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30 Sep, 2014 16:07

Internet colossal eBay announces big plans for Russia

While Western nations continue to pile sanctions onto Russia, eBay the world's largest online marketplace is expanding in the country. On Tuesday, it opened up its platform to Russia’s biggest retailers, eBay’s first local overseas site in seven years.

Local Russian sellers like Wikimart and X5 Retail Group begins to sell products, ranging from electronics to women’s fashion, on eBay’s marketplace on Tuesday. To spur activity, sellers will have a zero percent fee during the first stage of development, as the company hopes to attract selling partners.

The move is part of the e-commerce company’s emerging markets strategy, which also includes Brazil, India, and China. Russia becomes the first country since Australia in 2007 where eBay has launched a dedicated site.

While Western nations continue to pile sanctions onto Russia, eBay sees value in the market.

“A year earlier when the eBay general director came here, he said that Russia is a top priority among the emerging markets, since then our plans in Russia haven’t changed,” Vladimir Dolgov, chief of eBay Russia, told RT.

Online shoppers increased 30 percent to 30 million in 2013. Though the figure is expected to plateau in the next couple years, it will still increase at 14 percent annually. Morgan Stanley has forecast volumes will triple by 2015 to $36 billion, up from $12 billion in 2012; the year eBay first entered the Russian market.

By the end of December 2013, eBay was receiving 90,000 orders per day, and had 1 million active users in Russia.
eBay’s biggest individual seller in Russia, online store Eforcity, believes the timing is perfect.

“eBay Russia reminds me of how we started on eBay in the US 14 years ago,” the company’s founder and CEO Jack Sheng, told RT.

This time last year, eBay’s partner PayPal began accepting the Russian ruble in transactions, making it the 26th currency it accepted.

Russia’s 146 million population could provide a plush market for eBay, however other concerns remain.

Economic growth isn’t expected to surpass 0.5 percent this year, and a weakening ruble and inflation may discourage would-be shoppers.

A softening in consumer spending won’t deter eBay, which Jones said will stand by its commitment when it first entered the market.

"Like everybody, we are working through some of the current changes," Vice President Wendy Jones told Reuters.