Macedonians spent more than 63 million dollars on online shopping in 2016

(This is a guest post written by Nina Angelovska, co-founder of the most renowned website for e-commerce in Macedonia, Grouper.mk. She also has a PhD at the Faculty of Economics in Skopje.)


The increase in successful transactions done on a personal computer is evident; only 19.3% of 72% of users ordered/ made a purchase of something over the internet in 2015.

E-Commerce in Macedonia marks a steady increase, especially after 2011. This wouldn’t have been possible without the sites that allow buying in bulk, especially Grouper, which became operational in January 2011. Grouper encouraged citizens to bite the bullet and make their first online purchase just so they could take advantage of the numerous deep discounts. As a result, not only people become better educated in terms of online shopping but it also allowed a lot of companies to become part of e-commerce. Today, Grouper has over 130.000 users that also use the website as a guide and a place for discovering new places, making travel arrangements, or simply getting their hands on the desired product for less money.

We’ve kept track of successful online transactions thanks to the financial report released by National Bank (Narodna Banka). When compared to 2013, it is evident that 2014 is the year that marks 350% increase in online transactions, which is hardly a realistic comparison since 2014 is also known as the year of aggressive campaigns that encouraged people to start paying their bills (phone, water, electricity) online. 2015, however, has a 61% increase in online transactions done from the comfort of a personal computer.

When it comes to influencing e-commerce, a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration: willingness of the population to make full payments, political and economic factors, the time of adjustment and acceptance of new technologies and trends, pc literacy and so on. It goes without saying that one of the conditions that are to be met head on is also having access to internet. According to State Statistical Office, in the first quarter of 2016, 72% of the population, age between 15 and 17 years, used internet, but only 61% used it on a daily basis. However, only 19.3% used internet capabilities to order or purchase goods or services in the last 12 months. For comparison reasons, two thirds of the EU population shop online (Eurostat, 2016). This just goes to show that there’s a long way to walk until we are able to come even close to the more developed countries, not excluding the need for policy adaptation from e-merchants, institutions as well as banks.

Changes in the methodology of NBRP that opens up new possibilities for data analysis in the e-commerce market

Keeping in mind the needs for proper analysis of the growing interest in e-commerce, the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia has come up with the decision to change the methodology of collecting data from the systems. The decision took place in April 2016 and, in part, is adjusted to fit the European Central Bank Standards. The new, improved way opened up possibilities for in-depth analysis of e-commerce in Macedonia and better understanding about how many Macedonians purchased from Macedonian online stores as well as how many Macedonians made online purchases in stores outside of Macedonia. According to the new report, successful online transactions can be classified into three types:

  • Transactions in the country with local cards
  • Transactions in the country with foreign cards
  • Transactions outside the country with local (Macedonian) cards

According to the released data from NBRP, up until September, 2016, the number of online transactions via personal computer has risen by 32% (compared to previous year). Most transactions were done in January, June, July and August.

How often did Macedonians make online purchases from local or foreign online stores?

Macedonians spent a lot more funds on purchases on foreign fronts. This is self-evident and not at all surprising, especially if we take into consideration that foreign merchants offer a lot more for a lot less.

Last year and more specifically from January to September, out of 63 million euros 72.7% of online transactions (45.8 million euros) were made in foreign stores, while only 18.9 million euros were spent for purchasing goods from Macedonian online merchants.

How successful are Macedonian merchants when it comes to grabbing foreigner’s attention?

From January to September 2016, 8% of monthly transactions were used by nonresidents to purchase goods or services digitally, from the virtual POS terminal. This comes down to 1.4 million euros.

Legal entities buy more from local merchants.

Depending on whether we are talking about transactions made by legal entities or individuals, it is evident that individuals are better at spending money online no matter where the merchants are (76% are purchases made outside Macedonia and 82% participation is set aside for local merchants).

When discussing transactions made from local cards towards local merchants we don’t see that much of a difference between legal entities and individuals. It is a completely different story when it comes to online transactions done in foreign stores. On a monthly basis and in the first nine months of 2016, legal entities were involved in around 6.5% of the total number of made transactions.

Regarding the number of successful transactions, local merchants contribute with 45% while the rest, 55%, is for foreign online stores.

According to the graphs depicting online transactions, one cannot help but wonder about the actual value of transactions made in foreign online stores. On average, one transaction from a local card, from January to September 2016, was about 1650 denars. In foreign stores, one transaction went about 2190 denars, or 980 denars with local merchants.

There are 669 registered internet-selling destinations on the market!

Before the whole change with the methodology and releasing the new report for Jan-Sep 2016, there was no official information on how many online stores are in the country. The good news about all of this is that we now have this information in our possession and we can closely follow its development. In January 2017, there were 585 internet stores and in September the number increased to 669 online stores. However, we don’t know if all of these merchants are active and how much of the registered virtual selling stores are actually open.

Key statistics:

  • Macedonians spent 63 million euros for online shopping from January to September 2016.
  • According to State Statistical Office, in the first quarter of 2016, 72% of the population, age between 15 and 17 years, used internet, but only 61% used it on a daily level.
  • two thirds of the EU population shop online (Eurostat, 2016).
  • 7% of online transactions (45.8 million euros) were made in foreign stores
  • While only 18.9 million euros were spent for purchasing goods from Macedonian online merchants
  • 8% of monthly transactions were used by nonresidents to purchase goods or services digitally, from the virtual POS terminal. This comes down to 1.4 million euros.
  • local merchants contribute with 45% while 55% are transactions completed in foreign online stores.
  • On average, one transaction from a local card, from January to September 2016, was about 1650 denars.
  • When dealing with foreign stores, one transaction was 2190 denars, or 980 denars with local merchants.
  • There are 669 registered internet-selling destinations on the market

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