For most of the world, the Nordics are often viewed as a sort of mythical land of beautiful people, great quality of life, sky-high taxes, and freezing winters.
But why do people not focus on selling their products there?
Even with the high income and purchasing power, young, tech-forward customers, selling to Nordic countries can be a challenge.
And for small businesses outside of Europe, selling to the Nordics very rarely even makes it on the radar due to the geographic location and general lack of information about exactly how to selling to Nordic people differs from other e-commerce hubs.
What’s the reality?
While the Nordics are their own economic region and there are some similarities in consumer preferences and behaviour, each Nordic country has a different consumer profile, and prefer to be treated as individuals — and so they should be!
For those who don’t know, the Nordic countries are made up of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland (as well as the Faroe Islands, Åland and Greenland, but we’ll focus on the first 4 today).
Below, we’ll get into 5 super important things you should consider before expanding your business into the Nordic region.
Delivery convenience is #1
Delivery convenience isn’t just about how fast your product can get from A to B. In a study of almost 90,000 Nordic consumers, the freedom to have a parcel delivered where and when it’s convenient ranked as #1 in importance, even when compared to other factors like free shipping and fast delivery.
In Finland, that means a self-service postal locker that’s opened with a code sent by SMS or email. In Sweden, it’s more likely that shoppers will pick up their packages from a collection centre.
However, regardless of which Nordic country your customers are in, it’s important you ship or partner with a 3PL-service that connects to convenient pickup locations for customers.
Major postal companies in the Nordics include:
- Posti (Finland)
- PostNord (Finland, Sweden, Denmark)
- Matkahuolto in Finland
- Posten (Norway)
- DHL, UPS, FedEx (Across the Nordics)
The simplest way to ship with a local Nordic postal company (and in turn provide a more comfortable and seamless experience for your customers) is by using a partner with logistics connections across the whole of Europe — you can check out who we partner with across Europe and the world here.
E-commerce is a part of the everyday, and it’s mobile-first
Customers across the globe see e-commerce as an easier, more convenient, and more cost efficient alternative to brick and mortar retail. E-commerce in the Nordics is no different — with a whopping 61% of Nordic customers shopping online at least once per month, with an average monthly spend of between €158 and €221.
For overseas businesses, a huge opportunity presents itself with 15.9% of purchases coming from outside of the Nordics.
An e-commerce store’s mobile functionality and user experience is incredibly important, with over 50% of consumers aged 18-50 using their phone for online shopping in a single month. Poor UX design, slow site speed and complicated checkout processes can impact abandoned cart rates immensely, particularly for Nordic customers that expect their experience to be as seamless as their day-to-day social media apps.
Taxes and customs matter to Nordic countries
The one thing that may make a difference when a Nordic consumer hits your e-commerce site is tax.
Trade within the EU is usually pretty standard, with no extra VAT added for any of the Nordic countries — except of course, Norway.
While Norway is part of the Nordic region, they aren’t part of the EU, and as such, customers are used to forking out the extra taxes for orders coming from inside the EU. This means, of course, that buying from the US, UK or even Australia doesn’t phase the Norwegians.
On the other hand, Finnish, Swedish and Danish customers pay close attention to potential added VAT. With up to 25% added VAT, it can easily blow the price of a simple product high enough to not follow through with the purchase.
Speed is important, but so is the planet
If you asked most global consumers about the most important factors that make up an e-commerce purchase, most would cite fast shipping and free returns.
But in the Nordic countries, one more factor competes fiercely: the planet.
It’s no secret that the Nordic region is world-renowned for their leading-edge recycling technology, pledge for sustainable development and deep love for the natural world. So it makes sense that Nordic consumers value the environment higher than their materialistic needs.
As an e-commerce business entering the Nordics, it’s important to highlight:
- Whether a parcel’s delivery is carbon neutral
- If biodegradable or sustainable packaging is an option
- Your company’s values on sustainability
By doing so, you’ll speak a language that’s an intrinsic part of purchasing decisions in the Nordic region.
English is widely spoken — but localization will give you an edge
Speaking of languages, let’s talk briefly about languages in the Nordics, and whether localization is right for your e-commerce business.
While the English literacy rate is high across the Nordics, and few consumers have a problem with buying from an overseas website, localizing your content and providing a local support number will have a great impact on whether consumers trust your company, your product, and your service.
OGOship: your new Nordic best friend
Selling to the Nordics doesn’t have to be a challenge. As a Nordic-born company, we’re excited to help as many overseas e-commerce businesses bring their products to the region.
From local warehousing and partnerships with the region’s biggest postal services, to green packaging for the most planet-conscious of customers, we’ve got you covered.
Get in touch with our local team of specialists today to start what could be the most rewarding expansion for your business.