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Cross-Border eCommerce in Russia - What you need to know

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Author: Jonathan Matchett, UK Managing Director, wnDirect

We regularly make the point that the first rule of international eCommerce is localisation.

For a country like Russia that covers more than an eighth of the Earth’s inhabited space and is split into 83 federal subjects, this remains sound advice. At 17,075,200 square kilometers, with a population of 149 million, spanning 11 time zones and with varying terrain you can see why it would be a bit naïve not to consider there to be differences in consumers.

 

This pre-amble wasn’t an attempt to put you off however; far from it. The numbers stack up and are more than worth the effort – we just wanted to forewarn you. After all, forewarned is forearmed.

 

Cross-border shopping is the fastest-growing segment of the Russian eCommerce market. In 2014 cross-border shoppers placed 47 million orders at foreign eCommerce sites. With international eCommerce currently only representing 2% of the total retail market there is still plenty of room for growth.

 

Cross-Border eCommerce with Russia

 

So what’s the lesson? Understanding the consumer is vital. Take on-board the enormity of the space the country occupies and consider how you can offer a genuinely positive customer service experience.

 

Seeing as we also practice what we preach (and we are nice people at wnDirect) we decided to go and have a chat with some of these consumers and find out for ourselves some useful insights. At the end of last year we commissioned some research which surveyed over 1,000 Russian consumers who had bought clothing online. So what did we learn?

 

  • The desire for international brands remains strong: more than a third of respondents had last purchased clothing from an international brand or website within the one to three months prior to the research being conducted, with almost one in five reporting that they had done so in the previous 4 weeks
  • Consider the man: whilst the majority of online consumers confessed to ‘buying what they like’ regardless of the country of origin more men (23%) than women (8%) actively sought out foreign brands
  • It’s not just a young thing: those aged 45-54 are most likely to seek out international brands when looking to purchase clothing with the US proving the most popular location amongst all those who do actively seek out foreign brands
  • It’s all about customer service: shipping, customer reviews and simple ordering were the chief concerns when shopping on international sites among all respondents. In terms of delivery, respondents were most concerned with shipping costs, speed and the ability to track the parcel
  • Consider your options: whilst the majority of respondents preferred to have their parcel delivered to their home (44.6%), 40% preferred a locker / click and collect type option

 

For more information, please consult our Russia ‘passport’ trading guide.

 

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