Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and, reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 9/22/2017
Overview
Ecommerce is growing in Macedonia but is still relatively low, both in terms of local merchants selling and consumers shopping online. In 2010, less than 1 percent of Macedonia’s citizens were buying online. A 2015 UNCTAD report measuring the e-commerce readiness of countries ranked Macedonia near the bottom.
 
In 2016 internet penetration was 75.3 percent; 81 percent of internet users could access the internet via a smartphone.
 
Of those with internet access, 19.3 percent ordered through the internet in 2016:  40.8 percent from local companies, 20.7 from the EU, and 58.6 percent from other areas of the world.
 
Consumers in Macedonia spent USD 95 million on online purchases of clothing and sports equipment (55 percent), electronic equipment (16.3 percent), and household goods (13.1 percent) in 2016.
 
Current Market Trends
While eCommerce continues to grow, Macedonia has several barriers to eCommerce.  Economic barriers include lack of purchasing power and under-developed financial systems to support eCommerce.  Many local consumers and businesspeople have poor ICT literacy and lack knowledge of eCommerce.  Consumers still prefer face-to-face interactions and cash payments.  The legal and regulatory framework is not fully up to date.
 
Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
Domestic eCommerce is still relatively underdeveloped. The share of individuals shopping online and local businesses selling online is lower than might be expected.  Grouper.mk (a local version of Groupon) is the most popular domestic eCommerce site.  Other local businesses selling to customers online include companies that sell event tickets, deliver groceries, and deliver carry-out restaurant meals. Customers shopping online, including through Facebook, generally pay cash upon delivery.
 
Media coverage of eCommerce most commonly focuses on the risk of counterfeits purchased online.  There is no significant debate or communication between the business community and government bodies. Banks offer eBanking services, but there is no wider support stimulating eCommerce activities.
 
Cross-Border eCommerce 
Almost 60 percent of online purchases in 2016 were made from foreign websites, with   Aliexpress.com the most popular. The 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
B2B eCommerce is under-developed in Macedonia.  Less than 10 percent of enterprises receive or place orders online.  B2B eCommerce is most common in the ICT sector.

eCommerce Services 
The eCommerce service system is not well developed in Macedonia.  Service providers include Makedonski Telekom and Stopanska Banka.
 
eCommerce Intellectual Property Rights
Unfortunately, many local consumers have low levels of digital literacy and purchase cheap fakes online believing they are genuine.  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 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.
 
Online Payment
Macedonia lacks full access to innovative payment systems, especially for mobile commerce.  Internet transactions originating in Macedonia have been blocked or restricted by several major e-commerce sites, including Amazon and e-Bay.  Consumers in Macedonia may use PayPal only to send funds.
 
Mobile eCommerce 
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
Digital marketing is increasing.  Facebook advertising is currently the most successful, due to the popularity of Facebook in Macedonia.
 
Major Buying Holidays 
Major consumer buying holidays in Macedonia are Orthodox Christmas, Orthodox Easter and Ramadan Bajram.  Because of the start of traditional summer holidays period, the end of June and beginning of July are also popular among shoppers.
 
Social Media 
With over 1 million accounts, Facebook is by far the most popular social media in Macedonia.  Twitter is primarily used by opinion makers.  LinkedIn is most popular for professionals, but its penetration remains low.  Young generations use Instagram and WhatsApp.  Viber is becoming popular and is used to make phone calls and send messages.
 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Macedonia eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce