Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.
eCommerce has been a fast-growing segment over the past several years in Slovakia, with 51 percent of the population in shopping online. The largest category in Slovak ecommerce is Toys/Hobby & DIY with about USD 412 million based on net sales. The second is the Electronics and Media (USD 358.3 million) followed by Fashion (USD 227.3 million), Furniture & Appliances (USD 213 million) and Food & Personal Care (USD 200 million). The situation during several pandemic lockdowns was very favorable for buying groceries online. U.S. providers of online services, such as video on demand, software, games, and music, should make an effort to penetrate the Slovak market for those products and offer fee-based services to consumers who already have fiber optic and broadband Internet connections at home. Many younger Slovaks speak English, and the general population is interested in American entertainment products. Many consumers have already purchased fiber optic connections and are receptive to cutting-edge technology.
Online shopping is an increasingly common way of purchasing goods in Slovakia. At the end of 2020 there were about 14,300 e-shops that generated sales of EUR 2 billion (USD 2.39 billion). The strongest season is traditionally Christmas. The majority of Slovaks use their mobile devices when purchasing online, so mobile versions of shopping sites are important. Current eCommerce user penetration is about 80 percent. In 2021 the number of eCommerce users in Slovakia was 2.8 million (over 50 percent of the population) and is expected to grow by 12 percent to 3.1 million users by 2025. Younger users comprise the largest share of online shoppers. Almost half of online buyers (42 percent) are people aged 25 to 34, following generation between 35 to 44 (22 percent) and 18 to 24 (13 percent). The remaining 23 percent are customers over 45 years old. B2B is the second fastest growing segment of eCommerce. Local companies offer products and services to business clients. Companies exploring eCommerce for their own purchases usually start with the purchase of office supplies and then look for other products and services to increase their efficiency and lower operational, transportation, and storage costs.
Legal & Regulatory
Slovakia is a part of the European Union. The European Commission removed online barriers so the people may enjoy full access to all goods and services offered online by businesses in the EU. If a U.S. company located in any EU country and offers online products in another country within the EU, the following should apply:
- the revised Payment Services Directive and new rules on cross-border parcel delivery services that are already in force
- rules to stop unjustified geo-blocking
- revised consumer protection rules entered into force in 2020
- new VAT rules for online sales of goods and services entered into force in July 2021.
For background information, please visit New EU Rules on eCommerce.
The Slovak Ministry of Investments, Regional Development and Informatization is the main ministry responsible for smooth digital transformation in Slovakia. More information can be found at the ministry’s website.
External customer surveys show that Slovak women shop more than men (68 percent vs. 32 percent). The most popular product categories for online shopping in Slovakia are clothing, footwear, electronics, cosmetics and drugstores and sporting goods. Slovaks prefer to choose from several delivery options. Brick and mortar collect stores that have an ecommerce arm and allow free shipping to the store are becoming more popular as the physical collection of goods is offered for free. The major buying holidays are Christmas, Black Friday (despite Thanksgiving not being a national holiday), Valentine’s Day, and Easter. The average user spends USD 360 online per year, which is expected to grow to USD 400 by 2022. Ninety-eight percent of 16-24-year-olds access the internet daily. Cross-border eCommerce is common. The most popular eshops for Slovaks are eBay, Amazon DE, Alibaba and AliExpress. Among the top 100 Slovak stores, eBay is used more than Amazon for online marketplace activities. The most popular local eshops including alza.sk and mall.sk are also popular in neighboring countries. Alza.sk heads the list of top ten Slovak ecommerce stores, followed by mall.sk, itesco.sk, lidl-shop.sk, notino.sk, nay.sk, ikea.com, drmax.sk, hm.com and sportisimo.sk. On average, Slovak top stores achieved a year-over-year growth of 13 percent in 2021. Fifty-four percent of online stores in Slovakia among the top 100 are active in the toys, hobby & DIY segment.
The most common forms of payments are electronic debit and credit cards. They are considered safe and there their use carries minor additional surcharges. Ninety-six percent of the top Slovak stores offer payment by Visa and Mastercard. Another popular payment method is ‘pay on delivery,’ which usually includes a USD 1-2 surcharge for purchases under USD 100 - 200. Mobile eCommerce grew in popularity thanks to an increased numbers of local eCommerce applications. The majority of local websites have implemented Accelerated Mobile Pages to facilitate the reading of their content on mobile devices.
Local Service Providers Overview
To learn more about promoting digital services to U.S. businesses, see the eCommerce BSP directory, which is currently aggregating the U.S. based ecosystem of service providers.
Digital Marketing & Social Media
Many local companies that are using digital marketing have implemented machine learning to better target potential customers. YouTube and TikTok have overtaken television in Slovakia as the most watched video content providers among younger audiences. Younger and middle-aged populations often get their news from social media channels. Instagram is popular among the younger generation of Slovaks. Facebook is more popular with Slovaks in their forties and up. However, Slovak online stores mainly use Facebook as its primary social media network interface with customers. Hoaxes are a growing problem, which can impact public opinion, and spread quickly via multiple social media channels. Products most likely to be sold on social media include real estate, insurance, and consumer goods. Regional events focusing on eCommerce are limited to Upterdam and Reshoper organized in Prague, Czech Republic.