– what do you need to know?
Slightly more than 2 million people live in North Macedonia. Over 85% of this small country’s population are internet users. Even though this number is not quite as impressive as the equivalent figures in European leaders such as Germany and the UK, it still presents us with considerable business opportunities.
The descendants of Alexander the Great put a premium on mobility. As such, the country’s most popular devices used to browse the web are smartphones. Some 2/3 of the users use them to explore the web! The complete breakdown is as follows:
As a consequence of such large percentage differences in various device types, you must pay particular attention to the requirements of each while optimising your store website. If you do that, both smartphone and laptop users will be able to navigate the website in a convenient manner.
When discussing the Macedonians’ online activities, we must mention their social media presence. It is estimated that, as of January 2022, some 1.35 million local users had a social media account. If this number is consistent with the number of genuine users (which, unfortunately, is difficult to verify) it would mean that almost 65% of the local internet users are present on social media outlets.
Facebook is the dominant social media platform in Macedonia. It completely outclasses the competition, as it controls as much as 95% of the market! The general social media breakdown is as follows:
The greatest period of social media growth occurred in years 2021–2022. During this period, some 150,000 new users signed up!
The inhabitants of North Macedonia are not quite as eager to buy online as their Western European counterparts, but the situation continues to evolve yearly. Several factors contribute to this situation. First of all, local financial systems are underdeveloped. The problem is further compounded by the legal issues which apparently cannot keep up with the shifting commercial situation. However, this does not mean Macedonian consumers buy nothing online.
The above problems most acutely affect domestic sellers. This is confirmed by the data, since as much as 80% of e-commerce transactions is conducted by foreign sellers, especially those from EU member states (almost 21% of the total volume) and the rest of the world (especially China, which accounts for some 59%). This is good news for Polish companies, as the local market appreciates foreign products. Moreover, market development forecasts estimate that the overall e-commerce income in Macedonia for 2022 will be over USD 482 million.
of the population enjoys internet access
of users use Google
If you want to effectively position your business in North Macedonia, you should take a closer look at the most popular search engine ranking. This will give you an idea of which search engines the locals favour most, and which you should prioritise.
Google is the dominant search engine in Macedonia. This is hardly surprising, given the general European statistics. It is so popular that it controls almost 96% of the local market. The overall breakdown is as follows:
The absolute dominance of Google determines the first steps of any successful positioning strategy. Your basic objective should be to harness the power of Google. Only later (based on the most recent research) should you move on to the remaining search engines.
Another important aspect of correct SEO optimisation is the breakdown of the most popular internet browsers. Evidently, Macedonians have taken a liking to Google’s products, as Chrome is the most popular browser, favoured by over 76% of the local users. The full ranking is as follows:
Even though Chrome enjoys the dominant position in Macedonia, a substantial percentage of the local users favour Safari and Firefox. As such, you must keep them in mind while preparing SEO activities.
As mentioned before, the e-commerce market in North Macedonia is not as impressive as its Western European equivalent. Several key factors contribute to this situation. They include the country’s population, economic situation, and purchasing power. Just as important are the local consumers’ shopping habits, their relationship with online banking, and the digitisation level of financial transactions.
According to financial data related to Macedonians aged 15 years and older, over 76% of them own an account at a bank or another financial institution. Slightly over half of them use debit cards, but only 17% use credit cards. Compared to more prosperous countries, the local online financial activity indicators are nothing special. Only two Macedonians out of three made an electronic transfer last year or received money the same way. Moreover, less than 17% have made an online payment. 12% of Macedonian users have used online banking, and only 10% have paid bills online.
At a glance, these results do not seem particularly conducive to online trade. However, let us shift our perspective a little. In terms of e-commerce, Macedonia is very much a developing country. This means the short-term forecast is actually rather optimistic. It is estimated that the number of online consumers will increase to as many as 0.9 million by 2025. This means approximately 44% of the country’s population. This is a substantial percentage that will serve as the foundation of future market growth.
Currently, Macedonians are most eager to buy the following online: articles of clothing, electronics, and home appliances/products. They put a premium on prices, so cheaper, more affordable products are the most popular ones.
They most often pay for their purchases with credit cards, prepaid cards and mobile payment systems.
An interesting side-note (which also matters in the context of marketing campaign planning) is that Macedonian online clients are particularly active during the build up to various holidays, such as Orthodox Christmas, Easter and Ramadan. You should also remember late June and early July, as this period marks the beginning of school vacations.
The local consumers definitely favour local online shopping platforms, but the Chinese AliExpress giant has been making inroads as well. The ranking of the most powerful local e-commerce players is as follows:
Online research suggests that North Macedonians use mostly international domains. Those contain the “.com” suffix in their names. However, the local “.mk” domain is present here as well, as is (curiously enough) the German one (“.de”).
Nonetheless, the international “.com” domain is the dominant one, so that is where you should focus your efforts. Still, it is a good idea to provide the local language extension and add the national domain right after the international one. If you do that, the store address could look something like this: mypage.com/mk. Macedonian clients will appreciate this symbolic gesture, especially if it comes with a special, Macedonian-language website.
North Macedonia’s e-commerce market is admittedly a developing one. However, it is still quite active in spite of the problems related to chronically obsolete technologies related to finance and payments. This activity is particularly notable within the context of international shopping, which presents Polish companies with an excellent opportunity.
Internet sales are estimated to continue their upward trajectory. As a consequence, it is a good idea to start positioning your store in the country’s most popular search engines and win over the local clients. You should pay particular attention to the products’ prices and their variety. Also, keep in mind that the store website has to be properly optimised, both for the search engine bots and the users themselves. The latter will appreciate the local language version and the website’s adaptation to the devices used by the clients.
Since the Macedonian e-commerce market has a bright future, but still retains many traditional facets, you should adopt and conduct a link-gaining strategy following standard, proven directions.
Intelligent Content Marketing activities will be valuable here. Publishing quality Macedonian-language content (containing key words) on respected websites will contribute to your ultimate success. It is important for the linking websites to be historically respectable and defined as safe by search engine bots. Thanks to this, you will be able to secure strong links that will consolidate your store’s position.
Classic Buzz Marketing is an excellent complement to your Content Marketing activities. Essentially, it is based on securing thematically- and commercially-relevant links from dedicated forums.
The website itself needs to be properly optimised as well. Providing it with product and category descriptions containing key words and internal links will greatly strengthen the website and improve its quality.
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Many Polish entrepreneurs will likely think twice before entering the Macedonian market. This is hardly surprising, since it is not quite as large as its Italian or German equivalents. However, it also presents you with considerable possibilities and a chance to become the dominant player in the given industry. Since only 5% of Macedonian companies conducted online sales in 2016, and given that foreign brands are very popular, you can find a niche allowing you to successfully enter the local market. The GDP of countries like Macedonia, which are still developing their internal e-commerce markets, is estimated to grow in the short term. If you time your entry well, you can take part in this. It is notable that in 2018 the number of online transactions increased by as much as 21% compared to 2017!
First of all, you should find an experienced SEO agency which, thanks to its know-how, will be able to meet the challenges of the Macedonian market. Marketing specialists will prepare the entire strategy, taking into consideration dedicated website condition and utility audits. They will create a positioning activity plan, focus on optimising the store website and prepare a Content Marketing strategy. To achieve the intended objectives, they will also cooperate with Macedonian language copywriters to ensure that the relevant content (both that published on the website proper and externally as a part of link building) are valuable and build client engagement, which is a must in the Macedonia.