Russia - Country Commercial Guide
eCommerce

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2021-10-16

Assessment of Current Buyer Behavior in Market

The Russian e-Commerce market has been steadily growing and doubled in size for the past four years, according to the statistics from the yStats.com report, one of the world’s leading secondary market research companies. The largest product category of Russian e-Commerce sales in 2019 were electronics and appliances (38%), followed by clothing and footwear (31%). According to 2019 forecasts, retail e-Commerce sales of food and groceries were to outpace the rest of the market by 2022; however, the self-isolation scenario of the pandemic served as an additional boost for the rapid development of FMCG retail online shopping. Since the beginning of 2020, the rate of online orders of FMCG products increased by five times, which led to the changes of strategies and priorities for the leading FMCG retailers for 2020-2021.

According to the Association of Internet Trade Industries, Russian FMCG online retail shopping has a huge growth potential considering the large-scale investments of the leading food retailers, IT companies. and banks into this market segment.

The broader availability of 5G mobile internet will take customer experience in e-Commerce to a new level. Its speed, combined with low latency, will allow for all-new VR/AR applications that will significantly change the shopping experience. Instead of investing in retails space, innovative retailers will provide VR solutions that completely personalize the customer experience for shoppers.

The overall growth of the e-Commerce market in Russia is also conditioned by the relatively high level of internet penetration in Russia (94.4 million people use the internet in Russia), and the availability of affordable smartphones.

Cross-border e-Commerce used to be the top trend in Russia’s online retail market until 2018, comprising more than one-third of total e-Commerce sales, according to the yStats.com report.  This growth has been driven in large part by Chinese companies – most notably Alibaba’s B2C marketplace Aliexpress.ru – but key western players including Amazon, ASOS, Next and YOOX are also well represented.

As Russian online shoppers are price-sensitive and make more than 50% of their online purchases using product discounts and special offers, they became more selective in 2019 and 2020 when in 2019 due to the lobbying of the domestic retail companies the tax-free threshold for personal use products was lowered first to 1000 EUR, then to 500 EUR, and finally to 200 EUR for every single purchase. The customs fee for these purchases came up to 30 percent then was reduced to 15 percent. The overall share of products purchased through the cross-border e-Commerce channels decreased from 23% in 2018 to 16% in 2019 with a tendency to decrease further throughout 2020.

Now the Russian government is setting out a strategy to make e-Commerce, more popular among the Russian shoppers and has tasked the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Communications to develop the legislative framework and implement innovative logistical solutions to tackle this issue.

The following resources can be recommended as additional support and source of information:

• Association of Internet Trade Industries

• Russian Association of Electronic Communication

• National Association of Distant Trade

• The Ministry of Communication

• The Ministry of Industry and Trade

• Data Insight Analytical Agency

• J’son and Partners Management Consulting

Local eCommerce Sales Rules & Regulations

Entering the Russian e-Commerce market is possible through the leading Russian online shops (B2C) Lamoda (fashion), Ozon, and Wildberries, as well as the social network VK which now works with AliExpress. A new cross-border support platform was also established by Yandex, called “Bringly”, which assisted several Turkish companies to enter the Russian market (Hepsiburada, N11.com, and Ziylan Group).

The e-Commerce market in Russia is regulated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The main barrier to entering the Russian e-Commerce market is the legal requirements. E-merchants should pay attention to Russia’s personal data laws, which are distinct from the EU’s GDPR and may require substantial adjustments in data collection, processing, and storage. This legislation applies to any online retailer, even those operating from abroad without a physical or legal presence in Russia, should their online resources target users in Russia. The merchant’s PSP should also comply with personal data legislation.

The important issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) must also be addressed by e-merchants wanting to sell in Russia. IPR resources can be found at the following site:  https://www.stopfakes.gov/article?id=Russia-IPR-Resources

According to the Data Insight analytical agency, almost all Russian corporations report using electronic trading platforms for procurement purposes. As B2B online shopping becomes more prevalent in Russia, the industry has become more tightly regulated. Transactions made through B2B e-Commerce platforms are legally binding due to the large financial value of these purchases.  Procurement procedures, especially for state-run entities, face strict legal requirements.

Additionally, the merchant’s PSP should cover specific Russian payment means such as e-wallets, Yandex.Money, Web.Money and QIWI e-wallets as well as the MIR card. This will increase sales and boost smart partnerships with local payment companies.

Having a strong logistics partner and a combination of delivery channels (postal delivery, courier service, pick-up offices, etc.) is a common practice for successful foreign e-retailers.

Local eCommerce Business Service Provider Ecosystem

The number of e-Commerce Services in Russia is growing exponentially.  Among the top services are e-Commerce aggregators and digital marketplace providers, diversified and customized delivery services, e-payment services and payment aggregators, digital marketing services, and a growing number of consulting and startup companies.

The most reliable and popular e-Commerce aggregators are:

• Joom

• Wildberries

• Beru (developed by Yandex and Sberbank)

• Aliexpress

• Price.ru belongs to Rambler Co Holding)

• Tmall

• Goods.ru

• Avito Magazin

Social networking is of growing importance to e-merchants. More than 90% of Russian Internet users access social networks.  The most active social media platforms are YouTube (85%), VKontakte (83%), WhatsApp (59%), and Instagram (51%)

The amount and frequency of searches for a product or service should be analyzed before launching a campaign in Russia. Complementing Google Trends, Yandex can support search-engine-optimization efforts:  wordstat.yandex.ru

The most prominent e-Commerce related events in Russia:

• Ecom Expo,  June 9 – 10, 2021 Moscow (2022 dates TBC)

• Russian Retail Week, May 31 – June 4, 2021, Moscow (2022 dates TBC)