– what you should know?
Estonia is one of the least populous countries in Europe. It is inhabited by app. 1.3 million people, 1/4 of which live in the capital city of Tallinn. Even though it is statistically unimpressive in terms of its population, the internet penetration level is respectable, as it is as high as 92%. It is hardly surprising that Estonia has retained this level for years. The inhabitants of Skype’s homeland are very computer-literate. This is proven by the fact that Estonia offered Internet voting nationally in local elections as early as in 2005!
Estonians use a variety of devices to surf the web. However, desktops and laptops are the most common devices. Almost 69% of the local users use them to access the web. Mobile devices come next (at 29.8%), followed by tablets (1.3%).
Social media play a major role in Estonia. It is said the country is one of the most interconnected on Earth. Approximately 79% of the populace uses social media (if we assume, of course, that each social media account corresponds to a real, unique user). Estonians are most eager to use Facebook (64%), though other platforms have found dedicated supporters, too. The most frequently used social media outlets in Estonia are:
Twitter’s high status may be surprising at first, but is important from a sociological point of view. As mentioned before, social life in Estonia is highly connected, and much of the local political activity occurs online. Twitter seems to be an ideal tool to preserve this state of affairs, as it is a strong source of information for a variety of journalistic outlets. This is particularly important for a free civic society.
According to research, in the period of 2021–2022 the number of social media users in Estonia increased by 6.5%. As a consequence, over a million people in the country are social media users now.
From a marketing and SEO perspective, it is important to note that Estonia has the greatest number of start-ups per capita in the world. Moreover, most of these operate online, as the internet is one of the pillars of the Estonian economy. When planning to enter the Estonian e-commerce market, we should keep all of this in mind, especially since Estonia established a universally accessible, free Wi-Fi network over 20 years ago. This, in turn, has greatly facilitated the spread of the internet across the majority of the country.
At the same time, if we want to conquer the Estonian online sales market, we will have to take into account the significant competition. In Estonia, it is much easier to start and run a company than is the case in Poland, for instance. This, in turn, directly translates into a substantial number of domestic online stores – according to the relevant data, the current number is approx. 6000.
However, it does not mean that it is impossible to succeed on the Estonian e-commerce market. The residents of Bolt’s homeland are eager to shop online for foreign products. The only exception is food, as Estonians prefer local produce.
Generally speaking, the Estonian business community is quite accessible and definitely internet-friendly. Even though the Estonian society is an ageing one, it is highly connected and familiar with the secrets of online shopping. This, in turn, is conducive to online store growth.
This is shown by the recently collected data. According to this research, the total number of online transactions in Estonia in the fourth quarter of 2021 was almost 6 million. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, it represents a 218% increase! The coronavirus pandemic was a major catalyst here. Still, it has greatly accelerated the e-commerce market and shows no signs of slowing down. After all, it is estimated that the overall Estonian e-commerce income for 2022 will come to almost USD 1 billion!
of the population has access to the Internet
of users use Google
When preparing a positioning strategy for Estonia, we must focus on the data showing the relative popularity of various search engines on the market. As per the European data, Google is the dominant player. It is immensely popular in Estonia, as over 95% of internet users favour this search engine. What about the giant’s competition, though? Below is the complete breakdown:
Since Google is the dominant player here, we should focus on it first. Over a million users actively use this search engine. This presents magnificent opportunities, but also requires a lot of work to effectively capitalise on. Once we have begun to achieve satisfactory results through Google, we can take a closer look at other online tools, such as Microsoft’s Bing.
Comprehensive positioning activities must also include the store’s website. To adjust it to the users’ needs, it is necessary to examine the most frequently used internet browser ranking. The Estonians’ preferences are hardly surprising. True to European form, Google Chrome is the most popular browser here, as it is used by over 67% of the local users. The entire ranking is as follows:
The presence of Safari is to be expected, too. After all, many Estonians use Apple devices on a daily basis. We should also pay attention to the remaining browsers’ comparable ranks. Edge, Opera and Firefox enjoy comparable shares of the market. This means we must keep them in mind while optimising our store’s website.
Numerous factors have shaped Estonia’s economy. Liberation from Soviet dominance, economic reorganisation, joining the European Union, the grim experiences of the economic crisis over a decade ago – these are just a few of the relevant factors.
It is worth examining the average Estonian consumer’s profile to understand their shopping habits and priorities, and to determine their online shopping platforms of choice.
The statistically average Priit Tamm (the local equivalent of John Smith) is quite competent at navigating the nooks and crannies of websites, online stores and social media outlets. This is an excellent departure point and a solid foundation for our future activities. We should keep in mind that in spite of the country’s high digitisation ratio and the local users’ relative digital competence, Estonian consumers still put a premium on the products’ prices. This sets them apart from German consumers, for instance. Still, this factor should not be taken too personally! As their incomes increase, Estonians are growing more likely to spend more online.
What are their favourite products?
What categories are most popular amongst Estonian e-commerce clients? Let us take a closer look at a relevant list. According to this list, Estonian consumers are most eager to purchase products from the following categories:
As far as everyday items are concerned, Estonian consumers are least likely to buy food.
As expected, foreign sales platforms predominate on the market. Of particular note are Amazon, AliExpress and Alibaba, favoured by 52% of the users.
The Estonians pay for their purchases primarily by wire transfer (56% of the users), credit/debit cards (31% of the users) and e-wallet services, such as the famous PayPal (8% of the users). As a consequence, we should provide our Estonian clients with each of these options, especially since the number of e-commerce users is estimated to continue growing!
According to the relevant statistics, the greatest percentage of Estonian internet users prefer international domains. 90% of the local users use Google.com. As such, while creating an Estonian store website, we should stick to the general ‘.com’ domain.
On the other hand, Estonia’s national domain (“.ee”) is on the second place, followed by the Russian one (“.ru”). The latter is a consequence of the fact than as much as 1/3 of the populace are Russian speakers.
As a result, to reach as many prospective clients as possible and gain their trust, we should create a “.com” domain store with two language-specific extensions – “.ee” and “.ru”. Doing this, the store’s address can resemble the below samples:
The Estonian market is characterised by a very high level of online awareness. As such, local internet users are eager to shop online, which translates into very impressive economic results for such a small country. As mentioned above, total e-commerce income for 2022 is estimated to be almost USD 1 billion. This prediction can stimulate our thirst for success.
As an important side note, the Estonians are eager to buy foreign products online. As a consequence, Polish stores can be successful there, assuming competent management, optimisation and positioning activities are in place.
The proximity of Estonia and its presence in the European economic zone greatly facilitate the logistical aspects of the business – especially if the parcel is dispatched directly from Poland.
Another notable factor is Estonia’s high level of cybersecurity.
For our positioning activities in Estonia to be effective, we should focus on a tailored link building strategy. It should be based on collecting strong, valuable links originating from other websites (both Estonian- and Russian-language ones).
Effective Content Marketing is critical here. Thematic articles containing key phrases and intelligently deployed store links should be published on ‘respectable’ websites, defined as trusted and safe by search engines. The content is very important as well, as it is the foundational element of user engagement.
Another critical element of effective link building is modern Buzz Marketing. However, linking posts published on thematically relevant forums should not be overly intrusive. Caution is advisable here.
We must also remember to properly optimise our store’s website. The presence of product subcategories and detailed, quality product descriptions containing keywords and internal links is bound to positively affect the website’s overall quality and its indexing potential.
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Any online store active on the Estonian market should be available in Estonian and Russian. Since 2/3 of the populace speaks Estonian, and 1/3 speaks Russian, this is the most appropriate solution. If we address our clients in their native languages, they will be more likely to trust our website. Likewise, the users will find it much easier to navigate the store and make purchases. After all, that’s what we really want!
This is a difficult question to answer. Many variables affect how quickly our efforts bear fruit. We should keep in mind that Google is the most popular search engine in Estonia, so the competition has not been able to establish a strong presence in other engines. As a consequence, this will be the market’s centre of gravity and key battleground. Just as importantly, our specific industry is going to affect the speed and effectiveness of our positioning activities. Generally speaking, the more popular the industry, the greater the challenges we face. Other relevant factors are the key phrases selected, the relative strength of our website, and our SEO budget.