What e-commerce topics the Balkans are most interested in? Get an overview with Mergado internal survey
Is your online store expanding to the Balkans? Get an overview of what to focus on when penetrating Balkan e-commerce. The survey of the most discussed Facebook group topics, which we conducted from May 2020 to January 2021, will help you.
With Mergado to Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia
At the beginning of last year, Mergado went to the e-commerce markets of the former Yugoslavia. Before the expansion, we conducted market research and evaluated the risks. Based on it, we decided on local language support in Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia.
However, our research is not over. We constantly want to know what the needs of each market are and what the current issues are. We are also making comparisons with markets in which we already operate. We want to know what is similar for them and how they differ. It is subjective research. Therefore, you may think that you would evaluate the information differently.
The results of the monitoring below are from May 2020 to January 2021. There were thousands of questions and discussions during that time. We divided the most common ones into topics and calculated their frequency. The whole e-commerce world is not addressed only on Facebook. It is often used mainly by newcomers, and the contributions of professionals are rare. But we were also interested in that. That is why we divided the questions into Beginners and Advanced. For the article needs, we refer to the discussants from the FB groups as Balkans. We surveyed users more or less uniformly in this research. And we have noticed that a significant proportion of users are similarly present in all groups across countries.
You may learn a lot from the topics of e-commerce groups on Facebook
Part of our regular survey is to study what topics are discussed in e-commerce groups on Facebook. In the Balkans, we monitored (and we still do via RSS) questions and discussions in our known, largest Facebook groups focused on e-commerce:
- Dropshipping Balkan (26,8 K members)
- eCommerce Hrvatska (7,1 K members)
- Glorify Balkan - eCommerce & Dropshipping zajednica Balkana (3,7 K members)
- Internet marketing Slovenia (1,7 K members)
- Dropshipping & eCommerce Macedonia (1,1 K members)
- E-Commerce magazin (511 likes)
Feel free to use them for your research or monitoring.
The existence of online stores is linked to the work of agencies and freelancers
Not only store operators can benefit from a lot of information about Balkan e-commerce. If you are a freelancer or an agency with ambitions to break through abroad, you will also find several tips in the article below.
What are the major e-commerce issues the Balkans are addressing?
The most frequently discussed topic in Balkan Facebook groups focused on e-commerce is payment methods. They are about which ones are the best, how to connect them, and which have the lowest fees.
Also, the Balkans frequently ask questions about PayPal. How to open a business account on it? How to tax income? Or how can you withdraw money in your currency from PayPal? Of interest are the questions about payment via SMS.
More advanced Balkans are also interested in cryptocurrencies. For example: "We have a payment gateway, but how to receive cryptocurrencies and how to tax them properly?"
The most popular payment gateways in the Balkans based on research:
- Monri (comes from Croatia, 30% of Croatian online stores use it according to its data)
And what about your store? Do you allow payments via PayPal? Are you planning to offer additional payment gateways?
Dropshipping is a big topic in the Balkans. It is confirmed by frequently asked questions about the age from which it is possible to start dropshipping. Related to this are frequent questions about dropshipping training courses and mentors. Discussions are most often about dropshipping courses by Miloš Vašič and Aleksander Stanić. But we cannot say if these courses are popular or if it is an artificial interest.
Suppliers from AliExpress and Alibaba marketplaces are the most discussed. A frequent topic was the automation of orders and the related connection to the stocks of Asian suppliers.
The Balkans have no problem going beyond the country in which they live. Therefore, some of the questions also focused on the use of fulfillment centers in the USA. The questions were mainly about Zendrop, the most cost-effective centers, and instructions on how to sell them effectively.
What does this mean for you?
E-shoppers in the countries of the former Yugoslavia are skilled drop shippers. See the delivery time of the goods of your main competitors in the country where you expand. Is it a dropshipping model with long delivery times? Offering shorter delivery times could be your main competitive advantage.
The fact that traders from the Balkans are interested in selling abroad is also confirmed by questions about legal requirements.
Topics of questions:
- virtual headquarters and the establishment of companies in other countries (e. g. in Croatia, the solution of a physical warehouse for trade is mandatory by law, and the store cannot trade without it.)
- in which countries are the best conditions for doing business
- what are the practices with paying taxes (“If I am a Serb and have an online store in England, who should I pay taxes to?”)
What you need to know if you want to advertise in the Balkans
Although the countries of the former Yugoslavia are linguistically and culturally relatively close, a uniform approach will not be enough for you to expand on several of them at once. Not all Balkan countries are in the European Union. Also, each has a different currency and several specifics that you need to know.
- Learn how to succeed in Croatian e-commerce with a foreign store.
Beginners most often asked general questions. Most of these questions were during the first wave of the pandemic when lockdown began in the Balkans. Brick and mortar shops began to establish virtual branches at that time.
What e-shoppers were most interested in:
- what are the best courses to gain online marketing education
- what services marketing agencies offer to online stores
- what is dropshipping
- demand for the work of marketing experts
More advanced ones include questions about scams such as stolen Facebook pages or copied product descriptions and a request for specific help from experts (e. g. SEO solutions for a web merchant with many products).
How to attract in the Balkans
Do you have Balkan specialists on your team? If you want to expand to these countries with a marketing agency or as a freelancer, try a self-promo through advice in Facebook groups or specialized courses. It makes it easier for stores to find partners who will take care of their marketing.
Questions about advertising on Facebook and Instagram were often beginner in nature. Through them, freelancers and marketing agencies created advertising in this way.
How to use it
Are you looking for inspiration on how to reach potential customers from Facebook and Instagram users in Croatia? See how two local agencies, which fascinated us with their self proms, do this:
From the discussions on shipping, we conclude that the Balkans are mainly drop shippers and experts in cross-border sales. Frequently asked questions such as: "We are an online store in Macedonia, and we want to send orders to Croatia. What is the best way to do it?" or "Who will guarantee delivery of the shipment from the Netherlands to Germany within two working days?"
What is most important when shipping goods in the Balkans
Do not forget to count there are two different shipping prices here. Prices for shipment within the mainland are different from those for delivery to the island and can thus vary significantly.
Also, SEO and PPC questions are asked by marketing beginners. Here, too, you can reach new customers who will use your services.
- How to tax Google ads?
- How to open an account?
- How to set up a smart campaign? Why doesn't a smart campaign do what I want?
- What are SEO plugins for WordPress?
In the Balkans, advertising on Viber and WhatsApp is being often addressed.
Are you looking for a PPC expert for the Balkans?
Address Miroslav Varga. This senior PPC is considered the father of PPC in the Balkans.
Much of the questions in this category focus on pricing policy and more successful sales. Engage e-shoppers with knowledge of more effective advertising. Many e-shoppers who need advice can become your stable clients in this way by answering questions such as: "Do you prefer gifts or vouchers?" or "We are going to raise the price from next year, does anyone have experience how to do it successfully?"
This topic addresses the most powerful solution for online stores in the Balkans, Shopify and the e-commerce platform WooCommerce pro WordPress. Can you advise store operators with various connections to this solution, couriers, payment gateways, or other templates? You may increase the attractiveness of your agency portfolio.
There is still low interest in the comparison engines on Balkan Facebook groups. A smaller number of questions in Croatia focused on the experience of the major local engines, Jeftinije and Nabava. In Macedonia and Serbia, questions were directed at the local number one Eponuda. However, the answers of local marketers show that they understand the issues of the comparison engines well. Even in the case of advertising on local engines, if you know how to use them effectively, you will increase the potential to gain customers in the Balkans.
Comparison engines have great potential for expansion
- The market in the Balkans comparison engines is not yet extensive. If you want to expand to the Balkans, be sure to take advantage of their opportunities.
- Many opportunities wait for you here. So far, only 500 online stores are advertised on the largest comparison engine:
With Mergado, you can set up advertising for well-known Balkan formats yourself
Are you considering expanding to one of the Balkan online markets? With Mergado, you can convert the formats you use to the ones you currently need. With our virtual administrator, you can automatically manage data feeds. In Mergado, you can manage store advertising yourself. It will speed up daily marketing tasks and save costs for the work of programmers.
What does the survey of topics discussed by the Balkans show? That even though local users and users are new to e-commerce, they are interested in new opportunities. And this is where great power for more experienced resellers or marketing agencies and freelancers is. If you have a good knowledge of online marketing, do not hesitate to reach potential customers through your professionalism. It will increase the credibility and interest of your company.