April 3, 2018 / 6:36 PM / 8 months ago

Brazil's B2W offers vendors free perks as e-commerce war heats up

SAO PAULO, April 3 (Reuters) - B2W Companhia Digital SA , one of Brazil's largest online retailers, said it was planning to allow its third-party vendors to use a distribution center free of charge as it seeks to gain an edge in an increasingly competitive e-commerce market.

Vendors will be able to use 105,000 square meters (126,000 square yards) of space in a center in Sao Paulo through the end of the year, with an expansion possible at a later date, Chief Financial Officer Fabio Abrate told Reuters.

"We're looking at this initiative as a beginning. We have 11 distribution centers in five states," he said.

B2W is among a slew of Brazilian online retailers that saw their shares soar in 2017, boosted by a consumer-led turnaround and tech-savvy strategies. But some investors have been spooked in recent months as Amazon.com Inc shows signs of expanding in Latin America's largest economy.

As well as selling products of discount retailer Lojas Americanas SA, which controls the company, B2W runs a marketplace platform on which third-party retailers offer their products. The company says it wants to increase the share of that business to over 50 percent of its total sales value in 2018, up from 35 percent in 2017.

B2W ended 2017 with about 10,000 vendors on its platform, a number it said it wants to increase to 20,000 by the end of this year. (Reporting by Flavia Bohone; writing by Gram Slattery, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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