The common wisdom in Colombia is that ecommerce is still too nascent a market. It’s definitely true that things haven’t taken off here as much has they have in Brazil, a country where new ecommerce sites such as Baby.com.br are garnering Venture Capital (VC) investment from some heavy hitters. Nevertheless, some Colombian entrepreneurs such as Nelson Cedeño, CEO of an ecommerce platform company called Plaanck.com, believes the time is now to start local ecommerce companies.
The company was founded this year is based in Medellin. It currently offers a platform that allows users sell items online and on the Plaanck website without charging a commission on each sale. The company currently is focused on growing ad sales as their principle revenue stream.
According to Cedeño, they’ve managed to increase traffic to the site quickly enough to make it into the top 600 sites in Colombia. Also, Plaank is getting ready to launch a new offering to launch group-buying deals between sellers and buyers.
According to a 2009 study by VISA on ecommerce in Latin America, Colombia generated over $400 million in online retail sales in 2009 and estimates by others put 2011 at well over $1 billion. Other estimates concur with the fact that Brazil still represents between 60-65% of ecommerce in the region with Visa, in the same study, estimating 2010 ecommerce revenues in the region of over $30 billion in 2010.
The Plaanck team believes they are in a better position than international competitors such as Shopify and others to understand the needs of ecommerce buyers and sellers in Colombia. Time will tell whether Plaanck’s growth positions it as a mildly interesting local ecommerce company or as a high growth player with potential to expand either regionally or through new, more advanced offerings.