The 10 challenges of creating an eCommerce in Bolivia

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The 10 challenges of creating an eCommerce in Bolivia

Currently Bolivia is not a country where electronic commerce is established and is part of people’s daily lives.
Rather the opposite, eCommerce in Bolivia is taking its first steps, slowly, but steps at last.
I have decided to create this article to share the experience of starting and creating an Finland Phone Number List  eCommerce business in Bolivia, but from the heart of that business.
No theory or assumptions, but rather, the purest reality.
TuMercadazo buy online in boliviaIn October 2017 we launched TuMercadazo.com an electronic commerce platform in Bolivia together with my partners and investors. Initially, we opened the platform on October 1st in order to test some reactions, do the first real tests and, most important of all, prepare for the real challenge.

It was only on October 31, 2017 that TuMercadazo.com was officially launched in an event with more than 300 guests at the Camino Real Hotel in the City of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, throughout the first week we also had the Support from various national media that gave us coverage and the first users began to arrive.As I write these lines TuMercadazo.com has already become a whole National Marketplace, with more than 40 registered companies that are uploading their products, another 80 in the activation process, with more than 2,300 products from Bolivia published and with an average growth 200 to 300 new products uploaded every week on the platform.However, we were always clear on something and that is part of our daily dogma. We created TuMercadazo.com with a clear vision:
Give customers from all over the country the opportunity to buy at the same price as if they were physically where the store is (even if it is in another city or in the same).


But at the same time our goal was to provide the opportunity to all stores in the country to be able to sell to customers from all over Bolivia without having to invest in opening branches in other cities or worrying about  gulf email list attracting customers to visit their establishments.
Thus, along the way, we encountered a series of challenges.
Challenges that have been overcome in some cases, and challenges that are difficult to overcome.CHALLENGE # 1 – FILL AN ECOMMERCE WITH PRODUCTSecommerce in bolivia have many products
Electronic Commerce , courtesy of ShutterStock
I am not going to lie.TuMercadazo.com is not the first eCommerce platform in Bolivia that has been created, but it has managed to hold out for a long time and even exceed certain levels that others could not.

Something that we detected at the time is that many eCommerce projects in Bolivia made the mistake of starting, putting a few stores, generating a lot of expectation and when people visited the page, there were no products.People were discouraged by finding few stores and most importantly, very few products.
And this ended up killing that project.
What did we do to prevent the same thing from happening to us?
We start the other way arouWe decided to have the largest offer of online products in Bolivia and for this we managed to develop within the platform the possibility of connecting to Amazon United States and thus show millions of products.We use the Dropshipping business model, added to a part of our own development.In this way, TuMercadazo.com was born with millions of products that, although they were not in Bolivia, allowed us to show categories full of products to buy and this people liked.

Meanwhile, we would not be in charge of the entire process of bringing the products, clearing them through customs, and delivering them to customers through different logistical means.
A strategic move, effective, but one that led to other challenges in some cases.
The cost of importing products to Bolivia legally
Import , courtesy of ShutterStock
We actually take the move of bringing Amazon products as part of our investment, because the profit margin is negligible, almost non-existent (Although the high costs)
While Bolivian stores are adding and increasing our national catalog, which is what we are really looking for, many users visit us, register and buy Amazon products.
However, what few know is that this is very unprofitable.
Not only do you earn nothing, but above all, you have to explain to people that we are not the ones who set the price, but that this price is a sum of taxes, duties and obligations.

What do I mean legally?I mean to do it the right and ethical way.
Buy the product in Amazon United States, review it and prepare it in the offices of the United States, dispatch it to Bolivia, do all the procedures and pay all taxes and customs duties ( Which increases the value of the product many times up to 40% ) , issue an invoice ( which increases the product by 15% ) and finally review it at the Santa Cruz offices, so that people can pick it up or dispatch it.In summary, a product purchased on Amazon and legally brought to Bolivia, can range between 56% and 86% more, only in paperwork, duties and taxes. And that I did not speak at any time about operating expenses, standing in lines, going to customs repeatedly and other things that can add 5% more (For example, the means of payment can cost 3.5% of the value of buys)

And by the way, don’t talk about PROFIT or PROFIT, which is below 1%.Import duties and taxes in BoliviaAnd that is the risk of bringing products legally to Bolivia.Look like the Rich Uncle in the eyes of clients, even if in reality one earns less than 1% and is almost working at cost. It’s almost like doing a relative a favor by bringing a product from the US.Mariano And why do they do such a crazy thing?Because as I said before, it is part of the investment, it is a service that is offered to users and it is the cost of having the largest online product catalog in Bolivia.Is it business? Not at all … unless it is done in “another way”But it is necessary so that users always find what they are looking for, although the ultimate goal is for the same to happen with products from Bolivia.CHALLENGE # 3 – EARN THE RESPECT AND TRUST OF THE PEOPLThis challenge is one of the most demotivating when it comes to creating an eCommerce in Bolivia.

What do I mean by earning respect?MANY TIMES PEOPLE COMPARE REGIONAL BUSINESSES WITH MULTINATIONAL COMPANIEThe biggest problem that digital entrepreneurs have is not that there is no solid e-commerce culture in the country, but that many times people compare regional businesses, with multinational companies that have been in the market for years, bill millions of dollars and are They are found worldwide, but they are not even in Bolivia.We know very well that we are not Amazon, eBay, MercadoLibre or even AliExpress, but people want that and even demand it. Although few understand that these companies, apart from having capital investments of millions of dollars, have not been in the market for a year, but have been in the market for many years (And in some cases some did not break even in less than 5 yearAdded to this there is not much support from the people.It is sad to see how many times national entrepreneurship is not valued or the fact of having a “made in Bolivia” label ends up generating discredit or that the effort of wanting to do something is less valued, which in this case, not many were encouraged.This in turn means that despite the benefits, the audience that is encouraged to jump on the online shopping cart is small, to have confidence in an eCommerce business in Bolivia.

But we are sure that once they are encouraged (and we have verified it) they repeat the experience.How did we earn respect, support and trust?We invest a lot of time and effort in serving customers well, educating them and teaching them how to buy online. It is complicated, we are not a giant company with so many resources.Just to give an example, it is not easy to provide customer service at times that many times NO other company does. Few people know that at 3:00 in the morning, whoever is answering the message and serving the customer is one of its founders.
But people value that and little by little we notice how TuMercadazo.com begins to be recommended, earns their respect and, most importantly, the trust of people.
We are aware and have seen that after good service there are customers who are encouraged, who buy … but the best of all is that they return.In addition to this, there is also a “time” factor that is important and that is that as time passes, people begin to trust more because they see that the company is really maintained and does not “disappear” as has happened many times with certain digital business

ecommerce logistics in bolivia
Delivery , courtesy of ShutterStock
I think this is one of the most complex challenges to handle.Getting an eCommerce platform in Bolivia to the entire country requires a lot of effort.
Currently in TuMercadazo.com we have a central office in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and apart 8 more offices in the rest of the country, in each department for the collection of products that customers buy on Amazon.
In addition to this, we reach more than 46 provinces with both Amazon products and Bolivian products.
This means that a person from La Paz can buy a product from a store in Cochabamba and receive it without problems at home.To achieve this, on the one hand we have the support of FeDex, which is one of our strategic allies, which apart from offering us special prices for our clients when they buy at home, they also allowed us to use their offices throughout the country, so that people can collect their products.In summary, if you want to have an eCommerce in Bolivia, you really have to take into account the way to reach the entire country, to thus provide the opportunity to anyone from wherever you are, to be able to buy products online.CHALLENGE # 5 – HAVE SEVERAL FORMS OF PAYMENT
ecommerce payment methods in bolivia
Payment methods , courtesy of ShutterStock
We have to admit it, still in Bolivia there is not a great culture of online shopping or online paymentsWe still have people who still go to the ATM, withdraw their money and then go to pay the basic services to the physical offices of those entities; when it would be safer to pay online and much faster.

We also have a country with a very low percentage of credit cards, less than 20% of the population.
And of that percentage, not everyone buys online.
Recommended reading: The state of debit and credit cards in Bolivia
We did?We actually created TuMercadazo.com thinking of everyone, but especially that remaining 80% who do not have a credit card.
That is why we implement different forms of payment such as:Cash payment in different Pharmacies, Cooperatives and Banks that add up to more than 1,500 points throughout the country.
Payment with mobile wallets such as Tigo Money and at your Tigo Money points in cash throughout the country.Payment by debit card.
Cash on delivery payment (for now in Santa Cruz) for Bolivian products in cash and by card, for the latter we had to acquire a portable POS device.
Payment from online banking with different banks.
We have achieved this thanks to our strategic partners such as Tigo Money , Síntesis and Payme .CHALLENGE # 6 – REACHING THE IDEAL PEOPLE / BUYERS
online shoppers ecommerce in bolivia
Online shopping , courtesy of ShutterStock
I think this is the biggest challenge so far.

Reach the right audience.Why am I saying this?Because currently, in these moments of the beginning of eCommerce in Bolivia, the reality is that the ideal client is one who knows how to buy online, who wants something, who buys it and who wants to receive it at home to save time, money and even stress from having to drive, find parking, or queue at stores.
However, there is no marketing tool that segments so perfectly.
For this we invest large amounts of money in digital marketing and advertising, we test through A / B tests the best performing ads, we create different personalized and similar audiences to increase effectiveness and most important of all … save the penny.
Each ad we place, we focus on knowing its CPC (Cost per Click) or CPM (Cost per thousand), the CTR (Click Through Rate) it has and how it impacts our business through its CVR (Conversion Rate).

We calculate separately the average CAC (Cost per Acquisition) and even the LTV (Life Time Value) of the clients.In summary, we try to measure to the minimum expression, to understand which thread we pull, really generates ROI (Return on Investment)I think that nowadays, beyond the economic or not that it is to create an eCommerce, in marketing issues there is a real challenge.Especially in a country, where there are no studies, statistics or reports on this item, where every month it is to learn the statistics again and make projections again. And so it will be until they are 2 or 3 years old and can draw better conclusions.Everything is pure learning about the moment, but with the risk of making a mistake, not reaching the right audience and losing everything.CHALLENGE # 7 – EDUCATE STORES AND BUSINESSES
products online stores ecommerce in bolivia
Online Store , courtesy of ShutterStock
In a country where there is still no formal eCommerce, established and used by a large part of the people, something happens with companies.Very few have digital catalogs, complete descriptions of their products and even ideal photographs to sell online as it happens in other countries.

What’s more, some companies, although they want to sell online, never imagined being online beyond Facebook, either with a website, their own online store or a Marketplace like ours.
Although the recruitment of companies from Bolivia is very good and their reaction is very positive (every week on average there are 10 companies that want to sell online in Bolivia ), we face a big problem.
Many do not have material to upload online and have to prepare it, that takes time (and a lot in some cases). Some do not even have complete descriptions of the products they sell to the market.
This translates into lag times, file uploads, etc.
We have even hired a typing person who receives all the information and returns it to the correct format to upload online to help companies upload their files and be selling online in Bolivia as soon as possible.For this reason we have even created an eBook to teach companies how they can increase their online sales in Bolivia with TuMercadazo.com by implementing some actions such as taking better photographs, better describing the product or telling their customers that they can now buy them online.


customer service ecommerce bolivia
Satisfied customer , courtesy of ShutterStock
When creating an eCommerce in Bolivia, there was something that we had something very clear about.
We would meet many people who were going to want to buy products from Bolivia or Amazon online, but had never bought online before.
Well, apart from the fact that we have to optimize human resources since we do not have a whole customer service team to respond to the hundreds of requests that arrive per day, it is key for me to understand what is happening to the market, what questions are commonly has the Bolivian public, where they are holding back or why they buy or not buy something.
From my point of view, there is no better way to learn what customers want than to be exactly at the front ofthe business.
And that front are the channels of attention.
Perhaps due to logistical issues it is not the person behind the phone or the online chat that we have, but the person behind the Fan Page responding.
So we constantly see ideas and implementations for improvement. From creating a Frequently Asked Questions section , to creating video tutorials to help our clients.

the formal business of ecommerce
Pirate , courtesy of ShutterStock
Finally, something that many people do not understand is that when you create an eCommerce platform, you are working under formal business rules, but competing in the same market where several informal businesses operate.
In TuMercadazo.com there are no products that are sold as a result of smuggling, nor are stolen or pirated products sold, we cannot sell without delivering an invoice or blindly view other impositions more based on tax and legal issues.
.We knew that we were entering an era of formal , legal business, where users are protected with the delivery of an invoice and even with guarantees, returns and many things that informal businesses do not haveBut that does not mean that it is not simple and that it is quite a challenge.
It’s a matter of time. It is likely that within 5 years eCommerce in Bolivia will be so well established that many companies in the country have to sell online (and formally) that there will be no space for other businesses or it will even be an almost mandatory migration.

Who should take care of this?hese questions and many more were answered some time ago in an open Hangout that we did together with the collective ” More and Better Internet for Bolivia ” and where I was able to share everything I know (or think I know) about this valuable topic that has many of us worried.
f you want to see the video (which lasts about 65 minutes plus questions and answers) you can do it below.
Below the video you will find a short summary on this topic of eCommerce in Bolivia.Before starting this text, I want to clarify that what is mentioned in the video and what I write below is a personal opinion, the result of what I have learned, investigated and investigated in recent years.
So if you like this text ( Yes, to that medium that already stole one from me and never quoted me ) do not forget to mention the source.
On the other hand, when I speak of “eCommerce Players in Bolivia” their order does not alter the product. There are different degrees of importance, but they are ALL necessary to have a real eCommerce.
Finally, the following text tries to be a summary of what is exposed in the video, but if you want my advice, it would be good if you watch the video and also read this article.
I hope you enjoy them and that obviously, it will help us to gradually shape this issue of Electronic Commerce in Bolivia.

One of the most important ecommerce players in Bolivia is the government.Why?
For a number of reasons, including:
Establish a legal framework (Eg: eCommerce Law in Bolivia) that defines the actions that can and cannot be carried out.
Stimulate projects and actions to promote eCommerce in Bolivia (Ex .: Stimulate the digital entrepreneurial sector)
To control that the entities, institutions and even the regulations actually fulfill their functions, in the search to “globalize” Bolivia in terms of electronic commerce.
If the government focuses on really supporting, stimulating and expanding eCommerce in Bolivia, this sector will have a great ally to get ahead.
When entering the page of the Central Bank of Bolivia the following text is read in the functions sectionThe Central Bank of Bolivia is an institution governed by public law, with legal personality and its own assets. Within the framework of the State’s economic policy, it is the function of the Central Bank of Bolivia to maintain the stability of the internal purchasing power of the currency, to contribute to economic and social development.
The powers of the Central Bank of Bolivia, in coordination with the economic policy determined by the Executive Branch, in addition to those indicated by law:
Determine and execute monetary policy.
Execute the exchange policy.
Regulate the payment system.
Authorize the issuance of the currency.
Manage international reserves.
As can be seen in its functions, I consider that the Central Bank of Bolivia should determine, execute, regulate and authorize the conversion of physical money to digital money.
Just as at the time the use of “Mobile Wallets” was allowed, perhaps it is one of its functions ( I say perhaps, because that is as far as I understand ) it could facilitate a regulation or policy on converting physical money to digital money , the way to change it or to transfer it, as well as who can do it. (Ex: Payment gateways)
This is another of the key eCommerce players.



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