Nordics eCommerce Country Guide

A guide that can help you improve your cross-border strategy


supported by Direct Link UK

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Sweden, Denmark, Norway & Finland - the countries that form the Nordic region - have a long history of distance-selling. Its very well developed infrastructure makes the Nordics a booming region for ecommerce activity.

Ecommerce in the region has experienced steady growth for several years now. In fact, 62% of the Nordic population shopped online during an average quarter in 2016. The total value of online purchases made by Nordic residents in 2016 was in excess of €21.9bn.

Significantly, 36% of Nordic consumers will have made purchases from a foreign site in the last quarter. A full 25% (€5.4bn) of total ecommerce trading comes from international sellers.

As you might expect, this is particularly encouraging news for those of us with a special interest in the Nordic markets; Direct Link is 100% owned by PostNord, the merged Swedish and Danish national Post Offices. Through our combined focus and activities - both in international markets and on home soil in the Nordics, we see a vibrant, expanding, yet relatively untapped market with many significant elements that make it an attractive but sound proposition for market entry and sustained growth.

There are many similarities between the Nordics and the top international e-retail markets, especially the UK, which is viewed by many as leader when it comes to ecommerce and omni-channel. Nordic consumers are similarly well equipped with the tools and technology to make buying online a simple, effective and rewarding experience. High levels of internet use – coupled with an increasing preference for ordering via tablets and mobile devices - are two of the main drivers for growth in the region.

The top three product categories from which Nordic residents buy online are clothing & footwear, home electronics and media. Cosmetics, skin & haircare products and sport & leisure are also strong and evolving favourites.

PostNord has, in the course of extensive research over the past nine years, identified that while there are some slight differences in the behavioural and buying patterns of consumers in each respective market, these are governed by choice or availability of products. Nordic consumers are extremely brand-savvy – and will use technology extensively to research their online purchases. The relative maturity of each respective domestic market is another factor driving international ecommerce; whereas the Swedish range has historically been good, the domestic alternatives in Denmark, Norway and Finland have made local consumers eager to buy online from foreign sites.

Significantly, 36% of Nordic consumers will have made purchases from a foreign site in the last quarter. In 2016 a full 25% (€5.4bn) of total ecommerce trading comes from international sellers. This is good news for non-Nordic retailers, especially those in the UK, because many Nordic customers still prefer to make their cross-border purchases from UK sites – particularly the Danes, 34% of whom will order from the UK in a typical quarter.

Finally, from a Direct Link and PostNord perspective, it’s encouraging that a much discussed topic within the ecommerce community today is delivery options and the importance of speed. We are delighted to be supporting this excellent piece of work from eCommerce Worldwide and look forward to discussing your thoughts and delivery requirements for the Nordics at an opportune moment in the near future.

- Karin Falkentoft

Managing Director, Direct Link UK

Executive Summary

This cross-border trading country guide looks at the Nordics, a combined market of 26 million people, with a GDP of $1.4trn which ranks the region as the 12th biggest global economy.

Distance-selling has long been in the blood of the population, if for nothing else due to the sheer size of the territory and low population density. With an average GDP per capita of $49,000, this is a relatively wealthy region with each of the four countries covered here ranking in the top 10 ecommerce enabled territories globally; ahead of both the UK and US.

This report covers the four countries collectively and in specific detail where one performs differently to the others. One exception is a politically created region of Greater Copenhagen. This region is highlighted due to the concentration of population, infrastructure, opportunity and business. Consisting of an area 300 km around Copenhagen, it includes southern Sweden and has a population of over 9 million; one of the most densely populated regions in the Nordics.


For more information, visit the following links:


Political and socioeconomic environment

Online and mobile usage

Online shopping behaviour


Optimising customer experience

Trust and dispute resolution

Legal framework and regulation

Logistics and delivery

Finance and payment

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