With labour laws favourable towards business, macroeconomic stability, growth perspective, low-level risk, excellent solvency, and the highest purchasing power in South America, Chile is a top choice for foreign investors trying to enter a new market. As one of the strongest economies in South America, Chile’s policies tend to be favourable towards business and it ranked high among the countries that are the most open to imports and foreign investments. Chile’s market might not be the largest, but investors will benefit from an easier access to regional markets through different trade agreements.
Chile has a low level of corruption and a high degree of bureaucratic transparency, and investors are also attracted by its rich natural resources, its low level of risk, the high quality of its infrastructure, a low public debt, a healthy financial system, and reliable institutions. The operating costs of doing business in Chile tend to be higher compared to other Latin American countries, and the country also lacks innovation, with very weak spending in R&D. Be as it may, the political environment and its modernity make Chile an attractive option for foreign investors. Its capital, Santiago, is one of the best cities to live in and the country itself has one of the best quality of life in Latin America.
The Chilean’s government has worked hard to simplify investment procedures, with a moderate income tax on companies. In this Getting to Global guide, we will guide you through the process of reaching Chile’s consumers, successfully making sales on ecommerce channels, and getting your products to reach the desired consumers.
A total of 68.0% of Chilean internet users accessed ecommerce websites in June, above the Latin American average of 66.7% but below the global average of 74.3%, according to the US consultancy. Chileans also spend less time on ecommerce websites compared to both their global and regional counterparts. Internet users in the South American country spent an average of 25.5 minutes on ecommerce sites in June. The Latin American average was 44.7 minutes and the global average 88.1 minutes. However, Chile’s ecommerce industry is set to continue growing strongly, with revenues expected to increase 20% this year to reach around US$2.0bn. Average visits to retail websites per day in Chile increased 14.6% year-on-year in June.
MercadoLibre remains the most popular ecommerce site in the country, attracting 1.27mn unique visitors in June. Local retail giants Cencosud and Falabella occupied second and third place, respectively, each with more than 1mn unique visitors. Buscape was the most popular online comparison site in Chile, drawing in 408,000 unique visitors.
Cable television is an important medium of communication and is growing in popularity, allowing advertisers to reach almost two thirds of households. Advertising is on billboards, buses, in the metro can reach a large audience, especially in metropolitan areas. The radio is most important medium of mass communication. According to estimates, 93% of Chileans and 97% of Santiago inhabitants listen to the radio. Online advertising is booming and allows to reach more than a third of the population. Mobile advertising through applications and geolocalisation is a new and developing trend.
The statistic shows the market share of the most popular social media sites in Chile as of February 2017, based on market share of visits. Twitter was ranked third with 3.97 percent of all desktop social media visits. Market leader Facebook accounted for 84.78 percent of all social media site visits.
Chile leads Latin America in terms of mobile phone and social media (Facebook, Twitter) penetration.
Within the categories of products and services, those with the highest demand were travel and tourism, IT, and clothing / apparel.
E-commerce Day, which began seven years ago, has had a slow start with websites crashing under the number of B2C transactions; however, the sector has advanced and the sites now have stronger platforms. E-commerce Day has generated over 390,000 transactions valued at over US$83 million in sales.
In Chile, Retail sales are seasonal, volatile and relatively important to the overall economy.
A total of 68.0% of Chilean internet users accessed ecommerce websites in June 2016, above the Latin American average of 66.7% but below the global average of 74.3%, according to recent statistics. Chileans also spend less time on ecommerce websites compared to both their global and regional counterparts. Internet users in the South American country spent an average of 25.5 minutes on ecommerce sites in June. The Latin American average was 44.7 minutes and the global average 88.1 minutes. However, Chile’s ecommerce industry is set to continue growing strongly, with revenues expected to increase 20% this year to reach around US$2.0bn. Average visits to retail websites per day in Chile increased 14.6% year-on-year in June.
E-commerce accommodates a minority population, and digital wallets cater to an impossibly small market. These products are sure to grow but are far from certain to become profitable in the short term. Most likely, it will be generational change that brings these products to scale, meaning robust revenue is potentially decades away. Latin American payments are changing rapidly, but a long road of digital transformation is still ahead.
Payment in Chile are dominated by credit cards, with a much smaller market share for payment methods like e-wallet DineroMail and ServiPag. The lack of a diverse payment environment is the biggest issue that prevents a stronger growth of ecommerce in Chile. All credit card payments have to be processed by a local banking monopoly which provides an outdated ecommerce solution.
65% Visa/Mastercard, 30% Dineromail/Servipag, 5% Bank Transfer 
Servipag is a company founded in 1990 by Banco de Chile and the BCI. Servipag is the leader in the debt collection and payment transactions. Whens selecting Servipag upon checkout, the shoppers confirm their details and gets a payment voucher. 
Webpay Plus is a payment solution in Chile – powered by Transbank – that allows shoppers to pay with MasterCard, Visa, Red Compra, Magna and Diners Club credit cards.
Presto is one of the major local credit cards in Chile that can be used for purchases in store and online. Approximately over 1.5 million active Presto cards are issued in Chile.
Magna is a local credit card brand in Chile which can be used to pay online. Next to Presto, Ripley and Webpay Plus, Magna is one of the smaller local credit card brands in Chile.
Red Compra is a strong payment brand in Chile allowing online shoppers to pay online through bank transfer.
Sencillito is a popular, secure and simple post-pay payment method for online shoppers in Chile. Sencillito is an offline cash payment method for online purchases using payment vouchers. 
MercadoPago is the leading online payment solution in Latin America. It was launched in 2004 and has operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. MercadoPago is designed to facilitate transactions both on and off the MercadoLibre’s marketplace by providing a mechanism that allows its users to securely, easily and promptly send, receive and finance payments online.
The Electronic Tax Document (DTE) is the electronic billing schema currently in force in Chile, and its management involves the adoption of certain requirements to be met by senders and receivers, including engaging in online communications with the SII or Internal Revenue Service. The electronic billing model in Chile is mandatory and regulated by transitory article 1 of Law nº 20.727. Said article lays down a schedule that distinguishes 5 different groups of taxpayers that must gradually join the electronic billing scheme between November 2014 and February 2018.
In Chile, payment to foreign suppliers is often made via an irrevocable letter of credit from a Chilean commercial bank. This is relatively fast and simple, with no lengthy delays in the remittance of foreign currency. Payments are made upon receipt of notice of shipment of goods. Other methods of payment to suppliers include cash against documents and open account
Local credit cards (Ripley, Presto, Magna, Webpay), Red Compra (bank transfer)
The mobile phone is at the center of payment innovation for the unbanked as well. Payment companies continue to look for ways to convert paper money into digital currency, namely in the form of stored value on cell phones.
Chile is a very open market. All natural persons or legal entities are authorized to carry out import transactions. In spite of the liberal import regime, licenses are required for goods whose value is over 3,500 USD. In principle, they are granted automatically by the Central Bank of Chile. The importer must present an “Informe de Importacion”, a document which must go through the commercial bank. This license is used above all for statistical purposes.
The commercial forms used by both importers and exporters are commercial invoices, certificates of origin, bills of lading, freight insurance and packing lists. Special permission, certificates, and approval documents, such as sanitary and phytosanitary certificates, are required for most agricultural products and in special cases for industrial products. Chile only approves the import of processed food products on a case-by-case basis.To bring in a product, the importer must obtain the permission of the Health Service Officer at the port of entry. For more information about online declaration, please consult the website of the Chilean Tax Service
Unlike US, courier services in Chile are decentralized. There are many small and medium players in the market, offering last mile delivery services. The vast majority of these companies are too small to develop their own software infrastructure, or to invest in technology all together. Considering that in eCommerce the price difference between retailers is not usually a decisive factor, organizations are now looking more at alternatives way to differentiate themselves from the competition. As online commerce has grown at a rate of 25% constantly, which drove the industry to look at last mile deliveries among other solutions. The Chilean client is looking at low cost deliveries, but starts to demand on-time and transparent delivery and communication.
Import duty and taxes are due when importing goods into Chile whether by a private individual or a commercial entity. The valuation method is CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight), which means that the import duty and taxes payable are calculated on the complete shipping value, which includes the cost of the imported goods, the cost of freight, and the cost of insurance. In addition to duty, imports are subject to sales tax, and some goods are also charged luxury tax or beverage tax. The average duty rate in Chile is 6%. VAT is levied on imports at a standard rate of 19% calculated on the sum of the CIF value and duty. Imports with a FOB value (i.e. product value excluding shipping and insurance cost) up to US$30 are exempt from duty and from Classification Charge. VAT applies regardless of the value. Classification charge is applicable at 1% of the CIF value, when the FOB value is greater than US$30. Luxury tax is applicable on the sum of the CIF value and applicable duty at a rate of 15% on products like jewellery, and at a rate of 50% on products like fireworks. Beverage tax is applicable on the sum of the CIF value and applicable duty at rates of 13%, 15% and 27% on alcoholic beverages.
The environment for ecommerce in Chile is more advanced than in other Latin American nations, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, due to greater use of credit cards, personal computers, and the Internet. E-commerce related activities were valued at $14.5 billion in 2008, according to a study done by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce’s Digital Economy Center. Of this, business-to- consumer (B2C) activity accounted for US$380 million, while business-to-business (B2B) activity was approximately US$14 billion. These levels represent a 20 percent increase in overall ecommerce since 2007.
Chile has no restrictions on incoming and outgoing foreign capital. Reserve requirements for external capital, along with the prior authorization requirement to enter funds associated with external loans, investment, working capital, bonds and ADRs, have been eliminated. Limitations on capital and profit repatriation do not exist. Foreign trade finance operations (both import and export) are allowed to perform their foreign exchange transactions in the open market. Foreign exchange operations are relatively active and efficient in Chile. As a general rule, currency may be freely traded in two markets: the informal market and the interbank market (formal). Prior to receiving authorization, Chile’s Central Bank requires confirmation that the trade finance transactions, foreign loans, capital flows, and profit repatriation will be executed through a commercial bank (formal market).