The invaluable gains offered by the Nordics – Part 1: Language and Shipping

Thursday February 22, 2018 - Posted by:

Although the population in the Nordics is very low, with only 25 people per square km, the total online shopping market reached a whopping 21.9 billion Euros in 2016. Looking at data from PostNord’s annual ecommerce report, E-commerce in the Nordic region, one can safely say it is worth investing time and effort in understanding this region. This 2-part blog series will have a look at the different aspects you should bear in mind when expanding to the “Great North”.

Spend your localisation budget where it matters

The level of English in these markets is second to none. Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are all represented in the top 6 world ranking of countries by English skills in EF’s English Proficiency Index. As a matter of fact, since the rankings were established in 2011, these four Nordic countries have topped the list every year consecutively.

Does this mean that you don’t need to translate your website when targeting this region with ecommerce activity? This is a very frequent question and it is impossible to answer in short, but most retailers will not initially have to fully localise their customer journey to take advantage of the potential that lies in these markets.

In fact, getting your website translated on the cheap and quickly may just as well damage your brand’s reputation more than it does your brand good. Nordic people are very wary of less trustworthy ecommerce sites, and consumers in the region find English sites more trustworthy than a poorly-translated website, claims Vice President of Consignor, Steffen Pasgaard

A more cost-efficient way to gauge and take advantage of the local interest for your brand and products is to launch core, small scale paid search (PPC) campaigns using keywords you know are popular and profitable for your brand. This, though, is the channel where efforts and resources should be put towards localisation as you will need that local language paid search content to compete with local and international competitors. Even with localised paid search activity it’s completely fine to maintain an English language website, especially if the goal is to gauge the opportunity in the market for your brand. You can do this with a Global Market Scoping Test.

We are not in a rush

Nordic consumers generally have low expectations when it comes to delivery times. In Norway, most consumers will be surprised if they have placed an order on an international site and it arrives within the average 4.2 working days. The same goes for Finland with the average expected delivery time being 4.1 working days. For Sweden and Denmark, the expectations are slightly higher. The expected delivery time in Sweden is 3.3 working days while for Denmark it’s 3.1 working days. This comes as no surprise if you compare the actual geographical area Denmark compared to the rest of the Nordic countries, which is 1/10 of the geographical size compared to the average size of the other three countries.

When it comes to receiving their orders, consumers in the Nordics are used to either receiving their delivery to their door, or they pick the parcel up at the local post office or pick up point. In the bigger cities it’s more common for deliveries to be made directly to the delivery address. In areas where population is not as dense on the other hand, people are used to their delivery being made to the local post office for them to pick up at a time that is convenient for them.

PostNord’s study claims that as many as 4 of 5 consumers expect free returns by default. Hence, since consumers in the Nordics are used to not receiving the exclusive offers of next day delivery and free deliveries, offering free returns is a highly important USP to highlight in your ads.

In the next post of this series we will look at how clients in the Nordics prefers doing their product- and brand-research before buying, preferably in an omnichannel setting. We will also discuss something that is not common knowledge to most; customs and VAT charges in the Nordic region.

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