Online retailers should put up a ‘Se habla español’ sign


As a follow up a previous post post, Five Reasons for Using Spanish to Reach Hispanics Online, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Hispanic e-commerce landscape given that few leading online retailers are proactively targeting Spanish preferring and bilingual online Hispanics. The results should be eye opening for online retailers.

According to comScore, in the past 12 months, the US Hispanic online market has grown significantly while the US general online market has actually declined.

US Online market growth by segment May 2010 – May 2011

• Non-Hispanic -2%
• Hispanic English 12%
• Hispanic Bilingual 21%
• Hispanic Spanish 17%

As Hispanics become more comfortable and trusting of the Internet, they will also explore retail websites to research and purchase products. In fact, this is already happening:

Retail websites traffic growth by segment May 2010 – May 2011

• Non-Hispanic 7%
• Hispanic English 22%
• Hispanic Bilingual 28%
• Hispanic Spanish 27%

So which online retailers are benefiting from this growth? I analyzed the five most visited retail sites and found that for three of them,, and are taking advantage of the booming Hispanic online market. The other two, and, actually saw declines in overall traffic, including among Hispanics. Below I’ll try to explain what is taking place, but first let’s take a look at the data, which shows traffic growth by segment from May 2010 – May 2011 for each retailer:

• Non-Hispanic 51%
• Hispanic English 36%
• Hispanic Bilingual 122%
• Hispanic Spanish 208%

• Non-Hispanic 16%
• Hispanic English 37%
• Hispanic Bilingual 30%
• Hispanic Spanish 45%

• Non-Hispanic -8%
• Hispanic English 12%
• Hispanic Bilingual 22%
• Hispanic Spanish 14%

• Non-Hispanic -2%
• Hispanic English -6%
• Hispanic Bilingual 5%
• Hispanic Spanish -4%

• Non-Hispanic -18%
• Hispanic English -17%
• Hispanic Bilingual -4%
• Hispanic Spanish -8%

The clear winner of this group is Netflix, which has experienced meteoric growth among Spanish preferring and bilingual Hispanics in the past year. Spanish preferring and bilingual online Hispanics are young and very likely to have kids representing a strong segment for Netflix. Although does not offer a Spanish language experience on its website, it did proactively target Hispanics via online advertising in the past year.

Next to Netflix, had a strong year across all Hispanic online market segments. Of the large online retailers, Best Buy is the only one to offer a complete Spanish language version of their website. They also draw traffic to the site through an integrated Spanish language marketing effort.

Rounding out the list of winners is Wal-Mart who posted gains in Hispanic visitors while non-Hispanic traffic declined. does offer Spanish content on its website through its “Ahorra más. Vive mejor campaign” and also markets aggressively in Spanish.

As for those sites that experienced declines in traffic?

Both and experienced drops in non-Hispanic traffic over the past twelve months, but it is surprising that they saw declines across most Hispanic online segments. Then again, neither offers a Spanish language experience and their site or executes a targeted Hispanic online advertising.

The data shows that online retailers should consider putting up a “Se habla español” sign.

In most cases I don’t think it makes sense to provide a complete Spanish language version of an e-commerce site, but targeted Hispanic advertising including social media, Spanish language customer support and relevant Spanish language content can go a long way in building relationships with online Hispanics.

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