STORY INLINE POST
Q: What is LAP Marketplace's primary mission when it comes to supporting Latin American startups?
A: Our main mission is to connect Latin America with the world. On our platform, Latin American buyers and sellers interact with the world through cross-border e-commerce, allowing them to sell their products in global marketplaces and digital channels. We seek to democratize exports so that not only large companies can export and sell their products to international channels, but also small and medium-sized companies.
Q: Why did LAP Marketplace choose to expand to Mexico?
A: Before arriving in Mexico, we started in Chile and Colombia. These markets served as laboratories, allowing us to understand the platform, its operation and market needs. When we saw scalability in both Chile and Colombia we decided to target markets where we had the largest number of customers.
We chose Mexico because we know the need exists. The country has almost 5 million SMEs, according to the Mexican Association of Online Sales (AMVO). Of those, only 500,000 are selling in digital channels and of those that sell in digital channels, only 3% are exporting. Mexico holds a great deal of potential for us because we want to teach Mexican brands to sell in international markets through marketplaces.
Q: How did the expansion to Mexico compare to other Latin American countries?
A: We have been in Mexico for almost a year and the main challenge was building our team and understanding the local idiosyncrasies and business culture. Mexicans are very friendly and always willing to help but they find it difficult to say no when they are not interested. Because of this, it is sometimes hard to know where to focus to reach our goals. Part of the reason for our success in Mexico has been our team. It is now a small seven-person team but six of its members are Mexican, which helps to understand how to do business here and to understand our customers.
Q: What sets LAP Marketplace apart from its competitors in the region?
A: As a cross-border e-commerce platform, we do not have direct competition in Latin America. Indirect competitors can include local marketplace integrators that allow Mexican brands to publish and manage sales from different marketplaces in a single platform. Our differentiating factor is our focus on cross-border trade. We aim to take Mexican brands to other markets while potential competitors focus on the local market.
We had no direct competition during the past six years because there are many barriers to entering this market, mainly regulations and logistics. Moving foodstuffs, supplements or cosmetics across borders often requires certificates and in terms of logistics, moving products from one country to another can be very expensive. Our knowledge of imports and digital integration of marketplaces have been fundamental to maintain our edge.
Q: How has the Mexican customer changed LAP Marketplace’s approach to e-commerce?
A: Mexican e-commerce has been the second-fastest growing in Latin America and the Mexican customer is two or three steps ahead of our other customers in the region. Our growth gave us a great deal of knowledge of digital markets and marketplace sales in e-commerce. Presenting and adapting our product to the Mexican market was much easier and faster than in Colombia, Chile and Peru. After one year of operation, sales in Mexico already exceed our total sales in Colombia and Chile combined.
Q: How does LAP Marketplace see the cross-border e-commerce market?
A: It is clear to us that we are riding the right wave at the right time. Global e-commerce is growing by 10% per year, while cross-border e-commerce is growing by 27% per year. In 2022, 17% of e-commerce purchases were from one country to another and, according to these trends, it is expected that by 2030, 1 out of every 2 e-commerce purchases will be through cross-border channels. We are still creating that need but we know that in the next year or two this will be an important trend. We are pretty relaxed about it now and since we are on top of these trends, we can remain two steps ahead of everyone else.
Q: What strategies does LAP Marketplace have in place to adapt to changing consumer preferences, especially in the context of brick-and-click retail experiences?
A: LAP Marketplace connects customers with physical and digital stores. We are integrated via APIs to marketplaces in the US, Canada, Chile and Colombia. When exporting their products through digital channels, the client enters the LAP Marketplace app and creates a catalog on our platform. Automatically, the catalog will be published on every site they choose.
We centralize orders and the client labels their product before mailing them. We also work with logistics companies so once the client sticks the labels on, a logistics company picks up the products the next day and sends them directly to the final customer. Through a single inventory, our clients can supply different sales channels in different countries.
Q: How has LAP Marketplace incorporated AI and other technologies into its platform and what benefits have these brought to the company and its users?
A: Automation is key for our business; without automation, our model would not be scalable. We incorporated different types of technology by integrating the marketplaces of fulfillment centers and logistics companies. The emergence of AI has helped us to provide analysis tools and, through scraping tools, identify the best-selling products, the best prices and the market potential. We use automation to deliver all the information the customer needs to decide if, where and how to import. We want our customers to be able to do it in a simple and easy way.
Q: How will LAP Marketplace expand in the coming years?
A: We want to help both big companies and SMEs because our service is not exclusive for established brands. The opportunity is there and we want to help SMEs get ahead. We want to focus on our medium and long-term plans; we are looking to have 9,000 clients in Mexico by 2026 and be at the forefront of the e-commerce cross-border market in Latin America.
LAP Marketplace, a Chilean software developer, specializes in cross-border e-commerce for Latin American brands, helping companies internationalize their products in the main marketplaces of the world.