18 Apr 2023
The major upheavals of recent years have also made an impact on online commerce. The pandemic years were especially challenging for the central sectors of e-commerce, which created room for new services and trends. The tourism industry, which has acted as the engine of online shopping, saw sales collapse while the online sale of physical products picked up significantly. As a delightful trend from a domestic perspective, the desire of Finns to make purchases in Finnish online stores grew noticeably. Consumers are also interested in ecological and sustainable values.
The events of the past few years have driven more and more Finns to shop online. According to a survey conducted by the Finnish payment forwarding service Paytrail, up to 78 % of Finns made online purchases in 2021. This share was even larger in the under-50 age group where a whopping 89 % reported making online purchases. Buying things online is an everyday activity for more and more people.
Even though the younger generations are the most frequent online shoppers, the most significant growth was seen in the over-65 age group. Their share in e-commerce is growing steadily. Nowadays the older generations are more technologically savvy and more used to online shopping than before.
The pandemic and the restrictions that came with it forced Finns to shop online regardless of age or consumption habits. Even though brick and mortar stores and other service providers reopened their doors after the restrictions were lifted, the new way of shopping had already become rooted in the everyday lives of a growing number of Finns. There are no significant regional differences in the popularity of online shopping in Finland when comparing the capital region to the rest of the country.
The same survey also highlights a trend that is sure to please especially Finnish online retailers. Finnish online stores have reinforced their position in recent years. The exceptional recent circumstances steered Finns to shop online more and more, especially in Finnish online stores. Finns want to favour both domestic and local online stores over stores located abroad.
This can also be seen in how Asia, which had previously dominated the online store market, has clearly lost popularity among Finns. This change could already be seen in 2020 as the share of shoppers buying from online stores abroad dropped to one third. In 2022, 62 % of Finns reported they only made purchases from domestic online stores, while only one third continued to shop abroad. In addition to Finnish stores, other European vendors have also bolstered their position in e-commerce.
The impact of the rise of sustainable values is felt everywhere. There has been a lot of talk concerning Earth’s dwindling carrying capacity for several years now, and the pressure to transition into sustainable consumption has increased. Consumers are now more aware than before and they consider how their consumption habits could affect the issue. How can they continue to consume but more sustainably and with a smaller environmental footprint.
The strengthening of sustainable and environmental values means purchase decisions are now affected by many other factors besides price. For example, longer transportation distances naturally put more strain on the environment than products purchased nearby. Thus, a product shipped from far away is not an especially sustainable choice. Even though the prices of goods sent from Asia might lure consumers, many are well aware of their price tag for the environment. Furthermore, if the product is then returned as unsuitable, the emissions are doubled.
Finnish online stores rarely have the chance to compete with large international operators on price, but on sustainability and quality this is possible. Favouring domestic stores also makes consumption more socially responsible, as the trade sector is Finland's largest employer. Buying from a Finnish company creates employment in Finland. The money spent also remains here and the purchase decision directly supports Finnish society. The paid VAT also benefits the home country.
Many consumers consider Finnish online stores to be the more reliable and, first and foremost, the more sustainable choice. Consumers consider the impact their own consumption has on nature as meaningful. A responsible consumer considers the entire lifespan of the goods they consume from manufacturing onwards when choosing what to purchase. If a product only lasts in use for a couple of months or a couple of washing cycles, it is easy to understand that it is not a sustainable or high-quality product. By choosing a slightly more expensive yet more durable alternative, the consumer gains quality for themselves while taking responsibility for their consumption habits.
Finnish consumers favour localness in online shopping especially to support local Finnish companies. According to Paytrail’s survey, nearly half of the respondents say their purchase decisions are significantly impacted by the desire to support local businesses. Nearly one third directly states that they do not want to support large international operators with their online shopping. They would rather buy locally and less frequently than cheaply from far away.
Consumers also feel buying from local vendors is safer and more personal. Many Finns have doubts concerning communication in problem situations when buying from large operators. Calling or emailing a local entrepreneur is much easier, and it is easier to trust that you will receive service when you need it. Consumers also trust that they will receive better service in domestic and local online stores.
All in all, consumers seem to be more eager to make decisions that support Finnishness, localness, the environment and a functional future also when it comes to online shopping.
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Keski-Uudenmaan Kehittämiskeskus Oy
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