as your next market for growth

We’ll help you to localise your digital marketing strategy for the Croatian market. Tell us about your export business goals and we’ll give you a hand in market sizing, digital marketing cost estimation, business plan validation and an action plan for achieving success in the Croatian market.

Let’s talk about my export goals

Grow your business in Croatia



Expand beyond borders and beyond your expectations. Capitalize on a fresh, unsaturated market where standing out won’t cost you a fortune!

Growing at twice the rate of Slovakia or the Czech Republic, Croatia sounds like a promising market. Other numbers make the case for this Adriatic gem even stronger: only a couple of thousands online stores –⁠ one of the smallest number of competitors to be found in CEE –⁠ make as high as 500 million EUR in revenue. Customer base is smaller, yes (over 2 million people), but with growing mobile penetration and trust in online shopping, one thing is solid: the demand for quality e-commerce experience already is, and will be rising. All while the cost to enter this southern market is relatively low. So why not show those Croats how it’s done? 

Country in a snapshot



A handful of online stores (figuratively speaking) are making a rising amount of money year on year. Did that FOMO hit you yet? If not, hear this: locals love to buy online –⁠ they’d buy more if their wallets allowed them (which seems to increasingly be the case). They want to be trendy, don’t mind foreign brands and are one of the fastest growing mobile penetration markets in the EU. They are also used to 5 day delivery (talk about raising a bar)! If you’re going to be joining the Adriatic market, know this: Croats are price-hunters, not yet used to balance price with other reasons to buy. So adjust your product portfolio to be able to compete, and then set new standards for the customer experience in their buying decisions. 


Makarska, or Dubrovnik: which vacation team are you on? Croatia is not just beautiful mountains, beaches and blue sea –⁠ although it’s worth noting that 1,185 islands were recently counted alongside its beautiful shores. Croatia was home to the world’s very first psychologist (humanist and poet Marko Marulić) and saw the invention of a tie (cravat). In fact, there is a national Cravat Day every October 18th with local chains offering colorful collections of neckties… wait, are we giving you tips on what will sell too early? 


Fair point! Let’s start at the beginning.

  Croatia’s potential for online business growth

2 800 000
Number of online shoppers
Online shoppers compared to population
Number of shops
E‑commerce revenue (2022)
E‑commerce growth
Biggest e‑commerce player


As an integral and constantly growing ecommerce part of the wider CEE economic area which is growing at 27% rate, Croatia itself is experiencing rapid growth: 26.88% or even 32% depending on evaluation methodologies, basically twice the number we are used to from Czech, Slovakian or Hungarian markets. It is only logical, as the regional e-commerce market is one of the smallest in Europe today: Eastern European shoppers spent 9 billion EUR online in 2019 (for comparison, Western Europe noted 444 billion EUR and Ireland itself 7.6 billion EUR). 


Reasons behind Croatia´s high growth:


  • expansion of online purchases in product categories that weren’t online a couple of years ago (groceries, but also insurance) 
  • higher frequency of online shopping 
  • growth in mobile penetration, forcing 9 out of 10 web stores to update to mobile-first websites (something barely 60% had a couple of years ago). 
  • price comparison sites are increasingly popular (55% Croats research product there before buying them). 


Croatian B2C e-commerce revenue was 618 million EUR in 2020 (estimate for 2021 is to grow even more and exceed 726 million EUR mark) with fashion being the strongest segment accounting for 42% revenue. Clothes, accessories and sportswear are followed by electro (23%), food and personal care making (13%), toys and hobby (12%) and home and decor (9%). During the Christmas season 2020, toys were increasingly searched. According to Heureka, parfums, sex toys and gardening appliances are high-growth e-commerce segments. 

In terms of industry leaders, the most popular is Croatian ecommerce marketplace with 23.75 million EUR in revenue in 2020. The second place then belongs to Zara with 21 million EUR, with 17.8 million EUR (these three make up for 10% of e-commerce revenue),  popular grocery store ranking number four with 14.4 million EUR and closing the top 5. In terms of niche businesses, you want to remember names such as, Emmezeta (home and decor) or Pink Panda (cosmetics). Croats, although nationalists, are also frequent cross-border buyers – in fact, shopping on marketplaces such as Amazon, Aliexpress, or eBay accounts for fifth of the e-commerce market, and shows growing trust towards brands from abroad.




Out of Croatia’s 4 million population, over 3.2 million were internet users in 2020 and over 2+ million online shoppers, making up for 60% user penetration, according to Eurostat. Statistically, an online shopper in Croatia is a frequent (monthly) one and interestingly, new online shoppers are growing the fastest per capita, compared to other EU countries. More than a half buy once a month (53%), 16% once a week and 3% daily. 


Up to 80% of users use mobile devices for online shopping in Croatia and mobile shopping is estimated to be the number one source of purchasing power in the next five years, as 97% of young people access the internet via smartphone. For online stores, this means focusing on mobile-first websites as well as creating their own apps. 


When it comes to customer behaviour, locals love to follow trends and innovations from fashion to phones. But the general population does not yet have the economic power to push e-commerce to reflect that (e.g. they want to look stylish but do not have the money). Price is the most significant purchasing determinant, making price comparison website popular tools amongst Croats. This does nevertheless go hand in hand with increasing confidence in online shopping and increasing sums spent online.  After years of economic recession, Croatia has finally recovered, and its citizens are ready to increase their household spending.


Where do Croats typically shop? Their support of local brands, culture and entrepreneurship –⁠ something Croats take pride in –⁠ shows in retail rather than in e-commerce. Online, 22% shop exclusively in domestic online stores (often, those who do are above 50 yo), 20% make 90% of their purchases abroad and 33% mix the two. Apart from above mentioned marketplaces, when shopping abroad, Croats chose Germany most often (followed by Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Hungary). 




How to get their attention:

Sales, deals

offering the best price

Certifications, trademarks

other proofs of trustworthiness (bridging the gray zones)

Free shipping

Store or warehouse pick-up

Being visible on price comparison websites

Fast delivery (2-3 days)

makes you stand out




Logistics. Local infrastructure has gotten a major boost in recent years: highways and tunnels connecting hubs such as Zagreb, Rijeka and Split, but also providing smooth transition to neighbouring countries (Slovenia, Serbia and others). When it comes to couriers, GLS is the most frequent choice of delivery among online stores. DPD and Overseas Express come next. When mapping out your logistics options, take into account different prices for inland and island delivery. When shipping from your home country, remember that Croatia is not (yet) Schengen. 


Legislation / administration. Croatia joined the EU as the 28th member in 2013, nearly a decade after it’s CEE neighbours, so all the EU laws, directions and standards around GDPR, general terms and conditions and consumer protection you are probably used to from your country of origin apply here. Exporting to this Adriatic country comes with quite a higher VAT: 25%. It is compulsory after hitting 270,000 HRK (35K EUR) in 12 months straight. There is a reduced 13% VAT on accommodation, food and newspapers. VAT at a rate of 5% is applicable to selected food, books and medical equipment.


Payment. Pre-pandemic, credit card payments were highest in popularity (39%), followed by cash on delivery (34%), PayPal (22%) and bank transfers (4%). Interesting compared to Czechia, where bank transfer is second favourite and PayPal is down low, right? Covid-19 nevertheless moved the tendency to opt for cards even higher: nowadays 91% believe cashless methods are the safest and 61% intend to use it more often.


Delivery. 61% opt for home delivery while 25% regularly pick up their orders in the store or warehouse and 13% at pick-up points. All in all, the best delivery is cheap delivery. Two thirds assume 20 HRK (2.64 EUR) is appropriate for packages under 2 kg whereas only 1% would buy if shipping cost was above 30 HRK (4 EUR). One in four Croats only buys items with free shipping. Customers are used to 5 day delivery, so anything faster serves to your advantage. It is expected that 2 day delivery will be demanded as a norm soon. 


Grey market, trust and trademarks. Due to large parts of Croatian e-commerce market lying in the grey zone (some stores are operating informally via social media or portals), stamps of quality and collecting reviews on price comparison sites are highly recommended best practices. 

Candid insights before we go on:



Croatia could be a great destination for creating new business activities because of its strategic location, EU membership and high amount of skilled workforce speaking multiple languages”. Also a great starting point to the non-EU neighbouring countries (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina). We expect a larger number of new small online retailers, which will have the opportunity to succeed with the small amount of investments,” Benedek Lakatoš, Account Manager at Growww Digital shares.



Deep dive into digital marketing

“We’ve localised the marketing strategy for over 100 projects. Tell us about your export business goals and we’ll give you a hand in market sizing, digital marketing cost estimation, business plan validation and an action plan for success. Our clients have grown on average by 84 % in the last 5 years.” 


László Szabó, Google Certified Trainer for Export in CEE.

Price Comparison Shopping Optimization



A price sensitive market calls for what? Exactly, price comparison engines. These platforms are already established and well-functioning in Croatia, allowing consumers to outsource their trust and safety on their good reputation. 

In our experience, they are the lowest hanging fruit to pick up and reap results: on platforms such as the largest (visited by 8 million monthly, it is part of Heureka Group and offers goods from 300 stores), (first site established in 2011 and historically the leader in electro), Romanian you can validate your competitiveness (price, products in stocks, speed of delivery being the factors that will make you stand out). More importantly, you can tip your toe into the market long before you even have a website, familiarize yourself with what works, and only then can you max out that website creation, tech and localization budget). Another plus? If you’re used to optimizing comparison engines from Czechia, Slovakia or even Hungary, chances are you’ll be ahead here. Well-known key players in search engine segments such as Glami in the fashion industry and FAVI specialized in furniture and design have started their journey in Croatia only recently but the country offers a great potential for increase in those business segments, too. 

PPC Advertising



Another set of tools ideal for validating the market while already seeing results are Google Ads and Facebook Ads campaigns (there is no Google Shopping in Croatia). “As a results-first focused agency with senior specialists native in 6 CEE languages, we’ve seen the power localised campaigns can bring to an exporting business, even if it’s a first-timer,” László shares Growww Digital’s core beliefs. 

One thing to know about PPC is that you want to take into account the mobility of Croatian population: every summer, locals move to the South (both for seasonal jobs and to spend coast time with their families), and then migrate back up for the winter. This is true not only for out-of-city inhabitants, even in inland hubs like Split or Zagreb the population decreases significantly over the summer. Conversely, winter time means moving to the north, or out of the country for seasonal jobs (Croats have a high affinity towards the DACH region, so Germany and Austria are often the case). Equipped with languages, Croats are a high-mobility nation.  






Having a localized version of your store, in HRK (kuna) and in Croatian will enable you to have your store indexed in Croatian search engines. Review your content and technical search engine optimization. We recommend having your technical (off-page) SEO centralized, meaning it is set in the same way across countries you export to. Make sure you localize off-site link building to Croatian pages. On-site wording and localization is crucial – we cannot emphasize this step enough.

Social Media & Brand Communication



There are over 3 million Croatians online, and 2.10 million use social media actively, according to Datareportal It means that over half of the Croatian population is present on social media all while 97% uses social media via mobile. Step one would be providing mobile-friendly content

Social presence would be second. Facebook in Croatia has estimated 1.9 million users, basically half the population. In comparison, Instagram has towards 800,000. Viber is the number one messaging tool, making Whatsapp or Messenger close to irrelevant here.

When it comes to ads’ reach – Facebook is definitely in the leader position in Croatia. Thanks to Facebook Ads, you can reach even 1.70 million users. With Instagram you can get to 1.20 million users and TikTok will allow you to reach 490 thousand people. An estimated 70% of Croatian companies advertise by email, while 80% of online retailers use Facebook as their advertising channel.

Conclusion and (your) next steps



Croatia offers you a continuously growing and developed economical background combined with excellent geographical location and infrastructure. Availability of a skilled workforce could guarantee investors to reach their business goals.  

You can get first market insight in this Facebook mastermind, a closed community of committed exporters, or get in touch with us if you need help with export. 


PS: If you know precisely what help you need in any area of digital marketing, talk to us directly and we will create a tailored offer that boosts your business results.