In large urban metropolises in Latin America, “convenience is a luxury,” says Sebastian Mejia, CEO and founder of Rappi, a last-mile delivery service. In Sao Paolo, he notes, public transportation is so insufficient that some locals take to flying by helicopter from one part of the city to another. It’s little surprise that consumers in this environment expected deliveries to take seven to ten days, a far cry from Amazon’s same-day service.

But even as mobility was challenging, mobile phones, and specifically smartphones, had a very high market penetration. Mejia started Rappi as a delivery service that would reduce delivery ties by pairing smartphones with bike couriers, who also accepted cash, since many customers didn’t have credit cards. It ended up luring consumers, leapfrogging them to a mobile environment and capturing data it could share with business customers who could forecast product sales and plan marketing campaigns. 

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