Direct marketing is rapidly gaining popularity in Colombia. Its growth has been fueled by such factors as technological advances in printing and distribution, the spread of cable TV, the increased use of credit cards and flexible payment plans, and changing lifestyles. Other factors include: more women are entering the job market and people seeking ways to save time in making household purchases. Many stores and large distributors are producing their own catalogs for phone, mail orders, e-mail, or the web with products that can be paid for with cash, check, debit or credit cards.
E-commerce is a viable marketing alternative. The Commercial Service suggests that U.S. companies consult a local attorney before entering into e-commerce sales or contractual agreements. Internet users, Internet, and catalog sales in Colombia are growing rapidly. Although on-line shopping has not spread as quickly as in other countries, courier services are available for legal credit card purchases in the United States to be shipped to addresses in Florida and then on to Colombia. Direct shipping to Colombia is also an option.
International direct marketing is becoming more popular in Colombia. U.S. firms can take advantage of improved legislation for postal, express, and courier shipments. The Colombia Customs Code contains postal and courier shipping rules. Certain postal shipments (correspondence, postcards, and printed materials) are exempt from licensing requirements and payment of duties. At present, courier or express shipments with a value of less than USD 1,000 and a weight of under 20 kilograms are freely imported and classified under HS 98.03.00.00.00, but are subject to a 10 percent Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) tariff and 16 percent VAT on the CIF-duty-paid value of shipments. Rules apply to both air and surface shipments. The Colombian Congress passed the new postal law in December 2009. The implementing legislation has yet to be signed by President Uribe. Firms are advised to re-check existing regulations to determine the impact of the proposed changes on their business plans.