient (to a larger extent) to prevailing harmful extrinsic factors as well as to overcome intrinsic challenges. Also, it would be beneficial if the countries created a more suitable environment for private sector growth, improve quality of workforce, promote inclusive growth through better access to finance for SMEs, and create a dynamic non-oil tradable sector to diversify economies.

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Local Sourcing – It’s The New Global Sourcing

Not long ago, the buzz term for the automotive world was global sourcing. OEMs aimed to standardise product offerings and pricing by producing in select emerging countries that offered low production costs. This rendered the supply chain long and complex, but equally justified in the name of cost saving. Recently, however, global sourcing seems to be on the reverse gear, with local sourcing gaining momentum among OEMs globally.

Localisation brings cost-savings across the supply chain, especially in light of climbing costs in traditionally low-cost regions. According to a study by BCG, manufacturing costs in previously low cost sourcing locations like China, Latin America and Eastern Europe that for many years attracted global vehicle manufacturers, are reaching parity with manufacturing costs in developed countries, once productivity, energy prices and currency conversions are factored in.

To continue reading, please go to the original article on Automotive World.

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Russia’s Energy Economy Sanctioned

A host of countries are of the view that Russia is intentionally trying to destabilize Ukraine by allowing infiltration of arms and ammunitions to support Ukraine’s separatist groups. These countries also believe that Russia desires Ukraine to be a part of the newly formed Eurasian Union and be in its circle of influence. This is pinching more to the western group of countries because they, on the other hand, want to integrate Ukraine with the West and make it a member of NATO. Conflicting interests have resulted in the infliction of sanctions from both sides, Russia being the bigger victim.

In order to dilute Russia’s efforts towards annexing Ukraine, western countries imposed sanctions on Russia which initially followed a route of barring entry of people close to the Russian leadership and blocking their assets in those countries, but this strategy proved futile. The result was a series of new sanctions aimed at Russia’s various sectors in an attempt to further pressurize the country by slowing down its economic growth and deteriorating its investment atmosphere.

Russia's Exports

The latest series of sanctions (those released in July and September 2014) were articulated to weaken Russia’s economy by mainly influencing oil production and its exports (in 2013, exports constituted 28.4% of Russia’s nominal GDP, of which oil and natural gas exports had a share of 68%).

Major Russian energy giants such as Rosneft (integrated oil company majorly owned by the Government of Russia), Transneft (world’s largest oil pipeline company), Lukoil (Russia’s second largest oil company), and Gazprom Neft (fourth largest oil producer in Russia) were directly brought under the purview of sanctions.

The ‘energy sanctions’ prohibit western companies to share energy technologies and invest capital in any Russian offshore oil-drilling projects based out of the Arctic regions, Russian Black Sea, and western Siberia’s onshore. In addition to technology constraint, western companies are debarred from financing Russia’s key state-owned banks for more than 90 days in order to build up financial pressure on Russian energy companies indirectly.


Rosneft and ExxonMobil’s Discovery of Oil at the Universitetskaya-1 Well

One of the major projects under the Rosneft and ExxonMobil partnership was to discover oil and gas reserves in Kara and Black Seas through a joint venture established in 2012. The two companies had also agreed on other projects such as an attempt to conquer the Arctic region’s oil and gas reserves through establishment of the Arctic Research and Design Center for Continental Shelf Development (2013), understand feasibility of developing a LNG facility in Russia (2013), and a pilot project for tight oil reserves development in the shale basin of Western Siberia (end of 2013). Talking about some hard cash involved in research and development activities, Rosneft invested US$250 million while ExxonMobil gambled US$200 million.

In September 2014, the two companies announced their success at discovering oil at the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Kara Sea which became Russia’s second offshore Arctic project. This discovery was a big finding and they initiated drilling activities quickly through the West Alpha rig (originally owned by Seadrill subsidiary of North Atlantic Drilling but under a contract with ExxonMobil till July 2016). Till this time, the partners were under the assumption that they won’t be affected by western sanctions imposed on Russia but to their disappointment, the new sanctions restrained ExxonMobil to cooperate (restricted energy technology transfer) with Rosneft on this project any further. To their dismay, drilling came to a halt in October 2014 as Rosneft could not utilize ExxonMobil’s West Alpha rig.

Rosneft is presently on a lookout for a new rig managed by companies located in the East, China, or South Korea. An attempt to find a new rig and then adjust it at the Kara Sea’s well site is going to be a enormous task and expected to delay things at least till mid-2016. Meanwhile, China (through Honghua Group, for instance) is strengthening its chances of getting positioned as a substitute provider of energy sector technology to Russia, but it is doubtful if it will be able to match the capabilities of western companies. It will be a humongous challenge for Rosneft to find a rig provider which has the expertise to ensure safety operations in such a tough part of the world.

The objective of recent western sanctions appears to not only limit present oil production but harm the future of Russia’s energy sector. 90% of current oil production in Russia comes from conventional oil fields such as West Siberian brownfields which do not require highly advanced western energy technologies, but the problem is that these fields are depleting rapidly. Russia, therefore, faces an urgent need of finding new oil sources to retain its position of being one of the main players in the world’s energy sector (3rd largest crude oil producer – 10.44 million bbl/day, 2013; 2nd largest crude oil exporter – 4.72 million bbl/day, 2013; 2nd largest natural gas producer – 669.7 billion cu m, 2013; largest natural gas exporter – 196 billion cu m, 2013).

Delay of the Rosneft project is slowly fading Russia’s aspirations of increasing oil output as tapping of Universitetskaya well’s oil reserves (estimated to be up to 9 billion barrels) could have added approximately US$900 billion to the government coffer over the next 10-12 years. Similar projects might have led to discovery of new oil reservoirs in the Kara Sea where oil reserves are estimated to be around 13 billion tons (way more than Gulf of Mexico’s and Saudi Arabia’s independent reserves). As per Merrill Lynch, Russia might lose US$500 billion of direct investment and US$26-65 billion of budget revenue during the next 10 years, as energy investors from other parts of the world also become uncertain of Russia’s economic stability.

If western sanctions remain at this level, it would make it difficult for Russia to discover and exploit oil resources in areas like Arctic, as it is primarily western companies (BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, etc.) which have the required expertise and technology to do so. Since the Russian energy sector almost single-handedly drives the country’s economy through exports, impact of the western sanctions, which is already impacting various facets of Russian economy, will be felt heavily in the long-term.

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Mongolia – Mining in China’s Backyard

MongoliaMining

Mongolia, uninteresting and perhaps almost forgotten to the rest of the world until just recently, has turned out to become of the world’s largest untapped mining centers. The country houses minerals worth over US$ 1 trillion, thanks to which it has the potential to become one of the most prosperous economies in the East. We take a closer look at Mongolia’s potential, its background, most relevant advantages, and challenges that continue to put a brake on the country’s development. Read Our Detailed Report.

 

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E-commerce in Russia – Strong Impact of Consumer Culture

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Part II of our E-commerce Challenges in the BRIC series brings us to Russia, a market with significant growth opportunities which are impacted by customer’s traditional retail perceptions and infrastructure woes.

With a share of only 1.9% held by online sales in total retail sales, it would appear that Russian e-commerce market is almost irrelevant. However, the strong growth dynamics promising an average annual growth rate of 35% and a market size of US$36 billion by 2015, give a good context of the scale of opportunities. International online retailers are increasingly eyeing the Russian market with a view of capturing the growing e-commerce consumer base; however, some of the global giants, such as eBay or Amazon, still lag behind strong local competitors, such as Ozon.ru.

Opportunities are many, considering that already in 2011, Russia overtook Germany to become the market with the highest number of internet users, as well as the fact that it is Russia that prides the highest per capita income amongst all BRIC countries (with per capita income at PPP of US$17,700, compared with Brazil’s US$12,200, India’s US$3,900, and China’s US$9,100). However, as many e-commerce entities operating in this market have already discovered, Russian market is challenged by its own set of issues that hold back the market to expand even faster.

Russia e-commerce

The Challenges

  • Inadequate infrastructure – similar to many other developing countries with vast territories, Russia has by far insufficient and inadequate infrastructure, a fact that negatively affects delivery times, safety of cargo, and generally prevents the e-commerce market from developing to its full potential. Russia’s major transportation method is railway and road. With insufficient and outdated rail infrastructure, as well as bad or non-existent road network, paired with long distances required to cover in this large country, deliveries outside metropolises such as Moscow or Saint Petersburg often take a week to reach the online shopper. Also, on the online retailer side, delivering orders to customers across this huge country, particularly without a reliable national post system, generates significant costs and considerable time issues. Several larger players that have sufficient financial resources at hand need to invest in building own delivery networks and infrastructure wherever possible, as such services are not commonly available due to lack of specialized, reliable third party providers. This is, however, often impossible for smaller players or newcomers to the market, as it requires substantial investment.

  • Try-it shopping attitude – Russian shoppers often like to treat online shopping as ‘try-at-home’ service. They order many products, try them out at home, with the assumption that they might keep just few or even none of them. This requires online retailers to be rather flexible with product return options, and create process that allow for quick and efficient dealing with rejected products and cash refunds. This shopping attitude also results in retailers having relatively high inventory level, as well as devoting considerable time and resources to deal with orders that will eventually not generate revenue for them, as it is estimated that one in four deliveries of online purchases in Russia is refused and returned by the customer. Further, the infrastructure problems and lack of reliable public postal system clash with the try-it shopping attitude, as it makes it difficult for online customers to return purchased products, making them hesitant to shop online.

  • Cash payment shopping culture – credit and debit cards are not widely used by Russian shoppers, on the back of distrust towards safety of advance online payments and honesty of online retailers, as well as requirement for special card authorization before a purchase (online payment cannot be completed within a few clicks). This has led to high dominance of cash-on-delivery payment, which currently accounts for about 80% of online sales of products such as clothes, shoes, and electronics. Online retailers must cater to this demand, which requires them to finance product delivery while receiving payment later, leading to problems with cash flow and returns/rejects. Further, online retailers often incur additional costs of employing own team of cash couriers. While the use of debit and credit cards will increase, the process will be rather slow and long, as apart from developing reliable and safe online payment systems, a considerable cultural change to cash-oriented mindset in customers must occur.

  • Strong local competition – this is a challenge for newcomers to the Russian e-commerce market, especially foreign players. While it is still in early stages of development, there are several strong and successful local players (e.g. Ozon.ru, KupiVIP, Lamoda, Utkonos, Svyaznoy, X5, Wildberries.ru), who know how to navigate through nuances of online retail in the country, and enjoy strong, often loyal customer base. Ozon.ro is the unquestionable market leader, with grounded position, large customer base, own logistics arm, and wide offering, resulting in its extremely good performance (revenue hike of 91% in H1 2012 to US$232 million, expected to reach US$1 billion in 2014). Local competitive landscape is also infused with a number of smaller retailers that focus on narrower product categories, providing broad offering with a given category, e.g. consumer electronics provider Citilink or car spare parts store Exist.ru.

  • Consumer nationalist inclinations demanding localization – while many Russians appreciate foreign trends, there is a strong sense of nationalism that makes Russian shoppers less accepting and more likely to reject foreign influences and brands, if they do not localize their offering and do not provide fully Russian-language experience. This might pose a challenge for foreign e-commerce entities, expecting to transplant their business and operating models directly to the Russian market.

 

Russia’s e-commerce market is heavily influenced by customer mindsets and attitudes, which are still based on traditional shopping experiences, thus acting as hindrance to the pace of online retail growth. Inadequate and inefficient infrastructure has also played its part in creating challenges that result in cost and operational losses to existing players, and scares new entrants from investing in this space.

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E-commerce in Brazil – Marred By Political and Social Influences – read the first part of our E-commerce Challenges in the BRIC series.

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Strike On Syria – Potential Impact On Emerging And Frontier Markets

Though there is still uncertainty of the US military action on Syria, global markets seem to have already given an indication of what could be in store if it actually happens. Crude oil prices rallied in the last week of August amid indication of strike, followed by a fall in oil futures, as the fear of imminent action receded. In another instance, share markets showed signs of panic due to a false alarm regarding missile attack on Syria (which eventually turned out to be an Israeli missile testing exercise).

The possible US strike on Syria has implications for global economy, and specifically for emerging economies, which are experiencing economic slowdown. The situation could be a tough test for countries such as India and Indonesia, as both of them struggle to keep trade-deficit under control, and are under the watch of credit rating agencies. For countries such as Brazil and Mexico, the US action may lead to delayed economic recovery. For Russia, being one of the largest oil producers, political implications are more than the economic one in case of a unilateral US action (i.e. without UN backing) on Syria.

While a sense of uncertainty and urgency prevail globally, we take a look at what potential impact the strike might have on select emerging and frontier markets.

Strike on Syria - Impact on Emerging Economies

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E-commerce in Brazil – Marred By Political and Social Influences

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The opportunities for e-commerce offered by several emerging countries, such as the BRIC, has been analyzed at length, and quite rightfully so, given their expanding economies, growing middle class, soaring disposable incomes, paired with higher internet and mobile penetration. While the opportunities coming from these transformations are plentiful, e-commerce markets in the BRIC countries also face serious challenges to their development, some of them common across all four countries, some unique to single markets.

We explore these challenges in a four-part series to understand the major roadblocks influencing growth of the e-commerce industries across Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Brazilian consumers are still relatively new to e-commerce, with current propensity to shop online often compared with the penetration rate witnessed in the US market in 2000-2001. This might seem like a small market, however, the e-commerce growth in Brazil is strong, estimated at 21% during the first half of 2012. According to AT Kearney, Brazil’s 80 million Internet users spend about US$10.6 billion online annually, the largest online spending across Latin American markets. Brazilians are expected to spend US$18.7 billion per year by 2017. These might be modest estimates, considering that eMarketer, a digital marketing portal, already forecasts that retail e-commerce sales in Brazil will grow by 14.8% in 2013, to reach US$13.26 billion. While the market appears to be poised for a very promising growth period, several challenges will continue to put a break on sudden growth.

Brazil e-commerce

The Challenges

  • Troublesome and bureaucratic procedures to set up and run e-commerce business – these structural problems make it difficult for local and foreign players to enter the e-commerce market (or set up a business entity in Brazil in general). Burdensome regulations and procedures mean that it might take even 6 months to establish an e-commerce entity. Further, while operating, the entities are often challenged by frequent litigations and lawsuits over variety of issues (e.g. the domain used). Even with no litigations, Brazil has a generally paperwork-heavy business environment, and this is particularly challenging in a relatively new industry such as e-commerce. All these difficulties have led to Brazil being placed at 130 (out of 150) rank in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business in 2013 (behind countries such as Ethiopia, Yemen, Uganda, or Pakistan).

  • Inadequate e-commerce regulations – while setting up a business appears overly bureaucratic and regulated, several aspects of e-commerce operations are under-regulated, affecting clarity and smoothness of operation as well as consumer trust. Legislation is slowly, yet gradually being introduced, e.g. only in mid-2013, a seemingly basic and obvious requirement was introduced for e-commerce entities to clearly and visibly display their registration numbers, contact details, purchase terms and conditions, and customer’s rights. While this step is likely to help build customer trust, it covers just a tip of regulations necessary in the market.

  • Inadequate infrastructure affecting order delivery – the country’s weak and immature infrastructure has a negative impact on orders shipping. Brazil is a country with vast territory, and majority of transportation is done by road. The country’s road infrastructure (both city streets and highways) are in poor condition, many of them unpaved, affecting safety, delivery time as well as damaging the cargo and trucks. Overall, receiving a delivery package by a customer located outside of major Brazilian cities stretches to a week at a minimum, with frequent cases of customer complaints about packages not arriving within two weeks or more.

  • Underdeveloped shipping and delivery services – while delivery services are available, many of them are provided by small, often family owned companies, that have limited coverage area and lack parcel tracking systems, thus there is generally inadequate availability of reliable courier services. The government-owned national post, (Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telegrafosand), does not commonly offer parcel tracking options, inviting fraud, and is considered unreliable and slow.

  • High taxes and complicated tax structure – issues with taxes are often placed amongst top challenges of e-commerce in Brazil. Taxes are high and numerous, which significantly increases overall costs – duties, taxes and fees can double the original price of a product, and can vary considerably depending on product category. Payroll taxes in business innovation sectors reach even 80%. It is estimated that on average, business owners and executives spend 30% of money and 50% of time on dealing with tax-related issues. Further, complex tax structure drives added costs for lawyers and accountants compensation in order to navigate through various issues with the tax regulators and facilitating tax differences between Brazilian states (as there is no uniform tax across the country).

  • Insufficient talent availability – Brazil’s expanding e-commerce market creates jobs that are difficult to fill, given the shortage of qualified workers, people with e-commerce experience or at least an understanding what a particular e-commerce job entails, e.g. e-commerce web designers, experienced IT and business process professionals or high-quality, competent customer service specialists. The lack of good customer service acts as a deterrent to customer base growth, as according to McKinsey’s Consumer and Shopper Insights from July 2012, Brazilian shoppers who no longer shopped online listed previous bad experience with customer service amongst key reasons for turning away from online purchases.

  • Online payment security concerns – the lack of trust amongst Brazilian consumers towards safety of online purchases and transactions, deters many of them from buying online and using internet banking in general. Therefore, the predominant payment option that is currently used and preferred by customers is the ‘boleto bancario’, a code receipt that is generated on the website during the purchase, printed by the online shopper and later taken physically to a bank or a post office where the payment for the purchase is made. On the one hand it allows to satisfy consumers concerns about payment safety and to tackle the issue of many users not having credit cards or internet-purchases enabled debit cards. On the other hand, however, it is contrary to the very concept of shopping online (i.e. without the need to physically go to the shop), and extends the entire process of completing the purchase. Further, in order for e-commerce entity to offer ‘boleto bancario’, it should be led by a Brazilian citizen or at least in partnership with a Brazilian citizen. While foreigners can fulfil prerequisites of offering ‘boleto bancario’, the process of filling those requirements is lengthy and difficult, especially when compared with PayPal functioning in several other markets.

  • Installments shopping culture – Brazilian customers are used to, and hence expect payment options that allow for multiple and no-interest instalments or delayed payment options, resulting in e-commerce entities requiring higher working capital to finance purchases while the customers’ payments for current purchases are received after several weeks. Further, bank involvement to handle the instalments increases costs for online retailers, since bank receives a commission (which is not paid by customers as their instalments are zero-interest).

  • Language barrier – while this challenge might not be of particular relevance to domestic start-ups, international online retailers find it demanding that the entire e-commerce experience must be provided in Portuguese, and that having previous experience in Spanish-speaking market does not automatically make it easy in Portuguese, as these are two different languages (though western parts of the country have considerable base of Spanish-speaking consumers). This pertains to everything from language used on the online store interface, entire customer service, as well as the fact that many local IT and programming specialist speak only Portuguese (with extremely limited English), making it difficult for foreign start-ups to simply copy their experience and solutions to the Brazilian market.

While there are several challenges that currently undermine the growth potential of e-commerce in Brazil, the gradual changes in regulatory environment, customer service and improvement in infrastructure should positively influence the demand for e-commerce services in the future.

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