“In the last three years we have grown revenue by five times since moving to online classifieds,” said Mariano Nejamkis, GM of the digital business unit at Grupo El Comercio in Peru. “Introducing a payment instrument was very important to give people access to e-commerce systems.”
Nejamkis says marketplaces in smaller companies need to compete differently from those in more developed regions.
He will be speaking at the AIM Group’s new MarketplacesBuzz conference in Sao Paolo, November 6-7, about how to run and develop a business in a country with little technological infrastructure and low e-commerce penetration.
The AIM Group spoke with Nejamkis about his presentation ahead of the conference.:
“In 2016 I received a call from El Comercio, the most important newspaper and media company in Peru,” said Nejamkis. “They didn’t know what to do with classified, marketplaces and commerce strategies but knew they were not heading in the right direction, so they asked me to join and help develop the e-commerce and marketplace strategy for El Commercio in Peru and elsewhere.”
What development challenges exist for marketplaces in Peru?
There are 32 million people in Peru, with 11 million in Lima, the capital. The remaining population is spread over a large geographical area. So e-commerce penetration and extending the infrastructure takes time.
The Peruvian economy traditionally was weak and the country has a lack of infrastructure, but it has been growing fast in the past 15 years with many new media companies established. But the digital economy didn’t follow that growth until two or three years ago.
“They didn’t have the right people to manage the growth. When I arrived I found a poor online classified industry. Most money still came from print,” he said.
It was underdeveloped when you arrived. Was that a good opportunity?
“Having experience operating in more developed markets helped me understand and communicate what we needed to do,” Nejamkis said.
“We looked at how to increase economies of scale in a country of only 32 million. We found we have to compete in a slightly different way to marketplaces in more developed regions that have the scale because of the low finance penetration and lower technical infrastructure in Peru.
“We began working on better management strategies for marketplaces and have seen good results. In the last three years we have grown revenue by five times since moving to online classifieds and in September we sold jobs site Aptitus and real estate site Urbania.pe to Navent. It was a good proposition for shareholders.
“We launched a horizontal marketplace and a fintech company to help unbanked people. Introducing a payment instrument was very important to give people access to get into e-commerce.’
How does your finance product work?
“It works like PaySafe in Europe by consumers selecting our media payment on the platform,” he said.
Consumers receive a unique code they can use to pay with any card at any one of 50,000 agents or collection points. “With this we have allowed non-bank account holders to access e-commerce.
“The PagoEfectivo business is growing by 50-60 percent a year.
“Of course it also works for customers with bank accounts, but some bank account holders prefer to use PaySafe rather than bank accounts or credit cards, for instance for gambling / gaming sites. Around 50% of payments on PagoEfectivo are used by bank account holders and non-account holders.
“At the conference, I will also talk about how a media company can make the transition from classifieds to transactional marketplaces — what capabilities are needed and whether media companies need to do this, using data from media systems we own around Peru.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Mariano Nejamkis is the latest in a series of AIM Group interviews with speakers at the MarketplacesBuzz conference in Sao Paulo on November 6-7. Nejamkis has been general manager of the digital business unit at Grupo El Comercio since August 2016, including its classifieds, marketplaces and fintech businesses. Nejamkis has 15 years of experience in digital business, both in the corporate and entrepreneurial world.