SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc met in Brazil last week with an array of manufacturers to discuss plans to stock and sell products from consumer electronics to perfume in the country, according to two people that took part in the meetings.
The move would take the U.S. e-commerce giant beyond its current role in Brazil as a marketplace for third-party sellers, representing a major advance into the biggest retail market in Latin America.
Amazon representatives in Brazil declined to comment on the talks, adding that the company had held “hundreds of meetings with potential vendors and suppliers about its business in Brazil and possible future plans” in the past five years.
Amazon has waded slowly into Brazil’s complex and highly competitive online retail market, starting with e-book sales in 2012, adding physical books two years later and offering third-party sales of electronics in October.
Yet the company appears to be accelerating its expansion this year as the Brazilian economy exits a painful recession, stiffening competition for local rivals such as Mercado Libre Inc, B2w Cia Digital, Via Varejo SA and Magazine Luiza SA.
Shares of Magazine Luiza fell 2 percent in Thursday trading and Via Vareja dropped nearly 3 percent. B2W, which reported a quarterly loss and a change of chief executives on Wednesday, tumbled 10 percent, while the benchmark Bovespa stock index was little changed.
Last month, the same stocks suffered when Reuters reported that Amazon was looking to lease a large warehouse just outside of Sao Paulo.
E-commerce accounts for around 5 percent of Brazil’s roughly $300 billion retail market — about half its share in the United States — but has doubled in the past four years and is forecast to keep growing annually at a double-digit pace.
Amazon representatives, including senior executive Ticiana Mártyres, told several dozen potential suppliers gathered at the Hotel Blue Tree Morumbi last week that the company planned to use its own transportation and call centers in Brazil, according to one of the sources.
“They said they were going to buy directly from the manufacturers and resell,” said the person, who requested anonymity due to the confidential terms of the talks.
Amazon said it would store goods at its facilities in Greater Sao Paulo, the source added.
Reporting by Gabriela Mello; writing by Brad Haynes; editing by Christian Plumb, Rosalba O'Brien and Jonathan Oatis