When looking at the e-commerce channel, Finns have not previously been as keen shoppers as their Nordic neighbors in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Although the gap is narrowing quickly and the market is growing rapidly, there is still space in several segments for new players. What characteristics are typical to the Finnish e-commerce industry and consumer behavior online?
The market in numbers
The tech-savvy country of Finland has been one of the leading countries for adopting new technologies such as the use of mobile phones and mobile technology in the 90’s. Also, according to recent study by Statistics Finland, the share of Internet users among the whole population aged 16 to 74 is 90 % and as many as 49 % of the same group has a smart phone in own use.
The Finns are adapting to online shopping rapidly as well, even though the growth did not start as early as in the other Nordic countries. Still, approximately two thirds of the Finnish population shopped online during 2011 and the number is growing this year. Online shopping is continuing to be more popular among young adults than any other age group. Two-thirds of those aged 25 to 34 had bought something over the Internet during the past three months compared to one-tenth among those ages 65 to 74. (Statistics Finland). The market as a whole has been growing at a rate of around 13 – 18 % annually for several years depending on the research and year that you are looking at.
The turnover of e-Commerce in Finland was approximately € 10.1 billion in 2011 if you view the numbers consisting of both domestic commerce (87 %) and foreign commerce (13 %) including the sales of goods (47 %), services (52 %) and content (1 %). (Verkkokauppatilasto 2011; TNS Gallup Oy, ASML, Federation of Finnish Commerce)
In other words, roughly € 1.35 billion worth of goods and services was bought from foreign online stores. Finns primarily make e-commerce purchases from the USA, the UK and Germany, but among the Finns who shop online, around 20 % has bought from Swedish web shops. (Posten Norden, E-commerce in the Nordics 2011). One reason behind this is that many Finns understand the Swedish language quite well and that a large number of Swedish web shops allow the consumer to shop in Finnish. Only a small percentage of Finns have shopped in Danish and Norwegian online stores.
The most commonly bought services, according to the study by Statistics Finland, include tourism related services and tickets. In the goods category clothes, shoes and hobby related products are the biggest sellers nowadays, but some reports still place home electronics and vehicle-related products as the best-selling categories online in Finland.
Over 3 million Finns buy online, which means that only approximately 25% of Finnish adults have not yet done so. (NetTrack 2012, TNS Gallup Oy). As the percentage of goods and services being bought from foreign stores is as big as it is, this means that there is great potential for entering the Finnish market as a foreign web shop. There are, however, a few things you should take into account when planning on entering the Finnish market.
Consumer behavior and legal issues to bear in mind
1. Approximately 64 % of Finns used the e-payment services of Finnish Banks when purchasing online during 2011 according to a study by TNS Gallup Oy (Online Shopping 2011). This means that Finland is the only Nordic country where a card payment is not the most commonly used payment method. The second and third most commonly used payment methods were invoice (39 %) and cards (38 %).
2. In Finland, distance sales consumers have a near-universal right to return purchased goods within two weeks of purchase. Furthermore, compared to Sweden for example, the merchant operating in Finland is at least so far liable to refund the whole sum paid, including any return and shipping costs, to the consumer. In the near future, when the new EU directive is realized, there might be some changes to this regulation.
3. Finns typically accept significantly longer delivery times than e.g. Swedish and Danish consumers even though convenience is the biggest reason that Finns do shop online. A larger product selection and lower prices are major reasons for online shopping.
Please contact Jacob Segercrantz, Sales Director Sweden at Payment Trust Finland | Suomen Maksuturva Oy, if you would like to discuss the Finnish e-commerce market in more detail, or if you plan to expand your online shop to Finland.
+358 40 562 9802