I recently joined two of my analyst colleagues – Jennifer Belissent from Forrester's Vendor Strategy role and Jan Erik Aase in Sourcing & Vendor Management – in Brazil to speak with companies in our respective coverage areas. It was a fantastic trip: Well organized and incredibly useful in better understanding the business landscape.

On the eBusiness side, we had the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of companies in São Paulo and Rio, ranging from online retailers like Sacks and Comprafacil to eCommerce technology providers such as IBM and hybris to others like FedEx and Google. We also spoke at events organized by content optimization provider Arizona as well as Brazil’s eCommerce Committee.

We are working on a report that summarizes some of the key findings from those conversations – in the meantime, a handful of high-level takeaways from the trip:

Multichannel functionality has not arrived, but is coming. Multichannel came up in almost every conversation I had with companies in the online retail space in Brazil. While there are few options like in-store pickup or returns currently available on leading retailers’ eCommerce sites, the fact that many of the large traditional retailers are active in eCommerce means that multichannel functionality is poised to be a core area of investment going forward.

The rule about localizing payments and delivery options holds true in Brazil. We frequently talk about payments and delivery being the two areas beyond language that are most essential to effective eCommerce localization. Brazil is no exception – it’s critical that both payments and delivery options cater to local preferences. Our upcoming report will dive into consumer expectations in both areas.

International eCommerce players are largely missing from the landscape. It’s often noted with a bit of irony that Amazon does not have a presence in Brazil, yet few other global brands have launched eCommerce sites for the country. As in markets like China, leaders in the space are local companies or regional players like MercadoLivre.  

Executives are well versed in eCommerce best practices. While many eCommerce sites in Brazil currently offer basic levels of consumer ratings and reviews, recommendations and product imaging, the executives I spoke with were very much up-to-speed on leading implementations of these features and more.  Retailers’ tempered adoption of advanced tools and features tends to be a calculated approach rather than due to a lack of familiarity with the technologies or options available.

Stay tuned for the report within the next month.