Expanding your business into the Nordics - What you need to know

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Author: Steffen Pasgaard, Vice President, Consignor

Is it fair to view all four Nordics countries as one strategic region? Yes and no, as there are both differences and similarities between the countries that you need to be aware of when expanding your eCommerce business into the Nordics.

People from the Nordics are eager online shoppers, and more than 40% made a purchase in a foreign online shop last year. Traditionally the Nordics and especially Norway and Sweden has a long solid history with distance trading, where people living in outlying areas shopped via mail order firms as geography made getting into the cities to shop too difficult and time-consuming. This is why Norwegians and Swedes have adopted eCommerce shopping rather quickly.

 

"We speak from experience when talking about similarities and differences between the four Nordic countries, as we ourselves has expanded our company within that region in the years from 1997 to 2011. We have a profound interest in the delivery trends and tendencies and we base our knowledge on shipment data generated by our more than 10,000 customers. Some patterns look the same in all countries, but geography and trust have historically affected choice of carrier service and freight rate level" says Steffen Pasgaard, Vice President at Consignor.

 

For simplicity, we have gathered some important similarities and differences in the table below (based on data from PostNord’s report 'Ecommerce in the Nordics')

 

Similarities between Nordic Countries

 

Roughly speaking, the culture and language in the four Nordic countries - Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark – is alike, exept for Finnish, which is very much unlike the three other countries’ languages. In general people from the Nordics understand English very well, which is why retailers do not necessarily need to worry about translating their website into local languages at first. A poorly-translated website will evoke even more distrust among people in the Nordics than an English site.

 

Expanding into the Nordic Region

What the similarities and differences mean to retailers?

In the Nordics, as well as most other eCommerce markets, consumers mostly buy clothes and footwear online and Nordic consumers prefer to collect their delivery at some kind of drop-point. However, despite these similarities, there are still differences between the four countries that you need to be aware of when expanding your eCommerce business into the Nordics.

 

Due to big differences in geography and demography, people from the Nordics look differently on the speed of the delivery. In Denmark people are used to next day service in all corners of the country and there is a huge competition around freight rates. In Norway people accept an extended delivery period and it is common that freight costs are high.

 

Also the personality of the population in the different Nordic countries varies a lot. People in the different countries do not share the same sense of humour and may not have the same political considerations, meaning that marketing campaigns may be perceived differently by the four nationalities. This is probably one of the the most important differences to be aware of when considering expanding into the Nordics. Besides this, research shows that Swedish and Finnish online shoppers tend to return their purchases more often, why retailers have to consider efficient return options towards these two markets especially. Danes and Norwegians return their purchases less commonly, but this does not necessarily mean that they do not expect return options to be available up front.

 

So to sum up, it is only fair to view the Nordic region as one strategic region in some ways. If retailers really want to succeed in expanding their business to the Nordic region they have to take all the differences into account as well.

 

For more information, please consult our The Nordics ‘passport’ trading guide.

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