The Croatian e-commerce sector experienced a veritable boom in 2020, the year the pandemic hit. It apparently took a pandemic to jumpstart the e-commerce industry there, and in this article, we will look at some of the reasons for that. In addition, we will look more closely at the facts and figures that define Croatian e-commerce. It is a little-known, underserved market that is well worth exploring.

Figures and Facts

Croatia is situated in the northwest of the Balkan Peninsula. To the west, the country borders the Adriatic Sea, to the north Slovenia and Hungary, to the east Serbia, and to the southeast Bosnia and Herzegovina. The capital, Zagreb, with approximately 800,000 inhabitants, is the political, cultural, and economic center of the country. Croatia has a population of around 3.8 million and a population density of 72 per km2. With its 56,594 km² area, Croatia is somewhat smaller than Ireland and somewhat larger than Denmark.

In terms of the Human Development Index (HDI), Croatia ranks 40th globally in human development, with a value of 0.858. For comparison, Germany scores 0.942 and Austria scores 0.916. Similar HDI values to Croatia can be found in Slovakia (0.848) and Hungary (0.846), for example. Croatia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stands at around US$70.5 billion, with a per capita GDP of approximately US$18,400 (for comparison, the German per capita GDP was US$52,824 in 2023).

Croatia is a member of the European Union and the World Trade Organization. Since 2023, it has also been part of the Schengen Area and the Eurozone. Consequently, the Euro has replaced the Kuna in Croatia. The exchange rate is approximately 7.5 Kuna per Euro.

Internet Usage in Croatia

Since Croatia joined the EU in 2013, the Croatian e-commerce market has experienced significant growth, which is undoubtedly tied to increased internet access in the country. According to Statista, the number of households with internet access increased from 50% to over 85% between 2009 and 2022. As is the global trend, younger users between the ages of 16 and 34 are particularly active online.

Broadband access tends to be more expensive in Croatia than elsewhere in Europe, and it is not universally available. To combat this issue, the Croatian government implemented the National Plan for Broadband Development in 2021, which should improve broadband coverage and speed throughout the country by 2027.

More and more people in Croatia are using social media, with the number of users rising steadily in the past few years. Statista predicts that 3.64 million people will use social media by 2029. This means that social media advertising will become increasingly interesting for e-commerce merchants.

Consumer Behavior and Payment Methods for Croatian E-Commerce

We see significant untapped potential in the Croatian e-commerce sector. In 2023, a Statista survey showed that nearly half of the population had purchased something online in the past three months. However, 82% of consumers report having some objection to shopping online, one of which was the slow internet in many areas.

Slow internet is not the only reason Croatian consumers prefer to shop offline. They are more likely than the EU average to prefer shopping in person (29%), and many mention that they prefer to see the product in person or feel loyal to certain stores. However, as online shopping gains in popularity, we may see these preferences begin to change. After all, most Croatians have simply not had the exposure to e-commerce that many other Europeans have had.

Croatians are also more concerned about high shipping costs, long delivery times, and payment security than the EU average. Correspondingly, they listed free delivery and returns and the availability of cash on delivery as key decision–making criteria. These would be good points for e-commerce merchants to take into account when attempting to break into the Croatian market.

Despite these concerns, 26% of Croatian e-commerce shoppers spent between US$500 and $US1000 on e-commerce purchases in 2023. Unsurprisingly, the younger generation is more likely to shop online: nearly 70% of survey respondents between 18 and 35 reported shopping online, while only 10% of 51 to 65-year-olds shop online.

When it comes to payment methods, Croatians prefer credit cards for online transactions. And while 37% use digital wallets such as PayPal, an exceptionally high number opt for cash on delivery (46%). Cash on delivery is decreasing in popularity in most European countries, but still going strong in Croatia. This may be linked to concerns about payment security, or simply concerns about the reliability of e-commerce sellers.


The official language of Croatia is Croatian. Until the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatian, along with Bosnian, Serbian, and Montenegrin, was part of a common language known in English as Serbo-Croatian. Speakers of these four Slavic languages understand each other with little effort, although there are differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. Unlike the other three languages, Croatian is exclusively written using the Latin alphabet, not Cyrillic.

Because of the high degree of mutual intelligibility, there is a great deal of contention around the question of whether the four languages are indeed separate languages or variants of the same language. However, for political and cultural reasons, they are treated as separate languages. This distinction is very important to the residents of Croatia and the neighboring countries. While the linguistic similarities would make it easier for you to localize your website into all four languages, it would be inadvisable to lump them all together.

Croatia has several different minority languages, many of which are officially recognized in certain regions. These include Serbian, Czech, Hungarian, Slovakian, and Italian. Serbian is an official minority language throughout the country, while Italian is the second official language in the Croatian part of the Istrian region. There are also small Hungarian-speaking enclaves along the border with Hungary.

More than 80% of Croatians speak a second language in addition to their mother tongue. For 60% of them, this language is English, with German and Italian being the next most popular foreign languages.

Import Regulations, Packaging Requirements, Origin Designation

As an EU member state, Croatia’s import regulations and customs laws are easy to navigate for other European countries. Since 2013, Croatia has been part of the EU internal market, meaning that there are no customs duties for goods exported from other EU countries to Croatia, and no customs declaration needs to be filed.

Due to the VAT One Stop Shop regulations that came into effect in 2021, the threshold for paying value-added tax (VAT) for cross-border e-commerce sales to private customers within the EU is 10,000€.

Croatia has, of course, adopted all EU legal provisions regarding labeling requirements and quality certificates for imported products. According to consumer protection law, product labels must contain all necessary information about the product in Croatian. This ensures that consumers can understand it easily.


The e-commerce sector holds significant potential in Croatia, especially for providers from the EU. Croatia’s EU membership and use of the Euro make cross-border e-commerce simple. Moreover, Croatia offers an audience of around 3.8 million potential customers, who are slowly but steadily becoming more digitally savvy. Although some Croatians still prefer shopping offline, we see an increasing trend towards e-commerce, particularly in the younger generation. This is crucial, as their purchasing power will only increase in the coming years. Furthermore, there were only around 5,000 online shops offered in the Croatian language as of 2020, meaning that the market is underserved and there is plenty of room for new players. Closing this gap could indeed be worthwhile.



autor_eurotext_100Author: Eurotext Editorial Team

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