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Shopee expands in Latin America with silent launches in Chile, Colombia

Written by Tech in Asia Published on     2 mins read

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Shopee is concentrating on Brazil as its main market in Latin America, while other countries such as Mexico are part of an “asset-light” approach in the region.

Shopee, the e-commerce arm of Southeast Asian tech giant Sea Group, appears to be continuing its aggressive push into the Latin American market with the silent launches of websites in two more South American countries: Chile and Colombia.

Tech in Asia understands that the recent rollouts are part of an “asset-light” pilot program, which doesn’t involve heavy on-ground investment and focuses on the shipping of products to these countries. Shopee’s cross-border team is testing the waters in Chile and Colombia.

Sea Group declined to comment to Tech in Asia’s queries.

Earlier, in Sea Group’s Q4 2020 earnings call, the management had stated that its operations in Brazil were initiated by Shopee’s cross-border team so it can offer more markets to cross-border sellers. Since Sea’s gaming platform Garena is already present in Brazil, the company said it was generally efficient to give more value-adds to their sellers.

“However, it’s still very preliminary work for us, and we’ll continue to observe the market and let the team run with it and see how that progresses over time,” Sea’s management said in the call.

The source pointed out that Shopee is still concentrating on Brazil as its main market in Latin America, while other markets such as Mexico are part of the asset-light approach that the company is taking in the region.

Shopee entered Brazil in October 2019, initially aiming to boost the country’s cross-border business. But after a year of operations, not only did it scale up in the country, but it had also expanded to Mexico.

In just a year, Shopee’s Brazil unit went from a pilot initiative to a team of over 250. The e-commerce player had also started to work with local sellers, according to its website.

The e-commerce market in Latin America is dominated by regional companies like Argentina-based Mercado Libre. International heavyweights such as US-based Amazon and China’s Alibaba are vying for a share of the market as well.

This article was originally published by Tech in Asia. A previous version incorrectly referred to Sea Group’s Q1 2021 earnings call instead of Q4 2020 earnings call.  

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