OLIVIER SIEUZAC

Mexico 2021 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

Linio is the first real B2C marketplace in the region, and with more people in Mexico starting to buy online, e-commerce is set to boom.

Olivier Sieuzac
BIOGRAPHY

Olivier Sieuzac joined Linio in 2014 as the group's CFO. During his time as CFO, he contributed to the development of a more efficient company, playing a fundamental role in the definition and execution of the company's strategy and its assignation of financial and human resources. He previously oversaw a variety of leadership roles in General Electric for over 15 years and lived in over 11 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. He was one of the founders of the online bank created by GE Capital in the UK.

What challenges did Linio face being one of the first e-commerce platforms in Mexico?

We created Linio in 2012 and were the first large-scale venture in e-commerce in Latin America; we went from being a local player in Mexico to a Latin American player with operations in more than five countries in the largest markets in Latin America. Our focus was initially on Spanish-speaking Latam so we had operations in Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Panama, and Ecuador as well as offices in China and the US. Mexico as an e-commerce market is the largest in Latin America next to Brazil, but companies have to take into account the fact that it has not been touched by any sort of digitalization. Latin America is far behind in terms of e-commerce, with Chile and Argentina being slightly ahead and Brazil ahead of Mexico. When we entered in 2012, the biggest challenge was that there was absolutely no setup ready for e-commerce and no e-commerce business operating B2C on a large scale. Another challenge is finding products in Mexico. The big cities are fairly good at offering access to many products but this is not the case in other parts of the country. With the growth in e-commerce and tech-based solutions in a digital world, many companies are also fighting for a limited pool of talent, and we sometimes have to look for global solutions. Some challenges still remain even though we have solved most of them. One challenge was online payment and fraud, which is still a significant challenge and specific to Mexico. The second piece, which is more alarming, is that there are still higher than average online losses through fraud. That is a significant Mexican issue where we need to find a better solution, as it has to do with how banks deal with risk and how we keep putting the weight of the loss of the risk on the retailer.

What are your main priorities to stand out from other competitors in the market?

We have seen a strong increase in e-commerce; today e-commerce comprises 6-7% of total retail in Mexico compared to around 16% in the US, 30% in the UK, and 25% in China. E-commerce has been growing between 30 and 40%, and it is expected that Mexico will see a decline of GDP of around 10%; however, e-commerce is booming as people have started buying online. We are still at the nascent stage of the industry, and there are still many opportunities for different players. Linio is the first real B2C marketplace in the region. We offer companies the ability to sell products online where we charge a commission for what they are selling. We put them in touch with the customers we are driving to our website, so the marketplace model is different from the retail model, where a retailer sells their own products. We are actually a formal marketplace; we do not just let any company sell their products on Linio and select them according to our criteria. If the customer is not satisfied, they can return their product for free; we are the first in the country to offer this to our customers. One of the main obstacles to e-commerce is trust, as we want to be sure that what customers are seeing on the website is what they will get. That is why we select the companies to ensure that they can guarantee the best product possible.

Are you focused on selling more Latin American or international brands?

It is a mix of both and depends on the category, as many still depend on foreign brands. However, there are many emerging local brands, especially in health, beauty, and fashion, that are using e-commerce channels to increase their sales and presence. We are extremely open and do not limit the marketplace to only local or foreign players.