E-commerce has pinned much hope on Russia, a country with a population of 144 million and with Russians sufficiently growing income. Russian consumers are famous for their spending sprees and inexhaustible love for shopping, stimulating online stores placing their bets on making high profits in a short time. However, the 2014 economic crisis has tremendously changed purchasing power of Russian consumers and made its drastic adjustments in Russian online shopping trends. As a result, an increasing number of online retailers are suspending their business.
Decline in population incomes by 53% in 2015, decrease in consumption nearly by 10% and growing prices reflect the realities of the Russian economy today and interestingly, have a peculiar effect on purchases made online by Russians . On one hand, the growth of sales has slowed down due to weakening ruble and decreasing oil prices. On the other hand, the growth in price on the local market has been so significant that Russians are ready to modify their purchasing habits.
|GDP per capita (USD)||13.192||14.289||15.340||15.390||8.181|
|Economic Growth (GDP, annual variation in %)||4.3||3.5||1.3||0.7||-3.7|
|Consumption (annual variation in %)||6.8||7.4||4.4||1.5||-9.6|
|Inflation Rate (CPI, annual variation in %)||8.4||5.1||6.8||7.8||15.5|
Table 1. Russian economy data. Adopted from FocusEconomics. Russia Economics Outlook., http://www.focus-economics.com/countries/russia
Consumer behavior online. Around 43% of Russians would rather make a purchase in a conventional store than online (Nielsen) . There is an evident sense of mistrust and desire to see the item before paying for it. Moreover, shopping is also associated with leisure and Russian offline stores have succeeded in improving design of sales points and offering better customer service. Customers enjoy visiting local coffee shops after shopping and think of shopping as fun and exciting pastime.
Russian e-commerce is still in its early development stage, though showing annual rapid growth (Figure 1). However, despite significant growth, economic crisis has slowed down growing indicators .
Figure 1. Growth of e-commerce in Russia, %. Adopted from Data Insight. http://www.datainsight.ru/ecommerce2014
The other factor affecting e-commerce growth is costly and inefficient logistics.
Online shopper’s profile. In 2014, 34% of Russian online users aged 18-64 or 25 million of people purchased something online. On average, Russian online shopper makes 7.7 purchases annually. Among online users, 29% of females and 23% of males shop online. Females make purchases more frequently and place more orders, though in 2014 their average order value was lower than of the males 2 400 rubles against 4 000 rubles accordingly. It comes as no surprise that young people are more active online buyers. They adopt innovation more naturally and are eager to try new ways of buying products. Statistics suggest that 43% of online users, who subsequently purchased products online were young people aged 18-24. However, people aged 35-44 order about 8.7 times a year with an average order value sum of 3 500 rubles, which is slightly more than any other age group. Individuals aged 25-34 comprise the largest online-buyers group, whose share is nearly 31% as far as a number of orders, quantity of buyers and amount of money spent are concerned. The underlying reasons for this are baby boom, which occurred during those years and a high level of internet penetration into this segment group.
The second largest group of buyers is aged 35-44 with a total of 22% with slightly larger order value and more frequent purchases .
Figure 2. Average order value by age group. Data Insight. E-commerce in Russia 2014. Annual Report. Adopted from: http://www.slideshare.net/Data_Insight/2014-48651812
Individuals with larger incomes more than 75 000 rubles make around 10.7 purchases a year with an average bill of 5 100 rubles. However, the largest number of orders is made by the segment group with monthly incomes of 30 000-50 000 rubles.
What do Russian consumers buy online? Russian online shoppers are generally young, educated and have higher incomes than other Russian citizens. Most popular goods and services purchased online are electronics, clothes, children’s clothes, digital goods, tickets, books and restaurant food delivery. Ordering flowers online has become a new trend and a very profitable business.
TOP-5 products purchased online in 2014 in Russia:
- Clothes (26.6%)
- Electronic devices (26.4%)
- Children’s products (9.9%)
- Beauty products (7.5%)
- Books (6.5%)
Most purchases are made on a personal computer (60%), laptop (46%) or tablet (11.1%). However, the number of purchases made using a smartphone is growing and comprised 11.3% in 2014 (Data Insight, 2014). Besides, a vast majority of online customers (around 40%) would both browse and purchase goods using a personal computer, whereas 35% of respondents would browse the product via smartphone and order it using laptop/personal computer. Only 1% of all orders are made through mobile applications. Although, around 70% of interviewed Russians reported having mobile applications on their smartphones or tablets and 15% of customers have downloaded applications on their own. Mobile applications for food delivery services are installed by every 9th user, which is a remarkably high indicator for such a young market. These all show that mobile applications usage is very promising.
Russian online stores vs. western online stores. Interestingly, Russians listed books and clothes among the first goods they purchased online. Foreign online stores are still preferred by Russian shoppers to the local Russian online stores due to a number of reasons. Among them are a wider range of goods, lower delivery costs and affordable pricing. Russian online customers value high quality brands at a reasonable price, which may originate directly from the manufacturer or from an official distributor. Although, Russians will not miss a chance to buy low-priced goods from a Chinese manufacturer rather than paying through the nose for the identical imported goods in a Russian offline shop. Russian brands, unfortunately, do not always offer good value for money. Attractive marketing and customer support at each stage of a purchase enable foreign online stores with a competitive advantage.
TOP-5 online clothing stores represented by Western brands:
However, online shopping ‘abroad’ has its own stumbling blocks. Delivery may take a few months and maybe even risky. If the order is delivered using the services of the Russian Post there may be certain inconveniences for the customer e.g. speed of order handling, risk of parcel loss or even theft, risk that the parcel is sent back to the sender if a recipient is not at home, additional costs incurred for storage, constantly growing costs for postal services in Russia .
The most popular e-commerce websites are represented by leading Ulmart.ru, Wildberries.ru, Citilink.ru, Mvideo.ru, Exist.ru .
TOP-10 e-commerce websites in 2014:
|E-store||Turnover, 1000 rubles||Number of orders||Average order value, rubies|
|Ulmart.ru||36 800||7 360||5 000|
|Wildberries.ru||32 000||17 000||1 900|
|Citilink.ru||24 800||2 840||8 700|
|Mvideo.ru||20 400||1 570||13 000|
|Exist.ru||17 300||6 650||2 600|
|Eldorado.ru||16 900||2 090||8 100|
|Svyaznoy.ru||16 700||1 720||9 700|
|Kupivip.ru||16 600||1 770||9 400|
|Ozon.ru||15 200||5 180||2 900|
|Komus.ru||12 900||1 250||10 300|
Table 2. ТОП-100 интернет-магазинов России 2016 года. Data Insight and Ruward Rating. Adopted from: http://www.shopolog.ru/news/top-100-internet-magazinov-rossii-2016-goda/
Among e-commerce platforms there are services free-of-charge and with a definite fee. One of the most popular store-building platforms are Insales, Webassist, Advantshop and Ecwid . A great number of retail shops are shifting sales online. One of the largest platforms are (Sergei Grinkevich, Laboratoriya electronnoi komertsii) :
IBM WebSphere Commerce
- Key providers are Croc and Luxoft
- Implementation example is a website of S7 airlines
Oracle (ATG) Commerce
- Key providers are EPAM Systems
- Implementation examples are Letual online store, Ostin online store, Mvideo (to be implemented)
- Hybris works with the following partners in Russia – Accenture, Epam, iRt, TeamMedia, Arvato and Novardis
- Implementation examples is Ozon.
Trust in social media growing. Russian online shoppers are using social media widely e.g. Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and less frequently Facebook. A staggering amount of small businesses would rather create a social media webpage promoting their services than launching a website or online store. So, s-commerce is taking its market niche very actively. An example may be a local hairdresser’s with a Vkontakte social webpage placing photos of their services ‘before and after’ and providing information about discounts, free available hours and even registering clients online. Businesses are spreading information online with their friends, families inviting new potential clients. A great number of clients prefer reading feedback about services or products. A well-developed social media page ‘Otzovik’ provides useful information almost on any service or item. The reliability of this website is quite high, as its owners require detailed information from each single individual, who is willing to leave a comment in return for a small reward.
Vlogging is another trendy activity among younger Russians. These individuals share their life experiences, shopping tips and products reviews. Developing a personal relationship with subscribers grow trust in a vlogger’s review and thousands of online stores are already collaborating with vloggers very actively by sending them free products for a review in their video. Moreover, not only vloggers post products’ reviews but also share ideas about online shopping, coupons and best deals.
What does e-commerce have in store for Russia?
Dynamics of Russian e-commerce development suggests that the future looks quite promising. By 2020 online retail market is projected to grow and amount to $ 62 billion .
The recent economic challenges have slowed down growth in e-commerce. However, the truth is that customers have already experienced the benefits of shopping online. Most online shoppers are located in Moscow and St Petersburg, where people are always in a rush and time is highly valued. More westernized lifestyle compared to the rest of Russia stimulates people borrow shopping trends neighboring Europe. This segment of Russian online customers is sophisticated and constantly searching for new ways to get good value for money. While local offline market is experiencing difficulties offering overpriced Chinese items, retail digitalization will continue and carve its market niche.
 Data Insight. <http://www.datainsight.ru/ecommerce2014>.
 Data Insight. E-commerce in Russia 2014. Annual Report. Adopted from: <http://www.slideshare.net/Data_Insight/2014-48651812>.
 FocusEconomics. Russia Economics Outlook. <http://www.focus-economics.com/countries/russia>.
 Nielsen: Продукты с доставкой на дом заказывает каждый четвертый потребитель в мире и каждый десятый в России. Adopted from: http://www.nielsen.com/ru/ru/press-room/2015/Nielsen-retail-format.html
 RBK Money. The History of E-Commerce, SWOT Analysis and Outlook for the Future. http://www.rbkmoney.com/en/news/history-e-commerce-swot-analysis-and-outlook-future
 ТОП-100 интернет-магазинов России 2016 года. Data Insight and Ruward Rating. Adopted from: http://www.shopolog.ru/news/top-100-internet-magazinov-rossii-2016-goda/
Сергей Гринкевич, 2013. Лаборатория электронной коммерции. Платформы электронной коммерции в России
This article was written by our guest blogger Veronika Cotroux, and edited by Joni Salminen from Konvertigo. Veronika Cotroux is a Market Intelligence and Bioresource Consultant, who is rethinking the way B2B market operates.