Getting to Know Costa Rica’s E-Commerce Market

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Article E-commerce Data Portrait Costa Rica Blog post

Latest update: January 2024

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Get a fresh perspective on the e-commerce market in Costa Rica. This article presents exclusive data from our PCMI E-Commerce Data Library for Latin America, complemented by external resources carefully curated by our team. We aim to provide to-the-point data as a quick resource for payment professionals and analysts.

The following information is also available in an infographic PDF that you can conveniently download below. You might also want to check out our other country reports here.

Cover PCMI Report E-commerce Data Portrait Costa Rica 2024

Current State of E-commerce in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the most prominent e-commerce market in Central America, with a sales volume reaching US$5.5 billion in 2023, according to transactional data from PCMI. It is expected that between 2023 and 2026, e-commerce in Costa Rica will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21%, reaching US$9.7 billion.

Part of the success in online sales in Costa Rica is attributed to its highly banked population, with 82% of adults already having a bank or fintech account, according to PCMI. Likewise, it is estimated that 4 out of 5 adults in Costa Rica, or 80%, already buy online.

Profiling the Costa Rican Online Buyer

Profiling the Costa Rican Online Buyer

While this overall picture is important, focusing on the consumer behavior delivers a deeper understanding of the market drivers:

Spending. On average, each Costa Rican spends US$1,062 a year on e-commerce, according to PCMI. In fact, the Centro de Investigación Observatorio del Desarrollo (CIOdD) reveals than most e-shoppers in Costa Rica (65%) have a monthly salary higher than 500,000 CRC, which is about US$800.

Household context. According to the survey from the CIOdD, 41% of online consumers in Costa Rica are the main breadwinners in their households.

Age range. 44.4% of online shoppers in Costa Rica fall within the 18-34 years age group.

Costa Rica E-Commerce Payment Methods and Devices

Costa Rica E-Commerce Payment Methods and Devices

According to PCMI’s E-commerce Data Library, the primary payment methods for e-commerce in Costa Rica, by share of volume, are:

  1. Internationally-enabled credit card — 64%
  2. Debit card — 17%
  3. Bank transfers — 10%
  4. Other* — 4%
  5. Digital wallet — 3%
  6. Domestic-only credit card — 1%

*Includes gift cards, pay-on-delivery, and other miscellaneous payment methods.

It is also important to track the device:

  • 71% of e-commerce volume in Costa Rica comes from purchases in mobile devices
  • 29% of e-commerce volume in Costa Rica comes from purchases in desktop
Top-Selling Categories in E-Commerce in Costa Rica

Categories of Best-Selling E-Commerce Products in Costa Rica

This is the ranking of the best-selling products online in Costa Rica:

  1. Meals (from restaurants)
  2. Clothing and footwear
  3. Personal care products
  4. Food and groceries
  5. Technology products

That data is based on the share of consumers who have purchased those products in the last 6 months, according to CIOdD.

Key Insights Ecommerce into Costa Rican E-commerce Market

Key Insights into the Costa Rican E-commerce Market

Lastly, there are some key insights about e-commerce and payments in Costa Rica:

The Central Bank of Costa Rica is working with Central American governments to enable cross-border payments through SINPE, a RTP solution.

Costa Rica has a significant proportion of cross-border e-commerce, equivalent to 49% of the sales volume, while sales from local stores make up the remaining 51%. The cross-border e-commerce market is projected to grow by 24% in 2024 and by 2026, will surpass domestic sales.

E-commerce significantly influences Costa Rica’s economy, accounting for 7% of the country’s GDP.

Next Step:

The PCMI E-Commerce Data Library

The data provided in this report is part of PCMI’s Latin America E-commerce Data Library. The Library covers not only Costa Rica but also 14 other countries in Latin America, featuring e-commerce market data such as:

  • Historical volume of Costa Rica’s e-commerce market for 2022, 2021 and further back

  • Projections of Costa Rica’s e-commerce market volume for 2023-2026

  • Breakdowns by merchant vertical for e-commerce in Costa Rica: retail, travel, ride-hailing, digital goods and services like streaming

  • Data on both cross-border and domestic e-commerce purchases in Costa Rica for 2022 and projections for 2023 and beyond

  • Breakdowns and projections of payment methods used in Costa Rica e-commerce (international/domestic credit cards, Buy Now Pay Later, digital wallets and others)

Other key advantages make the PCMI E-commerce Data Library for Latin America a uniquely powerful tool for companies that seek a fuller understanding of e-commerce in the region:

  • It’s customizable to client needs: you can obtain additional data you need for your company’s specific business concerns, beyond what the Library offers

  • It’s budget-friendly: while detailed reports are available for 15 Latin American countries, you can just buy data on just 1 or save money by purchasing a country bundle

  • It includes personalized guidance: every purchase of the Library entitles you to a free 1-hour consultation about the data with one of PCMI’s industry experts

  • It offers unlimited sharing: there is no single-user license with the PCMI E-commerce Data Library for Latin America, so you can share it freely with your organization

Keep up to date with our e-commerce, payments and crypto insights:

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Payments and Commerce Market Intelligence (PCMI) is a strategy consultancy specializing in the global payments industry.