In her interview in the first issue of the Cross-Border Magazine, Paula’s Choice EMEA CEO Janine Tillema emphasizes how much her company’s success in a market like Romania means to her. She also stresses the importance to adapt a webshop’s services to local habits, such as the fact that many clients want the delivery boy to wait until they have opened the parcel and checked the content. We have contacted Romania-Expert Raluca Radu, E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Consultant & Co-Organiser GPeC, and asked her to tellus a bit more about the Romanian e-commerce market.
Raluca has been working for more than 11 years in online business and e-commerce in Romania and on the Central and Eastern European market. She is the Co-Organiser of the most important e-commerce event in CEE, GPeC, which is gathering the top e-commerce players on the market and is offering an overview of the whole market. On top of that, she is the Country Manager for Romania of answear, a renowned Polish online fashion brand. Her previous experience includes launching the OLX brand on the Romanian market and growing it to number 1 in online classifieds as Country Manager for Naspers in Romania. She has also been involved and acting as an e-commerce and digital marketing consultant for top brands in Romania and Eastern Europe.
1- What makes the Romanian e-commerce market interesting for international companies?
Romanian e-commerce is especially interesting as it is providing a unique mix of being at the beginning and at the same time growing rapidly. The online sales market in Romania is young, it is not developed yet, there are few major players and there are definitely few of the international top players present at the moment. However, the last 2 years saw a rapid growth of the market, with Romanian e-commerce now exceeding 1.4 billion EUR and still growing more than 50% YoY. The most developed vertical is IT&C, but also fashion and home deco categories are growing at a fast pace. There are also, of course, categories and subcategories which are undeveloped and this means there is room for opportunities. I think now is definitely high time for international companies to enter Romania and be here when e-commerce really takes off. Romania has a very developed IT infrastructure. Believe it or not, according to international surveys, we ran number 1 in Europe as far as our internet broadband speed goes - 55.54 Mbps. We have a great IT workforce and we are one of the top IT outsourcing destinations in Europe. This means that the country itself is also an early adopter in terms of technology and e-commerce will probably be the new standard as far as shopping goes. Therefore, I would focus on being here today and growing together with the market, rather than wait for 2 more years and fight with other top players.
2- Are there any special challenges when starting to sell in Romania?
One of the biggest challenges and also market particularities of Romania is the fact that over 95% of the orders are paid cash on delivery. Romanian people are not used to paying online by card and this is a challenge because courier companies have to provide the movement of the cash for the online shop as well. The upside of this, however, is that the Romanian market trusts international brands far more than local brands so there is a higher chance of having the Romanian customer pay online at an international online shop than at a local online shop. Moreover, the country’s infrastructure and the lack of highways is a challenge itself as it takes around 12 hours to go from one side of Romania to the other. This results in longer delivery times.
3- Can you name some international e-sellers that have successfully started selling in Romania?
Well, of course. First of all, Naspers. The top player active in the market is eMAG which is a local player but received an investment from Naspers. Also H&M, Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti), LPP (Reserved) and Bonprix all sell in Romania and are among the top market players. Above that, it is worth mentioning that Romanian customers are already used to buying a lot from abroad - Amazon, Asos, Net-a-porter outlet, Luisaviaroma etc. are preferred shopping destinations.
3- Describe the Romanian customer in a few sentences - what will convince them to buy from a foreign e-tailer?
Romanian customers are equally men and women, mainly 25-35 years old, they are very brand-oriented and look up to international players. They are also focused on discounts and looking for a mix of brands and discounts. I am sure that being an international player selling on the Romanian market is a big advantage as Romanian people are very open to global players.
4- Which brands are in your opinion an ideal match with the market?
Romanian people are focused both on discounts and on aspirational brands (that is international brands that they heard of and that make them perceive that quality is associated with that brand - e.g. Samsung, Apple, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, L'Oreal etc.). Therefore, players providing a mix of this 2 features are a perfect match for the market.
5- Are there any dominant trends at the moment?
Fashion is growing fast online at the moment in Romania. The same goes for home & deco. The customer is paying more and more attention to the cost of delivery, the time of delivery, the ease of returns and these 3 become increasingly important factors in a consumer’s buying decision.
6- What are your top-three tips for sellers that wish to expand to Romania?
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