E-commerce Export magazine: Croatia10.3.2023
A growth rate double that of many Central European countries despite the much lower number of online stores – this is how we could start by summarising the Adriatic jewel of e-commerce – Croatia. Even though the customer base here is somewhat smaller than in other European countries, growing mobile penetration and trust in online shopping make Croatia an ideal country for exports. Sharpen your attention and think with us about the expansion to the south, particularly now, while entry costs to this market are still relatively low.
One of the newest members of Schengen and the Euro Area
Beautiful mountains, enchanting beaches, ancient towns. We find the Republic of Croatia, one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, at the interface between Central and Southern Europe. The country has a population of 3.8 million, whose religious distribution is interesting – up to 90% of citizens belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Croatia with its capital Zagreb has since 2013 been a Member State of the European Union, and its e-commerce has been gradually growing since this year. What’s more, as of 1 January 2023, the country is also part of the Schengen Area and a member of the Euro Area (therefore, its currency is the new euro), which opens up new opportunities for development.
Size of the e-commerce market
Compared to other countries, the Croatian market is the 74th largest e-commerce market in the world, ahead of Panama and behind the Dominican Republic. Despite the high revenues in this area, the number of electronic stores in Croatia is very low compared to, for example, the Czech Republic or Slovakia; in 2021 there were only around three thousand Croatian e-shops. In addition to low competition, Croatia can offer e-commerce exporters an ever-growing and developing economic background. The unique positives here include an excellent geographical location, well-developed infrastructure and the availability of a qualified labour force.
Growth in the past, growth in the future
As in other European countries, the pandemic forced the increased use of e-commerce in Croatia. With year-on-year growth of 23%, the Croatian market contributed 18% to the global growth rate in 2021. The market is expected to continue to show positive numbers in the near future, as even retailers have now already developed online shopping platforms and customers are used to using them. One reason for the growth is the rapid expansion of online shopping in categories that were not even available in e-shops a few years ago, such as food or insurance.
Experts predict an annual growth rate of 12% until 2025; if these forecasts come true, Croatia will then surpass the global average. Compared to the latest data, this is a percentage drop, which indicates a slightly flooded market. According to statistics the measure of online user penetration is expected to rise; while in 2023 this is at a level of 64%, in four years it could reach 68.5%.
The biggest players on the Croatian market
Internet shops with nationally focused sales, whose sales are generated almost exclusively in this country, are also popular in Croatia. Unlike Slovenia or Romania, however, such e-shops occupied all the top-five leading positions.
- Ekupi.hr – main category: electronics and media
- Bauhaus.hr – toys and hobby
- Pevex.hr – furniture and appliances
- Sancta-domenica.hr – electronics and media, furniture and appliances
- Konzum.hr – food and personal care
It is no surprise that national e-shops are also winning in the individual sectors, though exceptions can be found only in the clothing and fashion category. The largest segment in Croatia is electronics and media, which generate up to 35% of all e-commerce revenues, followed by clothing and fashion (25%) and food and personal care (14%).
- Clothing, fashion – Zara.com, Aboutyou.hr, Hm.com, Zalando.hr, Shooster.hr
- Electronics and media – Ekupi.hr, Links.hr, Sancta-domenica.hr, Instar-informatika.hr, Mall.hr
- Toys and hobby – Bauhaus.hr, Ekupi.hr, Pet-centar.hr, Ikoma.hr, Pevex.hr
- Food and personal care – Konzum.hr, Notino.hr, Dm.hr, Fitness.com.hr, Douglas.hr
- Furniture and appliances – Ikea.com, Emmezeta.hr, Xxxlesnina.hr, Pevex.hr, Ekupi.hr
One of the fastest growing e-shops is the international Aboutyou.hr, whose revenues in 2021 increased by 765% year-on-year. We can also assign the popular chain of drugstores Dm.hr and the nationally focused e-shop from the toys and hobby category 3djake.hr among the growth champions.
Croats order goods most often from e-shops of European Union countries (from Germany, Italy or Hungary) and from China.
Croatians as online customers
After many years of economic recession, Croatia has finally recovered, and its residents are beginning to increase their household spending. Surveys have shown that in 2020, up to 61% of Croatian Internet users made at least one online purchase and of those asked, 36% shop online at least once a month, and the ongoing growth of the market can also be seen in the growing number of online users. What is most important for Croatians as customers?
A responsive website is the foundation
In Croatia, too, your e-shop should load without any problems on all types of devices. The majority of Croatian customers connect to the Internet through their mobile devices – like in other countries, smartphones are the most often used devices for online shopping in Croatia. Several e-commerce players already provide customers with their own mobile applications through which goods can be ordered.
Attractive prices predict success
The most significant purchasing factor in Croatia is price. Although residents like to follow innovations and trends, they don’t yet have sufficient economic power for this to be reflected in online commerce. Croatians are globally considered to bargain hunters who are not used to comparing price with other reasons for buying. Simply put – if you offer them affordable and attractive amounts for products, the probability of your success is very high. Various price comparator sites (for example Jeftinije.hr, Pevex.hr or Shopmania.hr) are extremely popular here; so make sure that your e-shop is also displayed on these pages.
Shopping as an experience – with availability and fast delivery
You can win over Croatian customers if you offer them a perfect shopping experience with top services. The option of free shipping, for example, is popular; Croatians also like to use personal pick-up, so drop-off points can also be a great choice for newer e-shops. Delivery speed is also important; ideally, customers should not have to wait more than three days for the goods to be delivered.
Collect both reviews and trademarks
Extensive parts of the Croatian e-commerce market operate in the so-called grey zone – they are conducted informally through social networks or portals. In order to significantly differentiate your e-shop and increase its credibility, it is a best practice to collect reviews on comparison platforms and various quality marks (such as, for example, the Croatian Quality Label or Croatian Eco Product).
Support of local producers vs. worldwide brands
As follows from the ranking of the largest players in the e-commerce market, Croatians value local brands and support local entrepreneurs. Although culture and local products are very important for local customers, online shopping as a whole does not reflect this trend. On the Internet, Croatian customers are increasingly reaching for international brands that they know and trust.
Up to 21% of customers used credit cards to pay for their online orders in 2020, and this number continues to grow. The second most common payment method is cash on delivery, followed by bank transfers. Prepaid cards and digital wallets are also gradually gaining popularity.
|Payment gateway||Price list of payment gateway services|
|Fondy||Price list of the payment gateway Fondy (universal for Europe)|
|GoPay||Price list for the payment gateway GoPay (universal for Europe)|
|PayPal||Price list of the payment gateway PayPal (universal for Europe)|
|Paysera||Price list of the payment gateway Paysera (Croatia)|
|PayU||Price list of the payment gateway PayU (universal for Europe)|
|Skrill||Price list of the payment gateway Skrill (Croatia – after entering a filter)|
|Stripe||Price list of the payment gateway Stripe (Croatia)|
|Tap2Pay||Price list of the payment gateway Tap2Pay (universal for Europe)|
A significant advantage lies in the fact that Croatia is located near the large market of Central Europe, which, thanks to sea transport, intensively generates intercontinental trade, especially with Asia. Road transport is the most widespread within Croatia. In the third quarter of 2022, a total of 30.5 million tons of goods 30 were transported. Croatian e-shops most often (36%) choose the GLS courier service as one of their providers, followed by DPD and Overseas Express.
|Courier company||Price list for parcel transport|
|GLS||Price of services for GLS|
|DPD||Price of services for DPD|
|Overseas Express||Price of services for Overseas Express|
|Hrvatska pošta||Price of services for Hrvatska pošta|
Attention should be paid to the delivery of goods to the islands, as transport services usually charge fees in such cases. These usually range from 20% – 75% of the price for the delivery of one shipment. Among the fulfilment services most used are Paket24, Cargo-Partner Hrvatska and Pick & Pack. And don’t forget that the most important thing for Croatian customers is the price and speed of delivery.
As a member of the European Union, Croatia applies all laws, instructions and standards within the EU Directive 2000/31/EC.
VAT in Croatia
The general rate for VAT in Croatia is 25%, though a reduced rate of 13% applies to accommodation services, meals and newspapers, and you will pay 5% VAT on selected food, books and medical devices.
Entry to the Euro Area
Croatia’s entry into the Euro Area created extra work for many online stores. Every e-shop must now have dual prices introduced on the home page, product subpages, the basket and checkout, when confirming the order – that is, wherever the price is displayed. The amount in euros should be displayed as primary, either to the left or above the price in Croatian kuna (HRK). E-shops are obligated to highlight the conversion rate (1 EUR = 7.53450 HRK), though it is enough to do so on a separate page. Dual prices must be presented on e-shops until 31 December 2023.
As part of the prices listed for the products, the conversion in its full numerical expression is required according to the central fixed rate. For Croatia, this means that the fixed conversion rate will consist of one whole number followed by five decimal places. Price conversion using a shortened conversion rate is not permitted.
|Price in HRK||Price before rounding||Price after rounding in EUR|
What to look out for with cookies and GDPR
The general data protection principles apply to all websites offering goods and services in the European Union. Website owners are obligated to provide information about all the data they process in a concise, transparent, comprehensible and easily accessible form and in the language of the country in which they are selling.
Digital advertising expenditures are expected to rise to 265.40 million euros in 2023. Search engine advertising should have the greatest potential this year, with a market volume of up to 109.20 million euros. By 2027, 54% of advertising expenditures are expected to be generated by mobile devices, with up to 92% being generated by programmatic marketing. The reach of advertising on social networks in 2022 was as follows:
- YouTube (2.90 million users) – 86.9%
- Facebook (1.75 million users) – 52.4%
- Instagram (1.45 million users) – 43.4%
- Facebook Messenger (1.35 million users) – 33.2%
- LinkedIn (730 thousand users) – 21.9%
Price significantly influences the shopping behaviour of Croatians. Therefore, the popularity of price comparators is typical for the country.
6 The 6 biggest price comparison sites in Croatia
- Jeftinije.hr – a wide range of products
- Pevex.hr – construction, furniture and decorative products
- Shopmania.hr – a wide range of products
- Nabava.hr – a wide range of products
- Glami.hr – fashion and accessories
- Favi.hr – furniture and decorative products
Of interest is that in Croatia there is a summer (starting on 1 July) and winter (27 December) season of discounts. The aim of seasonal sales is to prevent fraud and create equal sales conditions for all e-shops. A sale of this type can last for a maximum of 60 days. It is possible, however, that the discounts can occur even after 60 days, but they must not fall under the seasonal discounts.
Customer experience is an ongoing trend
Up to 71% of consumers expect companies to provide personalised solutions. A personalised e-shop offers a specific customer a unique experience of the entire process from visiting the site to making a purchase. A great helper can be headless e-commerce, which will eases your work in improving the customer experience. Show your customers that you care. They will thus build a stronger relationship with your brand and will certainly buy from you again.
The popularity of mobile shopping
According to the available data 64% of Croatians shop via smartphone, and 26% order goods this way several times a month. Croatians spend an average of 4.6 hours a day on their smartphones. Therefore, on top of the responsiveness of the web for mobile devices, it is necessary to pay attention to the applications, too. Hundreds of thousands of social network users are added every year, and 86% of users communicate through applications (such as Whatsapp, Messenger or Viber). That’s why, the right step can be an omnichannel solution, whose use allows you to reach a wider audience through several channels.
The topic of sustainability and ecology has more and more supporters in Croatia, too. In 2021 up to 84% of Croatians acknowledged that climate change has an impact on their daily life. E-shops from neighbouring countries already have several sustainable solutions in place; for example, the logistics sector is ideal for making the first changes on behalf of ecology (and it can even save you costs). According to surveys 50% of Croatians are discouraged when there is a lack of ecological delivery options.
The Croatian market can be a great start for your business. A lower number of e-shops creates a great opportunity to stand out. Contact us and we will help you achieve your expansion goals.