Ecommerce in the Nordics 2013

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Earlier this month Ecommerce Europe received the report “Ecommerce in the Nordics 2013” published by PostNord, the postal group formed by the merger of the Danish and the Swedish Post. The (as always interesting) survey reveals that 14.4 million consumers in the Nordic region bought goods online in 2012, and that 4.2 million did it at least once a month. PostNord believes that Nordic e-commerce grew by around 15 per cent last year and that Nordic residents purchased goods online to a value of around 10.9 billion euros.

According to our reports, the e-barometer and the Danish e-commerce analysis (published by FDIH in collaboration with Post Denmark and Nets), growth in 2012 was 14 per cent for domestic e-commerce in Sweden and Denmark respectively.

More and more it is increasingly common for consumers to look beyond their national borders to access a wider offer to choose from or to find lower prices than are available at home. This makes the Nordic market increasingly attractive to international e-commerce companies.

As the German e-commerce company Zalando mentions in the report, Nordic residents are generally open-minded about trying new things and are therefore often an excellent test market when a company is looking to expand internationally.

Nordic consumers choose to shop online primarily because it’s easy, saves time and can be done when it suits the consumer. The route to a purchase often goes via search engines and comparison sites, although product catalogues dropping through the letterbox are (still) important for many.

However, despite the similarities, there are also clear differences between the behaviour
of different Nordic consumers, depending on their country of origin. Companies that
want to do business in the Nordic region must be aware that there are four different markets, which therefore all four need a different approach.

“As well as differences in language and currency, there are also behavioural differences. One of the biggest differences is how they prefer to pay in each country,” says Carsten Dalbo, Head of Logistics at PostNord in Danmark. While Swedes like to pay after having received the goods against an invoice, Norwegians and Danes prefer to pay by debit or credit card. Finns, on the other hand, choose in the first instance to pay directly through their bank.

Distribution is another area in which the preferences differ. In contrast to Danes, who prefer to have products delivered to their homes, Swedes, Norwegians and Finns don’t have too many objections to picking up a parcel they’ve ordered at a collection point. But there is nevertheless a general trend towards more people wanting the goods delivered.

Home electronics, clothing and books are the three product categories that by far the most online shoppers bought in 2012. The sequence at the top of the list does, however, vary between the countries. Books top the list in Sweden, bought by 48 per cent of those who shopped online in 2012. Clothing comes top in Finland (40%). Half of all Norwegians and Danes who shopped online bought home electronics. About 6.3 million Nordic residents bought home electronics online in 2012. Of these, 36 per cent were Swedes, 25 per cent Danes, 24 per cent Norwegians and
15 per cent Finns.

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