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47: Shopping Habits in Norway

A shopping centre in Norway

Life in Norway Show Episode 47: Paul Harrison from the Kelkoo Group joins the show to talk about shopping habits in Norway, from price sensitivity to mobile payments and more.

Welcome to the latest episode of the Life in Norway Show, a podcast all about living in, working in, and visiting Norway. In this episode, I'm doing a deep dive into the world of shopping with fellow Brit Paul Harrison.

Paul lives in Oslo where he works for the Kelkoo group. We talk about how shopping habits differ between Norway and other countries, the supermarket experience in Norway, the state of online shopping in Norway, and a look at how our money and payments are rapidly moving online.

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Oslo's Aker Brygge shopping mall at night
Shopping at Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway.

Here are some highlights from Paul's interview:

Introducing the Kelkoo group

Paul introduces Kelkoo, which is best known for its price comparison and e-commerce advertising services in Norway and many other countries:

 

“Kelkoo is one of the real original ‘dot com' companies, established in 1999. And ever since then, we've had a presence here in Norway, which is quite unusual, actually. We've always had this connection with Norway and being based in Oslo.”

“We have these great relationships with local retailers and shops. What we're able to do for them is send them people to their web shops, give them access to new audiences, new shoppers, and help them to convert those visitors into shoppers.”

Towards a “cashless Norway”

There are some very clear differences between shopping in Norway (and Scandinavia) and some other countries. One of the biggest is the use of cash, or lack of. Even on market stalls you can pay with Vipps, Norway's leading online payment system.

The recent change to Norway's banknotes is set to be the last. Paul says that Norway is in effect already a cashless society:

“The last time I used cash was about a month ago. I think we are way ahead of a lot of countries in terms of going cashless because Norwegians trust institutions and adopt new technology very quickly. Vipps is a good example of that for paying with your mobile phone, but it's also been widely adopted for person-to-person payments.”

Market stalls in Bergen, Norway

Supermarket shopping in Norway

Paul points out that the dominance of several big players in essentially controls the choice and price levels in Norwegian supermarkets. He highlights some challengers, some of which have succeeded and some have not.

“More recently we've seen Iceland coming from the UK to offer different products and lower prices. I'm following them closely and they are having some success. They've got distribution now across every Circle K gas station in the country.”

Paul also mentions the online grocer kolonial.no that is seeing a lot of growth: “That sort of innovation is really exciting for me to see. I hope that they're successful, because again, they're offering choice, convenience, groceries delivered to your door. And I think that's really taking the challenge to the the big groups.”

Online shopping habits in Norway

Paul says he personally shops online almost exclusively using his mobile phone: “We've got such great connectivity speeds here, and that trust and ease of payments.Being able to click on something and not even enter your credit card details, just having the e-invoice sent to you later, is very, very convenient. So I value that.”

We also talk about some of the challenges in shopping on foreign online stores because of recent changes to the rules on VAT and import duty relating to imports. However, Paul points out the government has delayed removing the NOK 350 exemption, meaning that low-value purchases remain exempt for the time being.

We also chat briefly about the launch of Amazon in Sweden, and what that might mean for the future of e-commerce in Scandinavia.

Links from the show

Some of the things we spoke about during the interview:

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Shopping Habits in Norway with Paul Harisson

Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

1 Comment

  1. Amazon has brought convenience to the United States but it has also negatively impacted our cities and towns. I live in San Francisco and there is little point going downtown anymore as many of the shops closed up because they couldn’t compete. Even our local neighborhood shops have been hit. Retail is pretty much just nail salons now. Our 3 block strip used to have two thriving pharmacies, several clothing stores, a stationary store, 2 toy stores, all gone. One pharmacy is left and it’s barely surviving and this was before Covid. A few local bookstores in sf have survived but they struggle. I hope the Norwegian government can subsidize small businesses if Amazon does arrive.

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