The Oban Blog

Sweden: 1 in 3 online shoppers buy from UK, US and Germany. An opportunity in waiting?

With a population of just 9.6 million, Sweden may not be in the crosshairs of many international businesses, but the small Scandinavian country still managed to spend £11.1 billion online in 2016.  In 2017, that figure is expected to rise by 9%  to £12.1 billion indicating steady growth in online spending.

This is reinforced further by Sweden’s internet penetration. Currently, Sweden has the 4th highest internet usage rate in the world with 94% of the population online. Only Norway, Iceland and the Falkland Islands have more users per head of population. Connection speeds in Sweden also rank as the second fastest in the world with speeds from 128 kbit/s to 10 Gbit/s.

We know that Swedes are world leaders when it comes to online infrastructure, but how do they like to access the web?

Just over 42% of under 26-year-olds will do their purchasing on a smartphone, while 52% prefer to use a computer. Only 8% of over 55’s prefer to use a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.  Therefore, any UK business looking to penetrate the Swedish market online will have to take responsive web design very seriously – or at the very least advertise their products on third-party retail sites that are easily accessible.

Credit cards preferred method of payment, but e-wallets on the rise

According to Mastercard, over half of Swedish consumers prefer to use a credit card when shopping online. However, a study from Insight Intelligence in 2016 asked 1,000 people over the age of 16 what they knew about digital wallets. 60% of people said they used Swish (akin to PayPal) regularly, with Klarna and PayPal close behind.

“Online shopping is increasingly popular in Sweden, but the cost of shipping, and possible return charges, plus the sometimes hidden cost of VAT, makes online shopping abroad a little intimidating. However, while everyone certainly would like to receive their items as soon as possible, people are prepared to wait an extra day or two if the shipping is free and there are no surprise charges on delivery.” Susanna, Oban Local In-Market Expert (LIME), Sweden

For UK brands looking to move into the market, addressing these concerns and offering a transparent (or free) delivery service would offer a huge advantage.

British brands making it work in Sweden

One-in-three online shoppers in Sweden shop on UK, Germany, and US sites, according to a six-month study by CupoNation. Just under a third of Swedes order something online at least once a month and the most active e-commerce customers can be found in larger cities in the northern part of the country. Blocket and Tradera are popular third-party marketplace sites which outrank Amazon in terms of their popularity.

Over 1,000 British businesses currently operate in Sweden or regularly ship to Swedish customers. Fashion brands like Next and Burberry have seen a great deal of success by positioning themselves as authentic, British brands. Edinburgh-based craft-brewers, Innis & Gunn, took a similar approach and started exporting to Sweden in 2004. Their current Swedish turnover stands at more than £1.6m.

Key takeaways before going to market:

  • 60 % of Swedes said they used Swish for payment – understand local payment preferences and offer the right options
  • Delivery is a pain point – The market is wary about hidden costs. Consider free delivery.
  • 52% of under 26-year-olds make purchases on a desktop: Don’t ignore optimising for desktop as well as mobile devices


Contact us today to see how we can help your business explore new markets like Sweden.