The ECommerce turnover for 2021 was $15.8 billion, which is the same level as in 2019, before COVID-19 hit and had a huge effect on ecommerce. 57 percent of the turnover was spent on goods, 25 percent on services and 18 percent on traveling. Each segment increased turnover, goods by 12 percent, services by 9 percent and travel by 25 percent. The fading of the impact of COVID-19 did not decrease online shopping. On the contrary, 37 percent have increased their online shopping. Finnish sites have gained more foothold among buyers due to increased willingness among Finns to support domestic sites during and after COVID-19 and rising ecological awareness with customers taking into consideration the ecological impact of transporting whatever they are purchasing.
According to the Finnish Postal Services’ 2022 Grand eCom Survey, the number one online repeat purchase by Finnish consumers was clothing (68 percent), followed by home electronics (44 percent), groceries and takeout food (40 percent), and cosmetics (37 percent). Travel and services, such as train, and plane tickets, hotels, games, and digital media, are also selling well online, except in 2020. Buying groceries online has taken big steps forward and consumers have continued buying groceries and takeout online after COVID-19. In 2021 B2B used ecommerce as a purchasing tool in 47 percent of all purchases compared to the previous year’s 36 percent. Five-year projections raise it up to 62 percent. Buyers and sellers value slightly different features. Order tracking and real-time availability are equally important to both as well as renewal of an old order. Sellers value features in integration, customer specific price list, discounts, and selection much higher than buyers. Overall ecommerce has taken giant steps in the past year and there is no turning back when both consumers and business increase their demands for ecommerce providers.
The total value of eCommerce spending in 2020 was $24 billion, of which 63 percent came from B2B and 37 percent from B2C. On the consumer side, 49 percent spent more than $100 and 21 percent over $500 in a three-month period. For single purchases, 64 percent were worth less than $50, though the amounts have risen since 2019, mainly due to higher customs duties. Over the course of three months, each Finn on average makes more than five purchases online. Average spending per year in 2020 was $900 per person. The share of ecommerce in B2B turnover was 22 percent, slightly more than the EU average of 20 percent. Most commonly it was used in hotel and restaurant businesses (55%), retail (53%) and wholesale (41%). Other sectors utilizing eCommerce included construction (4%), scientific/technical (8%) and logistics (9%). Currently 40 percent of sellers do not offer any form of ecommerce as a way to do business but 20 percent consider establishing an online store.
Covid-19 increased the number of active online buyers, especially in older age groups. The difference among active age groups is still large. 89 percent of people under 50 years of age bought online in 2021 compared to those over 65, where the percentage was 56 percent.
According to Finnish Post Survey 2022 there are some gender-based behavioral differences when it comes to buying online. Price comparison shopping is relatively more attractive to males, ease of access and avoiding crowds in stores appeal to women. Women (44%) are more willing to pay extra for eco-friendly delivery than men and those under 35 years of age are more willing than the older age groups.
In 2021 Germany (42%) passed China (40%) for the first time as the most popular country from which Finns buy online. Other popular countries were Sweden (24%), UK (19%), and the USA (18%).
Legal and Regulatory
Finland applies EU’s Ecommerce Directive
The European Union has introduced a new VAT eCommerce package, which will facilitate cross-border trade, combat VAT fraud, and ensure fair competition for EU businesses. These new rules have been in force as of July 1, 2021. There are no local incentives or initiatives for ecommerce.
The most important rule for a foreign company building ecommerce in Finland is to make sure that their platform will support local enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), local payment methods, and Finnish Post. If they don’t, it will be impossible to do business here.
Most Finnish laws relevant to online business activities apply to all business activities, not just online business. The most relevant regulations to online business are: the Consumer Protection Act, where distance selling regulations are applied to ecommerce, the Information Society Code (917/2014), which sets regulations on e-privacy, consumer protection, communications networks, and data security with the aim of promoting simplified procedures and equal opportunities for service providers in the market; and the Personal Data Act (1523/1999) and GDPR, which cover the processing of personal data of EU subjects in connection to the offering of goods and services.
There are no business/legal obstacles to prevent online/eCommerce financial transactions in Finland. The key is to offer suitable payment methods.
Increase in buying online from domestic sites has kept growing after Covid-19. In 2021 only 33 percent of consumers were buying from foreign online sites compared to 62 percent buying only from domestic sites. Difficulties in returning purchases was the most common reason for not buying from foreign online stores. Many Finns believe that there are advantages to shopping online, finding it cheaper, more convenient, offering a larger and better range of goods and services, and saving time when compared with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. These are also the drivers for online purchases in addition to around-the-clock availability. Both sexes in all age groups are less likely to make a purchase when the delivery costs are too high. In fact, 61 percent would shop more online, if offered free delivery. 90 percent have even added more items to the shopping cart to qualify for free delivery. Finns are conscientious buyers and made somewhat fewer customer returns compared to many other European customers. In 2021, 42 percent of Finnish online shoppers had returned some of their digital purchases, compared to half of Swedish digital shoppers and 53 percent of British shoppers.
In 2021, the most frequently used online shops, according to Finnish Post Survey 2021, were Verkkokauppa.com, Zalando, Gigantti, and Kärkkäinen, (Amazon occupied ninth place). Finns are not particularly interested in making purchases from large international marketplaces. Finns buy directly from local online stores, primarily preferring domestic, local companies. Quality raises the most doubts in big marketplaces. Also, ethics and the difficulty of contact in problem situations are perceived as a challenge to use these channels. Among international online marketplaces, Zalando, eBay and Amazon were the most popular. The four most popular eCommerce payment methods in 2021 in Finland were online banking (60 percent) and debit/credit cards (48 percent), invoice (24 percent), and PayPal (21 percent) or similar online payment options. Mobile pay has taken big steps in popularity during the past year. While in 2019 eight percent were using it as a payment method, in 2021 the percentage had gone up to 18. Finns are still careful when saving their card information into different online sites and this is why online banking as a payment method still has a strong foothold. The popularity of invoices or partial payment is increasing for larger purchases, and the average purchase of mobile payments is growing. Legislation also strongly guides the direction payments will develop in the future.
Major payment gateways supported in Finland are Trustly, SOFORT, PayTrail, PayPal, Klarna, Apple, and Google Pay.
According to the Finnish Postal Service’s Grand eCom Survey 2022 Finns differ from their European colleagues when it comes to package delivery options and speed. Finns prefer to collect from a parcel machine or from a distribution point at a time convenient to their own schedule, whereas other Europeans prefer home delivery. Furthermore, Finns do not consider fast deliveries to be that important. They are more interested in being able to choose the place for the delivery.
Digital marketing and social media
Digital marketing in Finland has grown rapidly in the past few years, and more Finnish service providers, including traditional marketing companies (Digital Marketing Finland Oy, Avidly), have arisen to help companies to provide their services. Facebook and Google have established strong positions in Finland, accounting for approximately half of all digital marketing nationwide.
Nearly all consumers use social media and instant messengers. Search engines, online stores, and video websites are the most used types of websites. Google, with 91.9 percent, is the most used search engine, and others like Bing (2.88 percent), and Yahoo (1.51 percent) trail far behind. Search engines are the most important source of information when searching for product information. Finns also check manufacturer and brand websites more than other Europeans. The most popular social media channels of total population in 2022 were Facebook (43.3 percent), YouTube (83.3 percent) and Instagram (41.5 percent)
There are several smaller seminars on ecommerce around Finland, but the biggest one is the yearly expo Smart Commerce. The next iteration will be held on February 7, 2024, in Helsinki.
Finnish Post Survey 2021 & 2022
PostNord 2022 and 2020 Survey
PayTrail 2022 and 2021
Ecommerce in Europe 2021
Finnish Commerce Federation
Interested parties may contact Commercial Specialist Tiina Ketelä-Juvonen, email@example.com