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19 Feb, 2010 14:34

Online shopping takes hold in Russia

eBay has made news with its announcement it will be launching a Russian-language version of its online auction site, but the world of e-commerce is one that local companies are only just starting to master.

The days of the shopping mall, bookstore, and even supermarket may be coming to an end, as the world of online commerce clicks its way into the spending patterns of the consumer.

Worldwide, some 90% of Internet users have made a purchase online. In Russia – that figure stands at 83%, up 6% from 2007. Tatyana Sidorenko, Senior Research Executive at Nielsen, says online purchases are changing.

“Over the past 2 years we have noted a change in online users and in the baskets of people buying on the Internet. Books remain the top seller at more than 40%. But while in 2007 other top categories were electronics and home appliances, now we're seeing sales of clothes, shoes, and accessories pushing them aside. Demand for media content is also declining – with users finding other sources to obtain that material.”

Online auction site eBay plans to launch a Russian version of its site. This could see the number of lots listed in the country increase by 20 to 30%, according to experts.

Ebay says it’s looking for partners to handle payment collection in Russia ahead of the launch of its local language site. Many people in the country are wary of using bank and credit cards for online purchases, others don’t even have cards – so instead, pay the courier when the goods are delivered.

Payment is just one of the logistics problems affecting e-commerce in Russia. Utkonos has been on the market 10 years: An online shopping stop with its own central warehouse, over 100 pick-up points across Moscow, and a home delivery service. PR Director at Utkonos.ru, Sergey Bezzubtsev says demand is growing exponentially.

“Right now the problem we face is that our number of clients is growing at an extremely past pace. People realize it's convenient, cheaper – and we can hardly cope with the demand. Every day we see a new 1,000 clients. We've studied who uses the site – mothers, professionals, and we never thought this would be, but even foreigners in Russia. And for this reason we are planning to launch an English-language version of the site.”

The dynamics of online shopping are changing fast and logistics players need to keep up. What is popular today can soon become yesterday's fashion.