North Macedonia - eCommerce North Macedonia - eCommerce
eCommerce is growing in North Macedonia, but is still relatively low, both in terms of local merchants selling and consumers shopping online. A 2018 UNCTAD report measuring the B2C e-commerce index of countries ranked North Macedonia 48 out of 151 countries.
By the end of December 2018 internet penetration was 75.9 percent, compared to 46 percent in 2010.
The number and value of completed online orders and purchases in 2018 compared to 2017, shows that eCommerce in North Macedonia is on the rise. In 2018, a total of 5,435,285 online transactions were completed, compared to 4,293,214 online transactions in 2017, an increase of 21 percent.Analyses done by the Association of eCommerce of Macedonia (AECM), show that consumers in North Macedonia in 2018 spent over USD 150 million on online purchases of clothing and sports equipment. The orders are usually made on foreign eCommerce sites (outside Europe).
About 80 percent of online purchases in 2018 in North Macedonia were made via AliExpress retail service and other foreign websites, mostly in the UK, Luxemburg, Hungary, the United States and Ireland. Users mostly ordered consumer goods such as clothes and sports equipment. For specific needs, eBay is used, although on a much smaller scale. Consumers are extremely price sensitive, and price is usually the decisive factor in purchase decisions.
B2B eCommerce is under-developed in North Macedonia. B2B eCommerce is most common in the Information Communications and Technology (ICT) sector.
Although increasing, the eCommerce service system is not well developed in North Macedonia. Largest service providers include Makedonski Telekom, Halkbank, UNI Bank and Stopanska Banka.
eCommerce Intellectual Property Rights
Many local consumers have low levels of digital literacy and purchase cheap fakes online believing they are genuine. North Macedonia’s Customs Administration is aware of the potential for intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement in eCommerce. The Customs Administration inspects packages arriving from foreign online retailers and holds IPR infringing goods. To protect consumers from fake drugs sold over the internet, since 2015 local law has prohibited the online sale of medications that are available only by prescription in North Macedonia.
Popular eCommerce Sites
The most popular foreign eCommerce site is AliExpress. The most popular domestic eCommerce site is Grouper.mk, an eCommerce marketplace connecting consumers with merchants.
North Macedonia lacks full access to innovative payment systems, especially for mobile commerce. Internet transactions originating in North Macedonia have been blocked or restricted by several major e-commerce sites, including Amazon and e-Bay. Consumers in North Macedonia may use PayPal only to send funds.
Smartphone usage in Macedonia continues to rise. Shopping through mobile devices still lags, in part due to delays in implementing technologies to facilitate mobile eCommerce.
Digital marketing is increasing. Facebook advertising is currently the most successful, due to the popularity of Facebook in North Macedonia.
Major Buying Holidays
Major consumer buying holidays in Macedonia are Orthodox Christmas, Orthodox Easter, and Ramadan. Because of the start of the traditional summer holiday period, the end of June and beginning of July are also popular among shoppers.
With over 1 million accounts, Facebook is by far the most popular social media in North Macedonia. Twitter is primarily used by opinion makers. LinkedIn is most popular for professionals, but its penetration remains low. Younger generations use Instagram and WhatsApp. Viber is popular and is used to make phone calls and send messages.