Selling on Mercado Libre: The Ultimate Guide

Kevin Lamb

October 21, 2021

A lot of ecommerce brands look to China to expand internationally while overlooking Latin America. But with the help of Latin America’s largest online retail platform Mercado Libre, brands can pivot to a less crowded market that offers an almost greenfield opportunity for growth.

In 2020, Latin America’s retail ecommerce sales grew by 36.7%. That’s higher than any other world region, including Asia-Pacific, which grew 26.4%, and North America, which grew 31.7%. Latin American countries also have some of the highest internet penetration rates in the world. Brazil’s is 68% and Mexico’s is 70%. Couple this with the fact that Mexico’s population is 127.6 million and Brazil’s is 212 million and the opportunities for growth here are undeniable.

In this article, we’ll go over the what, who, why, and how of Mercado Libre, so you can take full advantage of Latin America’s growing ecommerce market.

What is Mercado Libre?

Mercado Libre is Latin America’s largest ecommerce platform. The name Mercado Libre translates literally to “free market.” And it’s easy to see why. The ecommerce platform has 63 million active users across 18 different countries. It’s one of the top 10 most visited ecommerce sites in the world and as of the first quarter of 2021, it had 299.5 million live listings. It’s no wonder the platform is valued at 77.49 billion USD.

Since its founding in 1999, Mercado Libre has expanded to integrate different ecommerce services, including a shipping service (Mercado Envios), a payment platform (Mercado Pago), a credit line (Mercado Crédito), and an advertising program (Mercado Publicado). Together, these create a full ecommerce experience for Latin American consumers.

So why sell on Mercado Libre? For one, Mercado Libre helps you establish brand awareness outside the US. Latin America is close enough that the low cost barrier to enter makes it an attractive opportunity for taking your brand into the global marketplace. Plus, you’ll benefit from more incremental sales and revenue. Mercado Libre customers overlap less with customers on other ecommerce platforms than, say, Amazon customers do with Walmart Marketplace customers. So you’ll get more from joining Mercado Libre as a seller.

How to sell on Mercado Libre


Mercado Libre is open to US sellers through its cross-border Global Selling Program. With it, you can sell to customers in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Columbia from one account. But keep in mind, the Global Selling Program is invite only. That means you’ll need to apply to join. To apply, you’ll just need some basic information, including your business’s website URL and its monthly sales in USD.

Listing products on Mercado Libre

Once your application is approved, you can start listing products on your Seller account with an excel spreadsheet template or an application programming interface (API). Just be careful not to list any restricted products. Mercado Libre provides a detailed list of restricted products by product category, where you’ll find that restrictions vary by country and fulfillment type.

While listing products is free, selling items comes with selling fees. When you make a sale, Mercado Libre takes a percentage cut that varies by product category and country. Each country also has different minimum listing prices. That means you can’t sell products below a certain price threshold. Try bundling smaller items into a larger package if you need to bump the price over the minimum listing price.

Payment on Mercado Libre

Mercado Libre customers have different payment options. One of the most popular is interest-free installment plans. Bear this in mind as you’ll be required to offer it. Other payment options include mobile Point of Sale (mPOS), digital wallet QR payments, prepaid cards, and credit.

What about different currencies? Fortunately, Mercado Libre has you covered. They allow you to set listing prices in USD and get paid in USD. The platform automatically converts your listings’ USD prices into your customers’ local currency. That way, you don’t have to worry about exchange rates and so on. Just process everything in USD from start to finish. You can withdraw your earnings every 2 weeks if they amount to at least $500. If not, you’ll have to wait until you reach this amount to withdraw. You can transfer payments to a Payoneer account or directly to your bank account.

Language translation on Mercado Libre

In addition to taking care of currency conversions, Mercado Libre softens the language barrier for you with an automated translation tool. It lets you communicate with Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking customers in English by handling all the translation work behind the scenes. This is a great feature that takes some of the stress out of expanding into new countries and foreign markets.

Shipping and logistics on Mercado Libre

When it comes to shipping your products to Latin America, you have two options:

First, you can take advantage of Mercado Envios Full, a comprehensive fulfillment service similar to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS). It allows you to store your inventory in Mercado Libre warehouses and handles the entire logistics process, including picking, packaging, and shipping. What’s more, Mercado Envios Full is free with the avoidable exceptions of long-term storage and pickup stock fees.

Second, if you’d rather ship your products to customers directly, you can choose Mercado Envios Direct to consumers. It partners with international carriers DHL and MailAmericas. Just bear in mind that both carriers have different package size and weight restrictions. With this fulfillment option, your Seller account automatically generates a shipping label when an order is placed. Print the label and attach it to the order, which you’ll need to ship to DHL or MailAmericas within 3 business days. They’ll then deliver the product to the buyer within their own shipping time frames.

Tips for successfully selling on Mercado Libre

Now that you know how to sell on Mercado Libre, let’s go over how to be successful on the platform. Mercado Libre marketplace has a Seller Reputation System that measures your seller performance and quality along a color scale from red (low) to green (high). To stay in the green, you’ll need to reply to customers within 24 hours, minimize the number of quality complaints your products get, keep order cancellations under 3%, and handle shipments within 3 days.

If you perform well on Seller Reputation metrics, you’ll rank higher on the platform’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and you could save up to 60% in shipping costs. In fact, we’ve found Seller Reputation to be the number one driver of search engine optimization (SEO) on Mercado Libre. For example, we researched the keyword “bomber jacket” and found that the top result had fewer reviews and was twice as expensive as the other top five listings. What made the difference? The top listing’s seller had the highest Seller Reputation. So score high on your Seller Reputation if you really want to give your listings a boost.

Mercado Libre also offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to help you increase your sales. So far, the advertising tool is pretty simple, but it can help you attract new customers. Users will see your ads in search results and on product pages as sponsored ads.

Partnering with Pattern

Ultimately, success on Mercado Libre comes with experience. If you need help expanding into the Latin American ecommerce marketplace, Pattern can help. Our marketplace experts have helped brands successfully launch products online into Mexico and Brazil, for example. We’ve also specialized in shipping health and beauty products following the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency ANIVISA’s strict import regulations. We know all the ins and outs of Latin American ecommerce.

Plus, our brand management helps brands grow revenue by an average of 30% in their first year. We can do this by analyzing which of your products would make a good fit for the Latin American market, providing estimates on annual revenue and potential duties, taxes, and non-tariff barriers, and giving you strategies on gaining market share in your product’s category. Learn more about Mercado Libre in our on-demand webinar or Request a demo of our ecommerce acceleration platform today.

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Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears
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Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears

**Instrument Pricing Changes Tune Amid Record Inflation** Compared to 2022, consumers should expect to pay more for musical instruments, but the rate of inflation shows signs of slowing. **The backstory:** America’s most popular musical instruments saw a notable price increase in 2022 compared to 2021, but the rate of inflation eased in Q4 ’22. **Why it matters:** Slowing inflation within this product category could indicate economic pressures like increased demand, rising labor costs, and supply chain disruptions are easing across the consumer landscape. **What we’re seeing:** The average cost of musical instruments increased 7.5% from 2021 – 2022; however, when analyzing individual increases year over year, some instruments saw price increases as high as 21%. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-02Lwk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/02Lwk/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones experienced a 21.73% increase compared to 2021 * Trumpets +20.08% * Flutes +18.6% * Recorders +16.13% * Saxophones +13.63% * Clarinets +10.55% * Drums +5.41% * Ukuleles +5.17% **However:** Inflation among these same instruments was significantly less in Q4 ’22 compared to Q4 ’21. In some cases, prices decreased from Q4 ’21 – Q4 ‘22: <iframe title="Price Change for Instruments — Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-6X6GZ" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6X6GZ/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones +11.23% * Flutes +10.41% * Saxophones +5.94% * Clarinets +5.59% * Trumpets +3.10% * Recorders +2.85% * Drums -2.59% * Ukuleles -8.46% **Moreover:** Certain instruments saw inflation reverse in 2022. On average, prices for melodicas, guitars, and violas saw their prices decrease by 4.41%, 3.19%, and 0.97%, respectively. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-0Tefk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0Tefk/3/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="259" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **Diving Deeper:** Inflation was more significant when comparing Q4 ’21 to Q4 ’20 than when comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, indicating a slowing down of price increases for consumers. <iframe title="YOY Q4 Price Change for Instruments — 2020 – 2022" aria-label="Stacked Bars" id="datawrapper-chart-p6iqt" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/p6iqt/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="206" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * In Q4 ’21, average prices for all instruments were up 8.89% compared to Q4 ’20. * When comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, the average price for all instruments only increased by 2.65%. **The takeaway:** While consumers should expect to pay higher prices for instruments this year, overall inflation impact within this product category appears to be slowing down. With National Ukulele Day coming up on February 2, now is a great time for ecommerce brands to take advantage of slowing economic worries and reach new consumers. * Want Pattern’s data science team to power your brand with consumer insights like these? Contact us to [request more information](https://pattern.com/contact-us/) today.

Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us
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Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us

It’s safe to say consumers and brands alike are eager for a change to the pattern of rising inflation, steadily increasing in many ecommerce categories . Pattern’s internal team’s data scientists analysis of instrument pricing shows a glimmer of hope that inflation may be slowing, which would be great news for brands selling online.

At Pattern, we’re interested in and monitoring trends and news related to pricing since price is a key factor in a brand’s profitability (as explained in the Ecommerce Equation). When brands are able to optimize their price, conversions, and traffic, they can optimize their profitability. And profitability leads to better allocation of resources, better brand control, and gives leaders the ability to expand their presence to new markets worldwide.

YoY Instrument Pricing Increased at a Slower Pace

When analyzing the pricing changes of instruments from 2021 to 2022, our teams found that prices increased, but at a slower rate than from 2020 to 2021.

As shown below, the year over year Q4 changes show quite a lower rate of increase.

Inflation Improvements Raise Profitability

Because inflation impacts online shopping behaviors, lower inflation can lead to better overall profitability for brands. This idea, of course, is nuanced, but Pattern’s Ecommerce Equation can help illustrate the general principle.

When inflation rises, consumers change their spending habits. Shoppers spend more time researching products, forego premium, higher-priced brands, and buy more in bulk. Brands tend to see a loss of loyalty as they’re forced to raise prices.

Price is a key variable in the Ecommerce Equation: price x conversion x traffic = profitability. As inflation lowers, brands can expect better performance in all of these areas—more traffic as spending habits return to normal, higher conversion from returning customers, and price that better fits consumer demand. As inflation lowers and these variables stabilize, brands will see profitability increase.

Raise Your Profitability with Pattern

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern is obsessed with gathering data that helps our brand partners succeed. We’ve created best-in-class technology, models, and analytics to understand changes on the horizon and inform our decisions. With an incredible team of data obsessed Pattern employees, we see what makes the difference in truly great ecommerce performance and apply those learnings for brand partners. 

Ready to improve your profitability? Contact us here.

Inflation hits LEGO, but lighter than you’d suspect
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Inflation hits LEGO, but lighter than you’d suspect

**Some sets get more expensive, while others become cheaper** In June 2022, LEGO announced it would be increasing the prices of their sets. Ever since, consumers anticipated their favorite plastic construction toy prices to increase [by as much as 25%](https://9to5toys.com/2022/06/02/lego-officially-confirms-price-increases-coming-to-most-sets-later-this-fall/). **Why it matters:** Consumers are feeling the sting of inflation in all areas of their lives, from groceries and gas to entertainment. With LEGO Day right around the corner (January 28th), fans may wonder whether it’s a good time to purchase a set. **What we’re seeing:** While inflation continues to ravage the economy, consumers are seeing a small reprieve when it comes to the pricing of LEGO sets. Despite the anticipated 25% price increase, average prices among the top LEGO sets only increased by 4.7% year over year when comparing Q4 2022 to Q4 2021. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for All LEGO Sets – 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Interactive line chart" id="datawrapper-chart-3gn9L" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/3gn9L/3/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="393" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * During this same period, annual prices for some of the most popular LEGO sets were up as much as 23%. <iframe title="U.S. Price Change for LEGO Sets – Q4 22 vs. Q4 21" aria-label="Split Bars" id="datawrapper-chart-vh7B2" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/vh7B2/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="708" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **Yes, but:** Prices of other popular sets were down by as much as -12% during this same period. Depending on the kit, consumers might actually find some popular LEGO sets have gotten less expensive since 2021: * LEGO Star Wars Imperial Probe Droid was down -6% in Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2021 * LEGO Creator Tuk Tuk was down -7% * LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Millennium Falcon was down -10% * LEGO Ideas Tree House Business Kit was down -12% **However:** Even for the sets that experienced a price decrease, the decrease was less significant in Q4 2022 as set prices increased across the board following the June 2022 announcement. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Individual LEGO Sets – 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Interactive line chart" id="datawrapper-chart-KjSXz" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/KjSXz/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="400" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **The takeaway:** While prices didn’t increase as much as consumers anticipated, inflation still had an effect on the cost of LEGO sets. As ecommerce brands prepare for increased demand ahead of LEGO Day, they could increase customer interest in all sets by promoting the sets that have seen a price decrease. * Pattern’s data science team analyzes consumer demand on Amazon to understand how economic forces impact pricing and shopping behavior. If you’re interested in using insights like these to propel your ecommerce strategy forward, [contact our team today. ](https://pattern.com/contact-us/)