The North Macedonia e-commerce market is witnessing a growth rate of 16% over the forecast period from 2022 to 2027. North Macedonia's eCommerce market is expanding, but it remains small in local businesses selling and consumers shopping online. Most E-commerce sales in North Macedonia originate from AliExpress and other foreign websites, particularly from the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Hungary, the United States, and Ireland. The majority of orders were for consumer goods like clothing and sports equipment. Consumers are price-sensitive, and the price is often the deciding factor in purchasing decisions.
- In North Macedonia, many domestic buyers lack digital literacy and buy inexpensive knockoffs online, assuming they are authentic. The Customs Administration of North Macedonia is aware of the risk of infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in eCommerce. The Customs Administration inspects packages arriving from foreign online retailers and holds IPR infringing goods.
- Additionally, North Macedonia does not have complete access to cutting-edge payment technologies, particularly for mobile commerce. Several major e-commerce platforms, including Amazon and e-Bay, have barred or restricted purchases originating in North Macedonia. PayPal can only be used to send money in North Macedonia.
- North Macedonia is no exception to e-rapid commerce's growth, which the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated. According to the Association for E-Annual commerce's Report for North Macedonia for 2020, the value of online transactions increased by 56% in 2020 compared to 2017. According to the same report, the number of internet selling points (or "e-selling points") in North Macedonia expanded to 1,342 in September 2020, up from only 342 in 2018.
- Moreover, the expanding importance of the e-commerce market has prompted a number of initiatives by various authorities and organizations, such as the recently launched platform "Ecommerce4all," which is co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development ("USAID"). This platform featured, among other things, the creation of a free instructional web platform that compiles all of the material needed to start and run an e-business.
- Additionally, the e-commerce association of North Macedonia said that, with the help of the German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, it will build a regional portal for e-commerce information in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) countries (GIZ). The regional platform will be a rollout of an e-commerce platform that was launched in 2020 for the North Macedonian market to other CEFTA nations.
- The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of the studied market in the coutnry. According to a survey carried out by the Macedonian E-commerce Association in its Ecommerce Analysis Report, 37% of shoppers have increased their online purchases since the start of the pandemic. Further, around 20% of the respondents have started using e-government services for the first time. The country is characterized by increasing interest in the online channels of shopping.
Key Market Trends
Wide Availability of Internet will Boost the Demand for E-commerce
- Internet and Wi-fi are widely available in restaurants, cafes, hotels, and hostels, although free wi-fi is not always advertised in food and drink venues. Some hotels have computers in common areas. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored the 'Macedonian Connects' project, which helped to make North Macedonia the first all-broadband wireless country in the world.
- Even in remote mountain towns where residents do not have phones, the wireless connection is available to a significant percent of the population. North Macedonia is ranked 92nd in the world in terms of internet hosts and 79th in terms of fixed internet broadband subscriptions, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- In 2020, 71% of internet users in North Macedonia utilized the internet at least once a day, according to a European survey on information and communication technologies by Eurostat. However, North Macedonia had a much lower number of daily internet users than other European countries.
- The percentage of individuals in North Macedonia who use the internet on a daily basis was lower than the EU-27 average of 80% in 2020. The overall share of households in North Macedonia with internet access was similar to that in neighboring countries like Greece and Bulgaria. However, after even the low usage of internet there is a high availability of wifi and Internet in the country that will enable the demand for the E-commerce in the country.
- There are also no official limits on internet use, but new concerns include privacy, bogus news, and hate speech. By market share, Google was the most popular search engine in the country, followed by Yahoo and Bing. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, Samsung Internet, and Internet Explorer were the most popular browsers. Furthermore, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the 'Macedonian Connects' project, which enabled North Macedonia become the world's first all-broadband wireless country.
Fashion and Apparel sector is anticipated to drive the E-commerce growth in the country
- According to Invest North Macedonia, the textile industry is the country's second-largest industrial sector after metallurgy and is one of the most developed and varied industries in terms of industrial production, employment, and export revenues. The textile and garment industry accounts for 17% of overall industrial GDP and 14% of total country exports. This element will also increase demand for the Textile sector in the E-commerce business.
- Another benefit is that local the have a positive reputation in the global market. Companies from the country have long been recognized for their quality and professionalism in the EU and US markets. The industry is also known for its high flexibility and willingness to adapt to the needs of international markets. Such considerations will provide local firms an advantage in selling their products online within the EU.
- Close proximity to EU markets and well-established transport and logistics networks. North Macedonia is home to most of the major European transportation companies' privately owned trucks and warehouses.
- Furthermore, Macedonian e-shoppers prefer to buy apparel and sports equipment online, according to the Macedonian E-Commerce Association. In 2020, approximately 40.1% of consumers made online purchases, with the majority of consumers purchasing clothing and other garments.
In North Macedonia, AliExpress and other foreign websites accounted for around 80% of all online purchases in 2020, according to the International Trade Administration. The majority of orders were for consumer goods like clothing and sports equipment. eBay is utilized for specific requirements, however on a much lesser scale. Orthodox Christmas, Orthodox Easter, and Ramadan are the three major consumer shopping holidays in North Macedonia.
- May 2021 - Payten, part of the software company Asseco, has acquired North Macedonia's leading e-commerce platform Grouper. Payten has acquired a 100% stake in Grouper as part of a strategy to expand the company's portfolio with trading solutions. With Grouper in its ranks, the company enriches its offer for all retailers and promotes Payten e-commerce solutions.
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