As the online environment allows selling worldwide without building traditional brick-and-mortar stores to every country, expanding the ecommerce business abroad is becoming increasingly tempting. Finland among other Scandinavian countries is an interesting market area: according to statistics Finland has comparatively high purchasing power and it can also be seen as a gateway to Russia. We interviewed a Swedish ecommerce service provider and a web store to hear out their thoughts about selling to Finland online.
Jonas Karlsson, the Marketing and Sales Manager of Askås, says there is clearly a bigger interest from the Swedish web stores to expand abroad now than a few years ago. Also, the internationalization process starts earlier in the life cycle of web shops than before. As it is usually easiest to start from your neighbors, for a Swedish web shop Norway, Denmark and Finland are normally the first new markets to conquer.
For instance one of Askås’ customer, Lekmer, has expanded its business to these countries. Lekmer is an online toy store and a part of CDON Group, one of the leading ecommerce corporations in the Nordic area. Lekmer has built its success on offering high usability, fast deliveries, high-quality service and popular, correctly prices toys. The company was founded in 2006.
Patric Palmefjord from Lekmer tells that thanks to the fact that The Nordic countries are in many ways similar to each other, expanding to the neighboring countries was a relatively easy step in order to reach more potential customers with the same assortment. This is why Lekmer’s strategy was to expand fast in order to cover the whole Nordic area. By doing so it would be one step closer in reaching the mission of becoming the biggest online toy store within Scandinavia.
However, there are always some obstacles in the way, as Karlsson points out:
“Entering a new market is a rather big challenge regardless of which one you choose to start with. Even though Finland and Sweden in many ways are quite similar there are differences that need to be taken into account for a successful launch in Finland. The overall biggest challenge regardless of market is usually the cost for translation of content to new languages. For instance with the Finnish language you need to take into account that it is a ‘long’ language that may even affect the design of the web shop.
Other obvious considerations are of course to provide relevant payment methods and make sure that the complete order process is taken care of in a way that corresponds to the customers’ expectations and the brand values of the web store.”
Whether you are a web store or an ecommerce service provider, the greatest competitive advantage can be reached by localizing your services. Not everything needs to be done alone, and here step in the local service providers:
“Since we, as a provider of ecommerce systems, long ago understood that our success relays on our customers’ success it is obvious that a good cooperation with local service providers such as Maksuturva is beneficial for our customers as well as for ourselves. In order to be successful as web shop in a new market it is essential that you offer the payment methods that the customer trusts and prefer”, states Karlsson.
Also Palmefjord points out that it is always important to understand and act upon each market's specific needs. Important factors to consider are assortment, pricing, payment methods, delivery time expectations and other country specific customer behavior. Finding out the customers’ expectations regarding these factors makes it easier to succeed in the new market area.
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Askås is a supplier of e-commerce solutions. Besides this they offer services in strategy, design and marketing. Askås was founded in 1997 and today it is one of the most successful e-commerce providers, with clients all over Sweden and Scandinavia.
Lekmer is the biggest childrens' online store in the Nordics selling everything that a family needs - all the way from decoration items to clothes and toys. Lekmer is part of CDON Group.