What do you have to do in 2016 to increase the online sales? Should you invest in mobile commerce apps? In omnichannel strategies and technologies? To pay more attention to customer needs and to build great communities? What online marketing channels could make the difference for an e-commerce business? A lot of questions specific for the beginning of every year, the good news is that the e-commerce is an amazing market to be in, with plenty of opportunities for growth. Therefore, we have interviewed several amazing and experienced e-commerce and online marketing experts from Central and Eastern Europe in order to have a better perspective for the growth directions in e-commerce for 2016.

The European e-commerce sector is being watched by most of the business players worldwide. Even though the growth rate of the e-commerce turnover slowly decreased, the share of e-commerce within the European Gross Domestic Product continues to grow. If in 2009 this rate amounted to 1.27%, it nearly doubled to 2.45% in 2014 and is expected to reach around 6% in 2020.

There are many more promising figures, but also some recurrent problems that slow down the e-commerce sales growth. How to deal with them in 2016? And how can you help your brand stay competitive?
We invited several experts from e-commerce and online marketing from Central and Eastern Europe to share with us their recommendations for 2016, bringing not only their experience but their valuable insights about the local markets like Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Bulgaria or Croatia.
Let’s see how can you sell more and better with mobile, data analysis and personalization, affiliate marketing, Facebook, content marketing, omnichannel strategies and more.


Krzysztof Bajołek answear
Wearco sp. z o.o. is the company operating Answear.com, the largest multi brand online clothing store in Poland.



It is difficult for me to indicate only 2-3 recommendations because I know from my experience that success usually consists in more factors… But I will try:

  1. Adequate pricing policy. Because CEE markets are still sensitive to price, especially in online sales.
  2. Content that engages users and makes them want to come back – because the rest of the marketing is too expensive.
  3. Data collection and personalization – everyone talks about it, but we need to start to do it seriously.

Paweł Szczepaniec
Pawel is an experienced Internet Marketing Manager with over 9 years in e-marketing, e-commerce and social media.

  1. Mobile: development of mobile as an advertising channel, but not everyone will win here. One has to remember that mobile is a personal sphere(!) and all forms of intrusive ad forms mean a loss of trust from users – applies to advertisers, but also to content publishers.
  2. Consistent analytics: mobile domination motivates us to accelerate work on measuring multiple channels in a consistent way – per user and – in a more refined form – in line with Customer Journey. Long road ahead of us…
  3. Communities & Content Hubs: many brands aim for independence from typical social media channels – they want to create their own communities and/or channels and learn to work with them. An interesting trend, IMO easy to connect to the Communities, is Content Hubs. Being able to consolidate and use the best content in your niche is just winning the race.
  4. Real-Time Marketing: as an excellent, attractive and cost-effective method of building your brand and reach out to potential customers.


dragos stanca
Dragos is one of the main opinion leaders in media and digital from the Romanian market, he is currently managing ThinkDigital Romania and is the founder of ICEEfest, top festival on interactive and e-business in Central and Eastern Europe.

  1. A coherent strategy for its own data.
    Facebook and Google offer simple and quick solutions to generate conversions, but a mature e-commerce business will have to be aware that the data it delivers to the global giants with every campaign they perform contributes over time in strengthen them and increase dependence on their platforms. We can see more and more local solutions of programmatic advertising using data that every e-commerce business owns and they can use them only in their own interest. I think that the players from the region should think carefully about this in the near future.
  2. The Context is important.
    Therefore, I advise the e-commerce players to analyze in their future campaigns also the context in which a certain campaign displays, not only the price and other criteria strictly quantitative.
  3. Mobile.
    No need to say more. It’s clear that in 2015 the dominance of mobile platforms ( with Facebook and Google playing a substantial role) became more evident. I dare to say that within 5 years the online e-commerce from emerging and mature markets will migrate almost entirely on mobile devices. So we have to be ready.
  4. Native content and branded content, not only ads. The ad blockers expansion will force the industry growth to be more creative and consumer friendly. Don’t use more and more intrusive formats, use your imagination, use storytelling and branded content etc. Use everything in native formats integrated into the consumer experience.

Andrei Radu
With more than 10 years of experience in e-commerce, Andrei is the founder of the Romanian eCommerce Awards Gala – the most important eCommerce event in Romania, with the biggest and most active national online shops community.


  1. The most prominent trend for this year is the mobile commerce, a must for all the players from this industry. In order to remain competitive, all the online shops should have at least a mobile friendly site and to prepare a mobile commerce application.
  2. The online sellers should pay more attention to the quality of their services and to their communication with the customers. I advise them to work on the interaction with their audience on social networks, to be active, real, to have an excellent customer support. The price seems that is not anymore the NO. 1 factor in the acquisition process, all the players should think to more creative campaigns for their customers, to listen to them and to interact more.
  3. Work on your omnichannel shopping strategy. Work on integration of online, mobile and offline activities, from a unified communication strategy to the selling process and different technologies, to improve the shopping experience.


Ivo Iliev
Ivo is leading Interactage Group, a Bulgarian digital marketing agency that offers complete marketing and advertising solutions and tools for online (for clients like Nivea, RaiffeisenBank, Eucerin, Clinique, Nokia, Prestigio, Magniflex etc.)


    1. E-commerce was one of the most discussed topics of Bulgarian business area during the past year. In our work with companies from CES, we found that more serious budgets are spent on Pay Per Conversion Ads through Facebook and Google. Ads where the payment is done after a direct sale will be a focus during 2016 because through them, companies can achieve secure gains in their income, justifying their spending on digital marketing.


    1. Due to increasing competition in some market segments, in 2016, we predict even more digital campaigns from e- traders in order to achieve brand awareness. More and more traders embrace the online reputation management tactics and invest more money in this direction. In a competitive market, it is quite normal and justified. That is why in the new year we expect to see many creative campaigns with many “viral” approach to attract and gain customers’ attention.


  1. SaaS e-commerce platforms have become very popular in Bulgaria in 2015, which will surely be very trendy in the new year. These platforms enable traders to immediately get their online store with marketing software and support. But companies offering SaaS solutions meet a big problem. The majority of small business in Bulgaria is still a part of the “gray” economy and uses the sites for Small Offers to sell their goods. It is also a practice to sell through fan pages on Facebook. SAAS platforms require the business to “come to light”, which is not profitable for him. Meanwhile Bulgarian SAAS platforms have packages worth more than 600 EUR a year, and adaptations of open source e-commerce solutions are offered even cheaper.

Czech Republic

Michaela Náplavová
Sova Net company deals with the outsourcing of many international Internet projects.


    1. Facebook – To get to a potential client as close as possible.
      Outside of the big boom in mobile advertising and an overall trend of creating responsive websites, Czech sites are still trying to get the most out of Facebook ads, including remarketing strategies using Facebook pixel. I do not wish to estimate the number of companies that already use Business Manager for sharing FB Ad accounts. I’m a little more optimistic in the use of the Power Editor by Czech companies. In 2015, we started to use the formats of video FB ads and the year 2016 will show if these formats will be the right direction to exploit the potential of Facebook.

      I´ll mention the new format of AdWords – conversion from a call – our experience is that client doesn´t want to provide a „wrong” phone number for a new client, which has no long usability. Sklik will come very soon with the same format and we are very curious if it will come out with a more sophisticated version.


    1. LinkedIn – To determine the trend in the industry and generate specific website traffic.
      Professional network LinkedIn is used mostly for arranging meetings and networking.
      Through workshops and several case studies, more and more companies trying PPC advertising on LinkedIn. We see ads from IT companies, training organizations, private schools, and event agencies. Generally, there is not as much information as about other PPC tools, but we can say that under 10 000 CZK/month campaign does not make sense because of the CPC and average conversion rate.
      As a digital agency, we use the PULSE function for articles, which enables to link key information with our website.


  1. Website Value – Companies are willing to invest on A KPI´s report
    At the end, I come to the point of the situation on the Czech market in terms of the website value. Companies see a high potential in monitoring the financial value and the strategic management of investments.
    Firms are investing in solutions that automatically provide a few basic numbers that show a return on investment from online marketing.
    Companies are looking for automatization of digital marketing in terms of SEO, PPC, social media and online communication with potential clients.

Michal Pařízek
Michal is a proactive conversion rate optimization expert with 6+ years experiences across various industries.


  1. Custom Audiences.
    People spend a significant portion of online time in social networks and various apps (both on mobile and desktop). Customer Audiences allow you to reach your customers at those touch points and get their attention. The recent numbers suggest we search less on Google and spend more time in apps. Therefore, I believe this channel will become more important in 2016.
  2. Food delivery online.
    In my opinion, the online food delivery will become one the verticals which will grow the most in 2016 in Central and Eastern Europe. The market is mature enough finally. People have more trust in e-commerce and groceries is a too hot market segment to not being overlooked anymore. 2 years ago the main “battleground” was Germany and Western Europe and I think this year online food delivery will hit strongly in the rest of Europe as well.
  3. CRO tools get stronger and cheaper.
    Conversion Rate Optimization has become more popular over the years and there is a lot of competition among CRO tools nowadays. That’s a great plus for us = CRO experts and consultants. Services like HotJar or TruConversion disrupted the market when they introduced all-in-one products for few bucks. The tools will become more affordable in 2016. Nevertheless, we should not forget that the most important asset in CRO is the people using the tools, not the tools itself.


Marcel Majsan Dino Oreski
Marcel and Dino are both passioned of e-commerce and now are developing eCommerce Hrvatska, an association started with the goal of helping web shop managers and promoting quality online stores, e-commerce developers, marketing agencies, events.


    1. Number one marketing effort sellers need to put more focus on in 2016 are e-mail campaigns. They need to start doing better e-mail and online marketing segmentations because they are annoying people and losing their interest. Marketing guys should make campaigns with a more personal approach. Sign your emails with a personal name, sell less and educate more, make more surveys, ask people what’s bothering them… It’s unbelievable what web shop & marketing managers can learn from people who visit their shop but don’t buy anything. Also, make use of email automation campaigns – it will generate revenue for you on the long run with no extra effort.


    1. Second, I expect big changes in omnichannel shopping approach. It’s not news that many people like to read reviews & compare prices online before going to store or buying only. But today they are even using their mobile phones to compare prices and search additional info– even when inside of brick&mortar shops! Sellers should really work more on the integration of their online & offline activities and make it easier for customers to find the info they are looking for, on websites and in their brick&mortar shops as well.

As you can notice, those two trends don’t cost much to start but not many people are doing it. You know which free sales/marketing method is also not used nearly enough? Affiliate marketing. I tried to find people who are doing it in Croatia, but most of them are selling to foreign markets (The USA mainly). We should really work on that in 2016!
Oh, and some say customization will also become a big trend, but that’s been talked about for a while, yet I still don’t see many web shops are doing it. Maybe it’s time somebody breaks the ice?


  • Biggest problems for shoppers:
    According to recent Gemius study, the biggest obstacle for online buyers in Croatia is big shipping costs. Also, many people are afraid to pay with credit card or to order online in general, which makes people pay more with cash.
    Those two facts are the main reason I believe this 3 things would increase e-commerce revenue for retailers in 2016:

    a. lower delivery costs or free shipping offer.

    b. option to pay with credit cards when goods are delivered (agentcash.hr could be a hit) or “buy now, pay later” option (like futurepay.com).

    c. SMS payments – according to Gemius study, many people would like to pay with SMS but not many sellers are offering this option.
    Big steps must be made regarding more efficient (live) tracking of packages and same day delivery options.




  • Biggest mistake of our web sellers:
    I know that mobile is last year news, but many big shots in Croatia still don’t have responsive websites. So I predict many of them will soon realize they have to become more focused on mobile visitors. That means also adjusting their marketing campaings for mobile and targeting them with different ads or even on different platforms.


Affiliate Marketing

Marius Motohon
Marius has more than 7 years of experience in managing digital goods programs, a powerful background in sales and online marketing with extensive knowledge in areas such as Affiliate Management and Online Marketing. He brings us the specialist’view about affiliate marketing in 2016.


    1. Mobile.
      Since 2009, every January we keep saying that THIS is going to be the year of Mobile. I’m not sure we’re there yet, even though the Mobile Internet Usage did surpass the Desktop Web Browsing quite some time ago. We’re all witnessing this inevitable schism in online shopping, it’s just that no one can say for sure when it’s going to happen.
      What we can be certain of is that affiliate marketers need to keep developing mobile friendly websites, and advertisers need to keep creating offers for the mobile market.


    1. Multi-Touch Attribution.
      One of the other big things we keep talking about, for years now, is Multi-Touch Attribution. This helps better-allocating credit to all those who preceded the conversion, whether it’s between channels, campaigns, affiliates or all of the above.
      Although it’s quite clear what we want, the technology still didn’t catch up with all the platforms. (…)
      Having said that, more and more platforms are implementing multi-touch attribution solutions, so be on the look-out for when your partners decide to start using it!


    1. Content is King!
      Now that we talked about splitting commissions between different affiliates or even channels, guess who’s getting the biggest chunk? It’s not coupon affiliates and it isn’t PPC affiliates either. Yes, I’m talking about content affiliates. Just like in fashion, trends in Affiliate Marketing become relevant again after some time.
      The reason behind it is that currently, worldwide, coupon websites tend to amount for 80-90% of all affiliate sales for any given vertical/niche. Coupons are a great tool for any market, but coupon sites are not destination sites. You don’t tend to open your browser and look at the coupons before you decide on what you want to buy. You usually check the coupon site when the product is already in your shopping cart.

      Advertisers are now looking for initiators in the sales funnel stages. Content affiliates are meant to fill this gap. They can write reviews, do unboxing videos, share sponsored raffles on their Social Media channels and so on. In return for engaging their customer, advertisers are very happy to offer higher commissions for content affiliates or split the commission in such a way that at least 50%-80% goes to the initiator.


  1. Synergistic channels.
    This is not a trend per se, but I’d like to leave you with a piece of advice I give to all of my clients and affiliate marketers alike:
    Think outside the box and experiment with channels you’ve never considered before!
    We have seen in recent years affiliate partnerships with NGO’s, where charities can sell custom products and retain commissions for their cause.
    I’ve helped companies in acquiring brand awareness and exposure via the Affiliate channel, by using nontraditional affiliates like Gaming / E-Sports Streamers or YouTube Unboxing personalities.
    Think where your product could be used, other than the traditional places and channels, and try to monetize it.
    In 2016 Nontraditional affiliate Marketing might be your golden goose!



We’ll see what strategies will bring the gold or the money, clearly is gonna be a remarkable year for the European online businesses and specialists. The competition is tight, the customers are more educated and more demanding and the CEE markets have great opportunities. Enjoy the ride!

Special thanks to all the topic experts from this article, it was a pleasure to talk to them. If you believe in other trends for this year, please share with us your arguments.

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