Internet penetration is increasing rapidly in Peru, and there was a growth of 25% in the online population from 2016 to 2017, when an additional 4 million people became digitally connected. In 2017, 20 million people, or two thirds of the population, were online, and annual growth is predicted to be 10%. The same proportion of the population are said to be active social media users. Rugged terrain to be found around the 1.285 million km squared territory that includes both the Andes and the Amazon has stifled attempts to connect some of the more rural regions. However, foreign investment has increasingly helped to resolve this issue.
Broadband penetration is low in Peru, when compared with neighbouring nations, despite government attempts to stimulate the sector. Many online connections are still dial-up, perhaps due to a distinct lack of competition in broadband service provision, which means broadband is generally slow and relatively expensive in Peru. Maintenance can take up to two weeks.
Facebook is the most popular social media outlet, and 90% of users said they accessed the site using their smart phones in 2017, with 55% using Facebook on a daily basis. 45% of Facebook users in Peru are female, while 55% are male.
There are more mobile phone subscriptions in Peru than there are people, with 35.5 active subscriptions noted in early 2017, presenting 111% of the population. Clearly, many have more than one phone, perhaps with a phone for each operator, so that users can avail of cheap call rates, swapping phones, or sim cards, depending on who is being called. 18 million mobile phone users regularly access social networks from their phones, and a 50% hike was noted between 2016 and 2017, pointing to a significant increase in smart phone ownership. Given the connectivity issues, Digital PR and inbound marketing in Peru often takes a mobile bias but 72% of Peruvian internet users still access the web using their laptop or desktop computers.
Two thirds of mobile phone subscriptions are pre-paid, with 34% on monthly contracts. 55% of mobile phone connections have 3G or 4G access.
While e-commerce is largely a new phenomenon, projections into the future are very positive indeed, and opportunities exist for new companies to take advantage of this growth, particularly with younger internet users (aged 18-25) who represent 77% of overall online visitors. 22% of internet users in Peru say they have already purchased something online, and preference is given to buying accessories and applications (38%); technology (30%); and clothing and footwear (30%).
Some of the best performing e-commerce outlets include Mercado Libre, an auction site owned by an Argentine company, and overall Latin America’s most popular online retail site; OLX, a classified ad platform with presence in 114 countries; Linio, which brings together retail sellers of clothing, electro-domestics, technology and toys; Wong, Peru’s largest supermarket chain; and Ripley, a Chilean chain of department stores, with a presence in Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Logistics can cause issues for companies hoping to engage in e-commerce in Peru, and development of trust is imperative, particularly with regard to consumers’ reluctance to supply banking details online, and a stated fear that items purchased online may be faulty, or may not match the description given on websites – a reputational challenge that PR agencies in Peru are familiar with. Robust customer service and returns policies can help to mitigate such fears among the populace.