E-commerce of services continued to grow last year. The growth of e-commerce as a whole decreased last year to the level of one per cent, due to significant decreases in certain major e-commerce categories, such as housing and cars. Growth was faster in international e-commerce than Finnish online sales.

The E-Commerce Statistics (Verkkokauppatilasto) recently published by The Finnish Direct Marketing Association (ASML), the Finnish Commerce Federation and TNS Gallup indicate that the e-commerce of services grew by six per cent in 2012 in comparison to the previous year. The biggest increase was seen in the purchases of financial services, including quick loans. Their online purchases grew by more than 45 per cent. Online gambling is another rapidly growing category, with a growth of more than 25 per cent over the previous year.

As a whole, however, e-commerce growth has decelerated, which can be explained by the drop in online sales of housing and associated products and services as well as cars, boats and accessories. Purchases and rentals in the category of housing and holiday homes as well as making energy contracts online decreased by 28 per cent, whereas e-commerce of cars and boats was reduced by about 25 per cent. Online sales of various well-being services also decreased in comparison to 2011.

All in all, Finnish consumers’ online purchases of products and services totalled €9.6 billion* last year. This figure includes taxes, postage and packing expenses. The share of international e-commerce was 15 per cent. The share has grown by 16 per cent in comparison to the previous year, as Finnish e-commerce slightly decreased over 2011.

“It seems that the overall financial situation and cautiousness have an impact on all consumer habits, e-commerce included. This is reflected in the trend that while the number of online shoppers is increasing, the overall purchases made by individual shoppers are not," says Ville Wikström, Director at Digital, TNS Gallup.

E-commerce of retail products, excluding cars and boats, grew by nearly six per cent. The greatest growth numbers were recorded in the online sales of food products, with an increase of 72 per cent from the previous year. In the hardware store category, e-commerce also increased significantly, by 56 per cent. These major growth numbers are created as the result of very small initial sales figures and the increases in online shopping possibilities.

From the perspective of the Finnish national economy, it is alarming that international online shops are the engines of growth for both services and retail products. The amount of international purchases made increased by nine per cent in retail products and by up to 21 per cent in services.

“The rapid growth of international e-commerce that continues year after year also sends a clear message to decision makers: international competition for the Finnish consumer exists, and the competitivity of Finnish services should not be taxed to death,” warns  Juhani Pekkala, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

“One of the most challenging tasks for many online shops is to get customers to come to their site; but the success of an online shop is ultimately determined by how successful the business is in building customer commitment and creating outstanding customer experiences, targeting important contents and offering mobile services", states Jari Perko, Director of The Finnish Direct Marketing Association.

*NB! The e-commerce statistics have been adjusted. E-commerce statistics have been prepared since 2010, now totalling 12 quarters.  As the period is now extensive enough, there was justification to reassess the first years’ levels. It has been possible to pick out errors in responses retrospectively and it has also been possible to remove some impacts that errors have had on average purchases and the product categories in euros.  Furthermore, it was possible to assess and remove the impact of consumer-to-consumer commerce in certain product groups. The size of the sample was also increased, from the initial 9,000 to some 11,500.

Background information

The E-Commerce Statistics by TNS Gallup covers the sales of both products and services as well as services bookings. A total of 30 product categories and 70 sub-categories are included in the survey. The statistics are based on consumer interviews, a total of 11,580 of which were carried out in 2012.

More information:

Ville Wikström, Director at Digital, TNS Gallup, tel. +358 9 6135 0674, ville.wikstrom(at)tnsglobal.com