South Savo Region in Finland has fallen behind in international development of e-commerce. When 16% of European companies on average sold their products online in 2015, corresponding figure in Finland was 15% (Eurostat 9/2016). At the same time, figure for South Savo was 9,5%. (Digipuntari 2015/Eurostat/Vainu io).
Also internationalization in ecommerce is lagging behind; when buyers to Swedish online stores come from nearly 18 nationalities, Finnish online stores reach only 4 nationalities. Difference is therefore over 4-fold.
Year 2015 was challenging for traditional trade in South Savo. Growth of e-commerce drives traditional stores out of business and requires substantial reforming from traditional stores. Year 2015 Finnish buyers used nearly 1930 euros for e-commerce purchases. However, most significant factor seems to be the growth of e-commerce: the number of ecommerce packages increased almost 30% during October-December 2015. Growth trend is Europe-wide.
One driver of change is also the change in consumer behavior: according to recent statistics 79% of Finnish buyers do not differentiate between Finnish and international online stores. Product qualities, price and ease of buying have surpassed domesticity as a criteria for buying a product online. Drivers of change are visible, but so far international e-commerce operators have been able to respond to change faster than their Finnish counterparts.
This project aims to develop the ability of South Savo based companies to react to change in e-commerce by developing a training programme. The goal of the programme is to coach companies to start e-commerce and increase their geographical sales area beyond Finnish borders.
Programme is planned and executed in Mikkeli, South Savo. By the end of year 2018, the programme has been held four times. 32 companies and 10 experts have been trained to be e-commerce professionals and attending companies have started or expanded their e-commerce business.
Furthermore, this project is to encourage businesses to start international e-commerce or double their existing level of export, if they are already engaging e-commerce locally. By the end of the project, companies attending the programme have increased their turnover by 2,3 MEUR.
In addition, companies engaging now in local e-commerce have doubled their turnover from international sales. By the end of the project, staff of 32 companies and 10 experts have been trained to be professionals in the field of commerce.