Amazon smart-locker in Houston, Texas. Photo: Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock.
Business

Brazilian e-commerce has 1 million new customers and urgently wants new rules for omnichannel

If Congress passes a bill with the required changes, the sector will be able to sell 25% more and serve consumers who live in cities where delivery services do not reach

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Since March, when measures of social isolation began as a way to curb infections by the new coronavirus in the country, Brazilian e-commerce has lived days of accelerated development. According to the Brazilian Electronic Commerce Association (Abcomm), more than 80,000 new retailers have made their debut in the online universe in recent weeks and those who already sold on the Internet started to serve a new audience: at least 1 million new customers who, having no other alternative at the moment ventured into e-commerce.

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Faced with this scenario, the sector requests that the lower house of the National Congress urgently consider the bill 148/2019, which seeks to reduce bureaucracy around the omnichannel operation in the country.

As LABS showed in August last year, the bill proposes a tax update that, among other points, facilitates the opening of click and collect points for products purchased online and allows for less costly reverse logistics for e-commerce (a cost which is invariably passed on to the consumer today).

Currently, to open a point of collection and withdrawal of products, Brazilian e-businesses need to create a specific registration number for that location, which also generates expenses and taxes related to the operation of that location. Another way to circumvent bureaucracy is to enter into partnerships with other companies that can serve as a collection point, such as Inpost, Pegaki, and Clique Retire, companies that offer smart-lockers in Brazil and are specialized in this type of solution a la Amazon.

In the U.S., the American giant today has more than 2,000 smart-lockers, but it also offers the service in European countries and, more recently, has been experimenting with the solution in emerging countries such as India. Through the Amazon system, those who live in one of the cities that offer the service can register a locker as an address at the time of purchase.

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Those who operate in the physical world can also make physical stores a collection point, as is the case with the Brazilian clothing and accessories retailers Amaro, C&A, or Renner. But those who sell only online and are not authorized to operate physically cannot simply accredit partner establishments as collection and withdrawal points, a limitation to multichannel operations in the country.

By establishing a simpler tax regime for this operation, the process becomes less bureaucratic and costly. At the same time, those who withdraw can also easily return the product, which would pave the way for more efficient reverse logistics. Today, Brazilian law does not authorize the issuance of a return invoice for repentance or dissatisfaction, only for guarantee or exchange. With the absence of this legal provision, e-commerces end up paying taxes on a purchase that has not been actually made.

The solution would be similar to that used today by freight and storage companies in the country, which operate as loyal depositaries for the goods traded to them entrusted during the delivery or storage service. Today, this type of service does not generate any new invoice issuing on the commercialized goods, only on the (delivery or storage) service itself.

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With the proposed changes, companies would also be able to serve consumers who do not have a formal address or live in a location where the postal services simply do not reach. And there are many in a continental country like Brazil. Freight costs, in general, would also fall with the popularization of this withdrawal option.

Estimates made in 2019 point out that these changes could increase e-commerce sales by 25% (or 75 million more orders). From last year until now, the project has passed through all the committees of the lower house in Congress, and, since February, it is ready to be voted on in the plenary.

“The omnichannel is now blocked in some regions of the country that have no address or that delivery trucks do not reach for other reasons. If people can buy and pick up at any point, such as at the gas station, or at a pharmacy close to their home, it will help the sector a lot. Now we have to convince Rodrigo Maia (the president of the lower house of the National Congress) that this is, more than ever, an important project to be considered”, said the president of Abcomm, MauricioSalvador, to LABS. Once approved by the House, the bill also needs to pass the Senate.