7 reasons to target the Russian online market

LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The recent Online Retail Russia event in Moscow (16/17 April 2015) confirmed that, for UK retailers seeking cross-border trading opportunities, Russia presents an attractive option despite its economic and political troubles. For traders able to take a long-term strategic view, now may be an ideal time to enter the Russian market and make the most of Russians’ continuing love affair with British luxury and fashion goods, while competition is weak and costs are low.


IMRG’s chairman and founder James Roper is a regular participant at Online Retail Russia and was this year joined by David Williams, director of online, EMEA at


David said: "It’s clear that while there is still economic instability in the market, the eCommerce infrastructure and agencies, logistics and consumer interest is increasing, and if one is bold, there are opportunities to make inroads in the market during the current climate. It’s clear that Russians still love western brands and there is still an appetite for them, and eCommerce, if done well and locally, is an ideal way to drive sales in this fascinating and potentially huge market.”


A time of crisis


Russia is currently experiencing its third economic crisis in recent years. Russia’s trade turnover with the outside world plunged 30.1% year-on-year in the first two months of 2015 as oil price falls, currency devaluation and sanctions shook the Russian economy. Total imports plummeted $25.7bn, a fall of 37.6% compared to the same period last year, while exports plunged 23.8% to $57.6bn, according to data published by the Rosstat state statistics agency. Trade between Russia and the European Union fell by 34.3% to $38.2bn, with Britain among the hardest hit – its trade shrinking 51.9%.


Yet despite all this, here are seven reasons why the Russian online market may be an attractive option for UK retailers.


  1. It’s huge, and more accessible than you think


Russia is a large and rapidly growing eCommerce market – there are already more than 150,000 online shops in Russia, and 35,000 new stores are coming online each year.


Russia has a population of 143.5 million people and 73 million active internet users, half of whom currently buy online spending £13bn annually. Today only 3% of shopping is online, but this is forecast to at least triple by the end of 2020 with cross-border expected to reach 60% of the total volume of online sales. Russians all use one language – and are located right next to the EU border.


  1. Despite the problems, Russians continue to consume


Russians are still buying 2.5 million new cars every year, whereas the whole of Europe buys 12.5 million. They eat, shop for clothes, use make-up, decorate homes and buy smartphones to make calls and surf the web. Consumer habits and behaviors are changing – Russians compare prices, search for best offers and look for deals. They are learning to buy smarter – to be able to buy more – and they still love expensive brands.


  1. The online infrastructure is on a European level


Google (31% market share) and Yandex (60%) are the primary Russian search engines and both use similar search algorithms. They have PPC and CPA platforms, RTB and retargeting tools, local and global marketplaces and social media – all the tools you are used to in the UK.


  1. What is expensive for Russians, is cheap for Brits


Local Russian talent just got cheaper. Localisation, SEO, PPC management and web development services are available and are of the same quality you are used to, but at half the price. Costs are lower for you – but not for your Russian competitors.


  1. We’re all in the same boat


Local Russian manufacturing capacities are modest. Russians are already consuming products that have been produced abroad – consumer electronics, apparel, cosmetics, sports equipment to name just a few. Inevitably with the drop of the ruble, the products local retailers are selling are getting more expensive – fully in line with your offer and that of other foreign sellers.


  1. UK brands are being searched for


Russians want your goods. In January 2015 there were 11,521 Yandex search requests for Fred Perry, 3,664 for Paul Smith, 1,551 for Vivienne Westwood and 2,444 for Mulberry. Some brands are turbocharged with marketing campaigns, while some are just air-breathers – but opportunities abound.


  1. Crisis means opportunity


Local Russian competition is struggling. Sales volumes and margins are falling, advertising volumes are dropping and it is becoming increasingly difficult for Russian brands to afford advertising, new product launches or other investments. PPC and SEO prices have dropped even in ruble value as competition weakens. If Russia is appealing to you as a long-term prospect, there has never been a better or cheaper time to test the Russian waters.


Russia is a sleeping giant, and getting an early toehold now may prove determining for future success.




Article By James Roper, Chairman and Founder of IMRG

LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Royal Mail Sponsor

Register today for unlimited article views, and unique insights

Register Now

Building an eCommerce fraud prevention strategy for Germany

Building an eCommerce fraud prevention strategy for Germany

Being the world’s fifth largest eCommerce market, Germany has become an exceptionally popular destination for online merchants looking to sell their goods and services. However, retailers should still be aware of the high levels of fraud to do with their number one payment method. Therefore, what do you need to know about building an eCommerce fraud prevention strategy for Germany?
Interview with Kai Li, Vice President of International at Revolve

Interview with Kai Li, Vice President of International at Revolve

eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit 2017 - Ahead of our annual event on 24th May, we interview Kai Li, Vice President of International at Revolve Clothing, to learn from his experience and knowledge in cross-border trading.
How does device usage differ in France, Germany, and the UK?

How does device usage differ in France, Germany, and the UK?

It is well known that the use of smartphones and tablets has grown rapidly but which device dominates the traffic and at what time of day across France, Germany and UK? And how does device usage differ between these Countries?
Delivery into Russia: what you need to know

Delivery into Russia: what you need to know

Online retailers know the opportunities that comes with expansion into Russia but entering this massive market comes with its delivery challenges. However, what do you need to know about trading and delivery into Russia?
Using non-commercial organisations to grow your online retail business in Russia

Using non-commercial organisations to grow your online retail business in Russia

Russia is frequently perceived by foreign retailers as a complicated and risky environment but there are a number of organisations in Russia that can help you understand this market environment and the rules by which the market plays. But who are they?
Agenda Announced for eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit 2017

Agenda Announced for eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit 2017

The agenda has been announced for the eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit and it boasts a wealth of retail experts with years of experience between them in expanding their brands overseas.
What can UK online retailers learn from major sales events in China?

What can UK online retailers learn from major sales events in China?

By cleverly orchestrating a string of headline-grabbing shopping holidays throughout the year, China is reinventing retail. But why are Chinese consumers embracing these shopping frenzies so readily and offers and how can overseas retailers learn from this to gain and maintain the competitive edge?
How WeChat is used for Business

How WeChat is used for Business

WeChat has been a hot topic for many marketers for a long time. However, how much do we really know about the most used social network in China? And how is WeChat used for business?
Ecommerce in Australasia

Ecommerce in Australasia

The New Zealand and Australia cross-border eCommerce markets are booming and it is looking to continue this way for the coming years. With almost 17 million savvy and highly engaged online shoppers in the region, what do you need to know about these eCommerce markets and which are the most successful retail sites there?
Ecommerce shipping to Australia

Ecommerce shipping to Australia

It’s easy for any retailer to be attracted to the impressive digital adoption Australia has taken with online retail sales of USD $9.5 bn last year. However, this success is not without its challenges as shipping into this widely fragmented country can affect your business - but how?

Contact Us

eCommerce Worldwide
2 Ching Court
49-53 Monmouth St

Tel: 0203 696 0980
2016© eCommerce Worldwide

Keep In Touch

powered by Affino

About eCommerce Worldwide

eCommerce Worldwide provides online retailers with all the information, and resources, they need to develop cross-border strategies for entering new markets around the world
Read More