Cross-border Selling

Mexico’s Ecommerce Matures

When I last addressed Mexican ecommerce, in 2014, citizens distrusted online purchasing, relied on simple payment methods, and did not buy from foreign websites. In 2020, much is unchanged. A large percentage of Mexicans still do not have bank accounts or credit cards.

However, more people are embracing ecommerce, revenues are rising, and cross-border sales have gained traction, especially from U.S. merchants, whose Spanish versions comprise most of the top 10 ecommerce sites in Mexico.


The 2020 Mexican population is 128.9 million. Over 58 percent is between the ages of 15 and 54. The over-65 cohort is about 7 percent, much smaller than most developed countries. According to research firm Statista, Mexico has 88 million internet users, close to 70 percent of the population.

Data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Geografia do México reveals that 81 million Mexicans have access to a mobile phone — 80 percent are smartphones. Younger consumers are comfortable shopping on mobile devices.

Statista forecasts that the country will generate US$16.9 billion in retail ecommerce revenue this year. By comparison, China and the U.S. will record just over US$1 trillion and $389 billion, respectively.

Ecommerce revenue in Mexico is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.5 percent over the next four years, resulting in a market volume of US$21.8 billion by 2024. The average annual revenue per user currently amounts to US$334.

Just over two-thirds of Mexico’s online consumers have shopped at an international site, according to Statista.

Online Shopping Habits

In its “Mexico 2020 Ecommerce Country Report,” RetailX shares that Mexican consumers buy more services online than physical goods. Event tickets, bus and airplane tickets, hotel reservations, and ride services comprise most of the internet sales in Mexico.

As for physical goods, the largest segment is apparel, with an expected market volume of US$1.1 billion in 2020 according to Statista. Mexicans are most likely to buy apparel goods cross-border.

Similar to other countries, Mexico has ecommerce holidays. During the “Hot Sale,” online merchants offer substantial discounts across three days in late May to early June. Another event, “El Buen Fin,” occurs over a mid-November weekend. It is the Mexican equivalent of Black Friday.


Debit cards are the most popular form of payment in Mexico for online purchases. But with more than a third of the population not having a bank account, cash remains popular for shopping. The use of e-wallets, including Mercado Pago (see below) and PayPal, is on the rise, according to the RetailX report.

Still, accepting cash is necessary to achieve ecommerce success. This method is especially popular among lower-income consumers, wherein the buyer chooses the convenience-store-payment method online, fills out the checkout page, and prints a voucher containing a barcode. She then goes to the store, presents the voucher, and pays with cash. The market leader for cash payments is Oxxo, a convenience store chain with over 16,000 payment locations across the country.

Payment on delivery with cash also remains popular for many Mexicans. Middle-class shoppers are more likely to use debit cards. Bank cards enable payment by installments, common for large ticket items.

Top 5 Sites

While they buy from cross-border merchants, Mexican consumers prefer sites with a Mexican domain. Amazon, for instance, fulfills orders from Mexico on both its and sites. Walmart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, and Best Buy all have Spanish language websites that accommodate Mexican payment preferences. All are top 10 ecommerce sites in the country in terms of revenue.

Mexico streamlined procedures for imports and customs-clearing for items valued under US$50, which helps many American merchants.

Mercado Libre Mexico. Argentina-based Mercado Libre is a marketplace for individuals and businesses to sell products across a range of categories, including vehicles, technology, home and appliance, fashion, beauty, personal care, and groceries.

It operates in 18 Latin American countries and reaches roughly 170 million consumers. Its digital wallet, Mercado Pago, is increasingly popular in Mexico.

The site holds the largest share of the ecommerce market in Mexico and receives about 127 million monthly visitors. Mexico represents about 12 percent of the company’s overall revenue.

Amazon Mexico. Amazon established its Mexican website in 2015 and holds the second spot in revenue. Amazon Mexico customers shop mostly for consumer electronics and technology goods, followed by software and games. Amazon also offers digital products such as Prime Video, Amazon Music, and e-books. The site receives about 63 million monthly visitors.

Walmart Mexico has operated brick-and-mortar stores in Mexico since 1993, with a wide range of goods and low prices. Walmart’s online store is popular because products can be ordered online and picked up in-store. The site garners roughly 28 million monthly visitors.

Coppel is a native department store chain established in 1941. It operates approximately 20 brick-and-mortar stores and an ecommerce site, which competes with Amazon. Coppel offers a wide range of goods from global brands across categories such as electronics, home and furniture, fashion, automotive, and sports. Coppel receives about 23 million monthly online visitors.

Liverpool. El Puerto de Liverpool’s chain of 123 mid- to high-end department stores sell apparel, consumer electronics, white goods, and home furnishings. All items are also sold online. About 22 million Mexicans visit its website every month. Liverpool is the leading online fashion retailer in Mexico.

Other top U.S. companies are Sam’s Club, Home Depot Mexico, and Best Buy Mexico. All have both brick-and-mortar stores in Mexico and ecommerce sites.

Marcia Kaplan
Marcia Kaplan
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