BRICS: big markets for e-commerce

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are large e-commerce markets, but their adoption varies, according to a report by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The proportion of online shoppers among Internet users varies from around 20% in India and South Africa to 40% in Brazil and the Russian Federation, and 75% in China.

The business-to-customer (B2C) e-commerce segment has grown, with an estimated valuation of $1.37 trillion in China (2021), $85.4 billion in India (2021), $42.6 billion in the Russian Federation (2021), $39.3 billion in Brazil (2021), and $7.3 billion in South Africa (2021).

These figures are industry estimates, as official statistics are not available.

Brazil’s B2C e-commerce sales in 2019 grew 7.6% over 2018 and accounted for 1.1% of national GDP.

The pandemic accelerated e-commerce adoption, as 7.3 million Brazilian users shopped online for the first time, and online sales grew 47% in the first half of 2020.

Food, personal care, cosmetics, furniture and electronics are some of the most popular e-commerce shopping categories.


According to ITC, the top e-commerce platforms in Brazil are Magalu, Casas Bahia, Mercado Libre, Americanas.com and Amazonare.

In 2021, Amazon recorded revenues of $2.6 billion, while Casas Bahai generated revenues of $2.4 billion.

Magalu became the largest e-commerce operator in Brazil, with revenues of $3.3 billion in 2021.

These three e-commerce platforms collectively accounted for 30% of online sales in Brazil.

Given the sheer size of the country across diverse geographies, some e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Mercado Libre are investing in logistics infrastructure.

Mercado Libre controls around 85% of its logistics network, enabling shorter delivery times for a wider range of products.

The Russian Federation’s e-commerce retail market was estimated at $30 billion in 2021, according to e-commerceDB.

The largest platforms were Wildberries, Ozon, AliExpress, Russiam, MVideo and DNS-Shop.

The most popular e-commerce market segments are electronics and appliances, fashion, furniture and appliances, food and personal care.

India and China

India’s e-commerce retail market was estimated at $61.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $120 billion by 2025.

Major e-commerce players include Amazon India, Flipkart (owned by Walmart) and JioMart.

Popular e-commerce market segments include consumer electronics, apparel, food and jewelry. It is estimated that mobile commerce accounts for 49% of all e-commerce transactions, and companies are adapting to this trend.

China has one of the largest online retail markets in the world, with estimated sales of $1.8 trillion in 2020, according to the Ministry of Commerce report.

Mobile commerce dominates the market, with $873 billion of the total.

Alibaba, JD.com and Pinduoduo are among the largest e-commerce companies in China.

ITC highlights that Chinese cross-border e-commerce imports represent major business opportunities, including for companies from other BRICS countries.

Some 42% of Chinese online shoppers have purchased goods or services from abroad, and cross-border sales made up 58% of China’s e-commerce markets in 2019, according to a J.P. Morgan study. Another report suggests that 158 million online shoppers in China bought foreign products in 2020.

South Africa

South Africa’s B2C e-commerce market recorded sales of $5 billion in 2021. The largest player in the South African e-commerce market is Takealot, with revenues of $602 million, followed by Superbalist, with $85 million, and Woolworths.


Redacción Opportimes