by Victoria Arguello
BUENOS AIRES, April 2 (Xinhua) -- E-commerce in Argentina has grown at a fast clip, with sales to date reaching 156.3 billion pesos (about 7.8 billion U.S. dollars), said Diego Urfeig, executive director of the Argentine Chamber of E-Commerce (CACE) on Monday.
"E-commerce has been growing at a rapid rate, regardless of the economic situation," Urfeig told Xinhua in an interview.
Today, some 18.3 million people in the South American country shop online, with an estimated five out of 10 Argentines having made an online purchase in the past six months, said the expert.
"Argentina could become a country where e-commerce succeeds in garnering high investment," said Urfeig.
The nation's annual growth rate of online sales transactions amounted to 52 percent in 2017 and is on the rise, according to a CACE report last year.
Figures show that nine out of 10 Argentine adults with internet access "have made an online purchase," and half of them are "repeat (online) shoppers," he said.
In 2017, as many as 263,000 products were bought online here every day, which totaled 96 million goods for the entire year.
Urfeig said the growth is mainly driven by two factors, that is, the availability of new categories of products and the expansion of "mobile commerce," or m-commerce, which refers to online sales transactions that use wireless electronic devices such as hand-held computers or cellphones.
"We are beginning to see that consumers are increasingly open and buy more categories, and the ones that are growing the most are apparel, articles for the home, furniture, decoration, food and beverages, which today are in the top 10 categories with the biggest sales," said the director.
Currently, more and more Argentines are buying goods online simply using a mobile phone, though it represents only 20 percent of the total sales for now.
The best-selling category in e-commerce for Argentines is travel and tourism-related activity, which accounts for 28 percent of total sales, or 43.6 billion pesos (about 2.1 billion dollars).
Cellphones and audio and video equipment fell into the second biggest online sales category, followed by sports apparel, household goods, food, beverages and cleaning supplies.
The favorite payment method used by the Argentines is the credit card, accounting for 92 percent of all sales, with 44 percent of purchased items directly delivered to the customer's door. It's convenient and time-saving, said Urfeig.
One of the major challenges facing Argentina to develop e-commerce is to revolutionize logistics, said the expert.
"In logistical terms, there has been a lot of progress in recent years. Logistics companies have improved and manufacturers have integrated better with them. But there is still a long way to go," said Urfeig, who sees China as a role model.
Argentina has a lot to learn from China, said the CACE head. "I think of the possibility of accessing the Chinese market via the platforms such as Alibaba."
It is important for Argentine producers to get acquainted with these platforms and to make the most of the Chinese market, he added.
Argentina has great export potential that could be tapped by e-commerce to reach new markets, especially for high value-added products such as wine and gourmet food, said Urfeig.