What to do to successfully expand an eCommerce business to Finland?
Have you thought of taking your eCommerce to Finland? Most Finns speak English, so is it good enough to just market the English site, or should it be translated to Finnish?
Short answer; yes, it should. You can sell to Finland with your English site, but marketing it using adwords, Facebook or affiliate sites is not going to be wise. Finnish people only buy from English sites, if they are already googling in English, or if a friend has directed them to your English site.
Average Finnish web shopper want’s to buy from a site that is in Finnish. Many Finns are skeptical to buying from foreign websites. Having your site in Finnish lowers the threshold to make a purchase.
To be successful with your eCommerce in Finland, you need to be able to build trust with the people browsing through your website. Have your website translated in Finnish with native Finnish speaker. Using Google Translate equals shooting yourself in the leg, so don’t do it. Also hire or outsource Finnish customer service to native or fluent Finnish speaker. Be open about being a foreign business. Put your office/warehouse and team’s pictures on the website, even if that means only you (and your Finnish speaking colleague).
According to a recent study by Fonecta, 65% of Finnish eCommerce shoppers don’t need customer service chat while shopping online. So running a a chat service might not be on the top of your priority list. The study can be found here (in Finnish): http://hyotytieto.fonecta.fi/liiketoiminnan-tehostaminen/vain-reilu-kolmasosa-kaipaa-asiakaspalvelua-verkkokaupassa
Finland’s population is pretty small, only 5 500 000 people live here. Because of the small population and high tax rates, many products are cheaper for example in Germany than they are in Finland. This is also true to shipping costs. It can actually be cheaper to send a 2kg parcel from Germany to Finland than it is to send the same parcel inside Finland.
These things open a huge possibility to foreign eCommerce companies. With small investment you can expand you eCommerce to Finland and increase sales.
According to a study made by MakesYouLocal Finnish people want to pay their online shoppings either via online banking or invoice. Third most used option is credit/debit card.
If you are selling to Finland from another EU country, you can sell to Finland with up to 35 000€ per year using your country’s VAT percentage and pay your VAT there. If your early sales are more than 35 000€ you need to register at least a branch office to Finland, pay to and use the Finnish VAT in your sales to Finland.
The general Finnish VAT is 24%
More information can be found at the Finnish Taxation office’s website: https://www.vero.fi/en-US/Precise_information/Value_added_tax/Rules_and_procedures_regarding_distance_(30849)
Until the end of 2014 the Finnish legislation made it cost free for Finns to return products bought from the Internet within 14 days of purchase. The legislation has now changed, but many still offer free returns. Offering free returns can also build the trust needed for Finns to make a purchase.
To be successful in Finland, you need to be local and fluent in Finnish in your customer service. At the same time be openly foreign to build trust and don’t forget those pictures on your web site.
Finland has a small population, but because of it, you might be able to sell product cheaper than your Finnish competitors. A good place to start your market research on prices would be going through www.verkkokauppa.com web site. verkkokauppa.com is the biggest Finnish eCommerce.
Make sure you offer Finnish banks and invoice as payment method.
Make a customer promise that you can over achieve. For example respond quicker to emails or ship orders faster than promised.