Ecommerce in the Nordics: identifying new growth markets

In 2016, ecommerce in the Nordics totalled 21.9 billion euros, with Sweden leading the way with the highest percentage of online revenue (8.5 billion euros) and Norwegians scoring the highest monthly amount spent per person.

Significantly, 62% of the Nordic population shopped online during an average quarter in 2016, and 25% of total ecommerce trading came from cross-border sellers. This is particularly true of Denmark, with 34% of the cross-border sales coming from the UK.


With mature ecommerce market having the potential to boost your bottom line, other characteristics that make the Nordics a great place to develop your ecommerce reach include:

  • access to good telecommunications
  • an effective postal infrastructure
  • extensive internet access
  • diversified digital payment mechanisms
  • an affluent GDP ($1.4trn in 2016)

Understanding the difference Nordic ecommerce markets

While the Nordics, which includes Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is often viewed as one strategic region, it is also important to explore and tailor an ecommerce strategy to the differences in each country. Below we have provided a snapshot of the different markets*:





Population, 18-79 years (as of Jan 2016)


4,296,033 3,866,558


% of population with internet access (2015)


97% 97%


% of population that shops online every month


63% 65%


% of population that shops online from abroad every month


32% 42%


Estimated amount each internet consumers spends online per month

EUR 151

EUR 162 EUR 173

EUR 135

% of population who shop via mobile each month


23% 27%


% population who did research online before buying in-store


35% 52%


% of population who did in-store research before buying online


16% 10%


Top five most popular countries to buy from

China (31%), UK (28%), Germany (22%), USA (17%), Demark (7%)

UK (34%), Germany (26%), China (21%), USA (14%), Sweden (11%) China (31%), UK (27%), USA (26%), Sweden (13%), Germany (10%)

Germany (25%), China (23%), UK (21%), Sweden (20%), USA (14%)

Top three most popular goods purchased online

Clothing/footwear (34%), Media (30%), Health/beauty (25%)

Clothing/footwear (28%), Home electronics (23%), Media (22%) Clothing/footwear (28%), Media (27%), Home electronics (21%)

Clothing/footwear (34%), Media (28%), Home electronics (24%)

Nordic Cross-Border ecommece habits

Nordic consumers shop from all over the world: Germany, USA, China and the UK are some of the most favoured online destinations. In particular, the UK offers a broad spectrum of experienced retailers and strong brands favouring people who are not extremely price sensitive.

Traditionally, the Norwegians and the Finns are the most likely to shop abroad, since there is a great demand for high-end and luxury products in the fashion and consumer electronics categories. Since, consumers in these markets are more likely to make a cross-border purchase, in comparison to their Swedish and Danish neighbours, delivery expectations in both Norway and Finland are a day longer.

Overall, the top categories among the Nordics are:

  • clothing and footwear
  • media
  • home electronics
  • beauty
  • sport
  • children items and toys
  • groceries
  • car and accessories

Webrooming in the Nordics

Webrooming refers to a shopping process that starts with online browsing and then leads to buying in-store. This type of shopping behaviour allows customers to touch, feel and test products in store before they purchase.

Webrooming is common practice amongst Nordic consumers who like to spend time researching a product before they commit to buy. Research tends to focus around price checking, alongside product reviews or opinions from family and friends. This type of research is particularly relevant for consumer electronics, clothing, footwear and sport or leisure items.




Home electronic


25% 35%


Clothing and footwear


25% 33%



Sport/leisure articles


15% 29%


Deliveries tailored to Nordic consumers

Online shoppers are particularly price sensitive, and ecommerce store or online marketplaces are often the smart alternative to expensive shops. For this reason it is becoming increasingly important for online retailers to offer both convenient and quick deliveries, whether this means home delivery or the option to choose a time slot for an office delivery.

When it comes to deliveries, the Nordics countries start to show their differences:

  • In Finland and Norway, online shoppers prefer to have their goods delivered to their home mailboxes, whereas in Denmark and Sweden, customers prefer to have their purchases delivered to a distribution point;
  • In Finland, logistics systems that use 24/7 parcel machines for distribution have become increasingly common;
  • 95% of Danes expect information on how a delivery will occur and 90% expect a choice of how and where the delivery is made;
  • 74% of Sweden and 76% of Finns expect free shipping;
  • Free returns is the expectation from 81% of Nordic consumers;

Nordic consumers are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to how long they are willing to wait to receive an item purchased online. However, it is evident that online stores’ and logistics operators’ ability to meet consumers’ expectations is high. Swedes and Danes expect—and receive—the fastest deliveries.


*Data gathered from ‘Ecommerce in Nordics 2017’ by PostNord


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