Let’s start with a simple question – should you even enter the Finnish market with your shop online? Absolutely yes! However, it’s crucial to find out more about the characteristics of this market and identify what kind of customers Finns are. With more knowledge, you will be able to start effective activities that will help you with SEO and achieving desired effects.
The Finnish e-commerce market has really matured over the last few years. Finns do not hesitate too long if online shopping is safe, and the ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) effect practically doesn’t exist there. Changes in the Finnish e-commerce sector are not extremely dynamic and potential for growth is smaller, however, the average Finn’s engagement in shopping online even now is much bigger compared to other europeans markets.
What do you need to know before you enter the Finnish market?
Finland is a country where the first ever mobile phone payment was made – and it happened in the year 1997! It was an SMS transaction for a vending machine with Coke products in Helsinki. In the same year, a Finnish bank called Merita Bank introduced mobile banking, and in the same time period the first GSM standardized connection was made. Then, the sales of digital content such as phone ringtones became amazingly popular. Since the Finnish e-commerce market skyrocketed in the Nineties, it should not come as a surprise that Finns are equally engaged nowadays.
Finland is a country whose population is currently a little more than 5.5 million inhabitants. Additionally, it has one of the highest levels of Internet access Worldwide. According to Postnord, 97% of Finns have a direct opportunity to use online services, and almost half – 49% – do regular shopping through the Internet at least once a month.
Isn’t it a bit of a surprise? The majority of those transactions are cross-border ones, which means they are finalized in online shops located out of Finland. This brings nothing but benefits for your business if you are thinking about entering that market. What else makes this country so attractive for e-commerce?
How much money does the average Finn spend online?
Even back in 2012, the difference between Finnish behaviour and that of other nationalities – especially those outside of Scandinavia – was clearly visible.
While the average household within the EU spent €1696 on online shopping in 2012, Finnish households spent €2821! (data: the European B2C E-commerce Report 2013. Ecommerce Europe.) This trend has remained visible.
As I mentioned before, the Finnish market is more mature and static than many other European markets. However, interest in e-commerce has grown by 20% during the last 5 years. What’s more, according to data from Statista.com, it is estimated that in 2022 more than 4.1 million users will shop online.
It is worth mentioning what kind of consumers Finns are. They are very engaged and keen to buy various products on the Internet: even trips from travel agencies, for example. While in many other countries, clients prefer to visit a brick-and-mortar travel agency to buy a holiday despite researching it online on many websites (it causes the ROPO effect).
Ecology – important for your business on the Finnish market
Finns focus a lot of their attention into ecology, so details like the method of packaging matter a lot to them. There is a need to implement pro environmental solutions, such as RePack – reusable containers. How does it work? The courier (or post) delivers a parcel to the customer, and the latter returns it as a proof of delivery. Varusteleka or GlobeHope are such companies who decided on implementing similar solutions. You should definitely follow them to win some loyalty and trust among customers in Finland.
Finlandia – characteristics of the e-commerce market
If you want to create a persona for your Finnish expansion, take a deeper look at statistics telling you how Finns use the Internet – what and how much they purchase and whether they are a good target for your business. We said that they are really engaged customers. Why did we say so, and what do they do on a daily basis? Let’s take a look at one infographic…
How old is the average Internet user? To be fair, almost each age group uses the Internet. 70% of 60+ years old Finns use the Internet on a regular basis. It shows how active Finnish society is. It’s high time to find out how they spend money, what payment methods they use, and to prepare the best SEO strategy accordingly.
What do Finns focus their attention on while shopping on the Internet?
It’s worth knowing what the Finnish society takes into account while shopping and choosing the right store online. The main role is played by the price, obviously, but following that are factors related to UX or UI: transparency of information, easy access to all of a website’s features or an advanced search engine. If you are thinking of entering the Finnish market, you can’t just disobey all of the aforementioned aspects. Even though the market is very open and Finns willingly buy foreign products, you have to suit their needs and requirements: especially to stand out from British and German competition, whose services and products are the most used by Finns.
Payment methods in Finland
To achieve success, you actually need to draw your attention to a fairly simple thing, which is payment methods. How do Finns pay? Which options are worth putting on your website?
The first place is taken by credit or debit cards (38%), second is Postpay (27%), 18% of people use SEPA or direct payments, and 3% are divided into some other payment methods including Paysafecard or eWallet.
Finland vs other Scandinavian countries
E-commerce in Finland works really well relative to some Southern countries in the EU. However, in the North the competition is especially fierce, since Scandinavian countries are really active in the area of e-commerce. Finland doesn’t shine brightest compared to them. In 2017, Sweden spent €11.4b, Denmark €11.3b and Norway €10.9b, while Finland spent “only” €8.5b and so a little less than the others. However, it does not change the fact that it is an interesting market for many foreign online shops.
We would like to remind you that Finns are really willing to buy products from other markets, and a stable, balanced growth in the area of e-commerce is a good signal for those who are thinking about entering the Finnish market. If you want to know a bit more about SEO process in Scandinavian countries, we encourage you to read our articles about SEO in Norway and SEO in Sweden.
What do Finns buy via most of via the Internet?
If you are planning to enter the Finnish market, you should know which industries may be the most rewarding for your online shop, and which still deliver even greater results in brick and mortar shops. According to the Finnish Commerce Federation, the leading industries in terms of proportion of sales made online are technology – 27% – and fashion – 26%. Next, you should look at zoological or hobby shops, then cosmetics and care products. The last three highlighted elements are home accessories, car parts and books. According to another set of data, you can see that a lot of Finns invest their money in travelling.
Finnish language in search engines
The Finnish language is not the easiest nut to crack for Google. The very first problem is Finnish suffixes: one word can represent a whole phrase. For example, “in the car” – three words, translates to Finnish as “autossa”. Even in other languages than English, the phrase “in the car” consists of more words, while in Finnish there is no separate phrase for this.
The suffixes problem
They can cause a problem as follows: if you are trying to write an SEO-optimized article, Google may treat different forms of the word “car” as different keywords. Autossa (in the car) and Autolla (with the car) can be put in different categories. This is why it’s extremely difficult to write a natural Finnish article that, at the same time, will be appropriately optimized. How to solve this problem?
- Check which phrases have the highest volume and choose words with those suffixes that reach the largest audience.
- Remember about being natural and despite the constraints, try to write in an attractive way. Don’t let your reader think that SEO is more important that their reception.
Long, long words…
Perhaps for some people it won’t come as a surprise… You need to remember that some long Finnish words can often make creating mets descriptions or titles harder. The number of characters (or pixels, according to Google) available to be used is not changing, but the grammar itself can turn out to be troublesome. How to sort it out?
- If the words themselves are too long, resign from suffixes. They increase the length..
- There are some words in the Finnish language that can come in handy while creating content for search engines. They are short and concrete (e.g. buy, search or fantastic).
…and low volumes
The problem of low volumes is not surprising after describing how complex the Finnish language can be. Let’s look at an example for car insurance. Car insurance has 550,000 search requests per month in the UK. In Sweden, it is 33,100 search requests. In Finland it is only 5,400 requests, but anyway it is regarded as a relatively large sector. Long tail SEO should solve this problem and grow interest in the direct product.
The Finnish problem with SEO tools
The majority of SEO tools are not created for the Finnish market. Therefore, they do not include Finnish words or even Google.fi in their toolboxes. While tools have a lot of indexed keywords in English, Swedish or even Polish, Finnish is very often missed. How to make it work? Well, the truth is that you should often just add Finnish keywords, find competitors and… wait for the results. Your task is to choose keywords that your biggest rivals use, check if they really do work and evaluate the effects. Genero prepared a great guide if you want to dig into this topic.
What social media platforms should you invest in on the Finnish market?
We know that a significant part of SEP process can be activity on some social media platforms. Of course, it is a part of the marketing strategy and reaching the right audience, not only gaining links or making your domain stronger. That is why it is worth checking which social media platforms are most used by Finns.
As shown on the infographic above, more than 3 million Finns use social media on a daily basis. It is a relatively huge percentage (59%) of all inhabitants. Since we already know that Finns keenly use social media channels, which platforms should you take into consideration?
No surprises here – Facebook is the most popular platform in Finland, gaining 2.9 million users. Instagram has 1.9 million users, and then we can find Twitter or Snapchat. LinkedIn has over 1.2 million registered active users (more than ⅓ of the whole population).
It’s worth mentioning one incredibly important aspect of activities on social media – their potential. Facebook and Instagram have such stable positions that some single growths or falls are not that important – in 2018 they didn’t notice any changes in particular. We can observe slow Twitter growth and a quiet Snapchat exit. It does not really come as a surprise since Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn just took over the most important features, simply offering more. Examples? Stories on IG or numerous filters that are taken directly from Snapchat. LinkedIn is the platform that is worth taking into account while considering SEO activities.
If you want to check out some more data, I do recommend the presentation called Digital 2019 Finland – we took the above infographics from there, and you can find even more meaningful insights for 2018.
SEO in Finland – websites that should draw your attention
Vertaa.fi is equivalent to Idealo or GoCompare, where users can compare products according to price, recommendations or delivery time. The number of visits to Vertaa.fi is as high as even a million users per month. Currently, in the Vertaa database, there are four million products that generate sales within CPC.
Vertaa is an intuitive platform. To list a product, it is enough to fill in fields like category, name, price, brand ID, or the time, method and price of delivery – so everything that any potential client will look for.
Kelkoo is a portal that works similarly to Vertaa. It is a comparison site that helps with increasing the reach of your shop online by promoting products to a narrowly defined target audience. It’s been online since 1999 and is currently in 22 European countries.
The advantage of Kelkoo is that, as the owner of a shop online, you pay not when the ad is displayed but only when a client is redirected to your shop. A unique ID, title, price, URL and availability are enough to make your product go live on the website. Kelkoo’s design is really simple and smart which can be another advantage for many potential clients.
It’s another platform for comparing products, belonging to Prisjakt Sverige AB. This is where clients can compare prices and details of products, and get familiar with other clients’ opinions. Like those services mentioned above, Prisjakt requires a product ID, category, shop URL, brand, price, condition and availability. It is very often used by people in Finland, so you should not neglect it as a way of promotion for your shop.
3 mistakes that you should avoid while running SEO process in Finland
Avoiding mass media
A lot of marketing activities in Finland are still based on mass media. Therefore, if you want to conquer their market and be noticed, sooner or later you will have to make the most of mass media and actively use those channels..
A lack of optimization for the website on mobile devices
83% Finns use smartphones or tablets for shopping. It would be a pity to waste such potential. Google likes responsive web design (RWD), as does your audience. If you enter the Finnish market you should remember about constantly working and optimizing the customer experience on mobile devices.
Neglecting culture differences
Finnish culture regards society as the most important thing. It is a huge difference in comparison to e.g. the Dutch, where the individual plays a major role. Here, everything happens in a society: Finns often listen to others and their opinions, they also often follow the general trends. It all leads to entrepreneurs who are just starting out in Finland but are automatically forced to adjust to the society, not the other way round.
Finns love their post, but not couriers. They care about ecology. They appreciate hassle-free contact and transparent information. They want to have access to products on many platforms (that is why running SEO process through platforms like Vertaa is so important). If you are able to understand this all and deliver your services, the you should not worry about having success on the Finnish market.