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

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Author: Olga Guseva, Managing Partner, How2Russia

Russia is frequently perceived by foreign retailers as a complicated and risky environment.

Those companies who decide to launch in Russia want to grab as much information and help as possible. It may seem complicated from the first view, 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.


There are two basic types of help you can get from non-commercial organisations for online retail in Russia. These include market information and advice, and networking. This article will look at how you can make use of them to grow your business in Russia.


The Commercial Department of the UK Embassy in Russia


Naturally, the first choice in understanding the market would be to contact the Department for International Trade in Russia1. Department for International Trade aims to help UK-based companies to succeed in global economy.


The division in Russia offers publications, including comprehensive online Russia trade and export guide2, as well as personal consultations by trade advisors, each specialised in specific industry with extensive networking possibilities. You can also use this resource to check for events, trade shows, missions and webinars organised or recommended by DIT in Russia.


Commercial Departments of embassies of other countries


Although the UK Embassy will be your first point of contact in the country, consulates and embassies of other countries can provide quite helpful links and can be a good source of local contacts if you attend the events, organised by consulate or trade missions.


US and Canadian Embassies are the easiest as the information is presented in English, while other countries also publish some materials in English.


eCommerce associations in Russia


There are two major associations for online retail in Russia. Namo3 unites 24 large Russian and international players that operate in the Russian market and hold more than 50% of the total ecommerce sales turnover in the country. The association frequently shares market research results and runs a series of events aimed to facilitate cross-border trade in Russia.


AKIT4 unites largest local players in Russian market and aims to support fair competition, high-quality customer service and decrease the share of grey market sales.


The organisation offers busy calendar of events, including roundtables, forums and conferences devoted to various aspects of ecommerce, including logistics, payments and legal aspects as well as industry-specific events.


AKIT frequently publishes market updates and ecommerce industry news as well as comments on hot topics Russian in ecommerce.


AKORT5 unites 39 largest offline retailers in Russia and aims to build the conditions for development of civilised and competitive retail market in Russia. The association runs a series of industry-specific events and exhibitions and can be a valuable source of information about competitive environment and consumer expectations.

Exhibitions in Russia

Exhibitions and forums


Apart from events, organised by ecommerce associations, there are a number of events organised by independent conference groups. For example, BBCG6 annually holds a number of annual large-scale events devoted to online retail. Retail Business Russia & EAEU happens annually in September — this is the largest professional event in Russian retail.


This is the best place to network and to meet the representatives of large and middle-sized retail, manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, vendors and solution providers, government officials and media.


Online Retail Russia7 forum takes place annually in spring. This year the event will happen on 20-21st of April 2017. This is the second largest online retail event in Russia. The event unites the largest players of Russian consumer market, including largest brick-and-mortar retail networks, manufacturers and distributors as well as big online retailers and marketplaces.


Another events organised by BBCG include forums and exhibitions, devoted to private labels, DIY, textile and food segments as well as retail technologies. Fashion retailers can get a lot of valuable information and connections by visiting Fashion Retail forum.


If you are planning to roll up your sleeves and dive deep into building your ecommerce presence in Russia by finding local solution providers, consider visiting Russian Internet Forum. This year it will happen on 19th – 21st of April in Moscow region. Digital marketing, ecommerce, advertising and SEO, targeting and mobile technologies — latest and freshest first-hand info for those who plan large-scale investments and need to have a good grip of local technologies.


Federal State Statistics Service


Federal State Statistics Service8, also widely known as Rosstat in Russia, is an official source of high-level statistical information about Russian economy.


It will give you an overview of macroeconomic factors in Russia, average salaries (please be aware there is always a difference between real and reported income), inflation data, demographics, FDI, import and export data — all of it available free of charge.


You can also access databases of statistical data that will give you a wealth of information about specific industries, including healthcare, retail, construction, entertainment etc. The data can be accessed in user-friendly infographic view and segmented by period or geographical region.


Market research and consulting agencies


Naturally, the primary focus of market research and consulting agencies is to sell you their services in the country, but many of them have non-commercial divisions that collect and distribute valuable information on online retail in Russia. This takes the form of whitepapers, blog posts, and market research synopses, free of charge.


The majority of information is in Russian, but you can get a good hold of basic info and numbers with simple Google Translate tool.


For example, Data Insight is regularly publishing TOP-100 ratings of Russian ecommerce. Recently they have published the research on how Russians spend online during the nighttime and a dedicated report on logistics in Russian ecommerce — all free and available online.


East-West Digital News is not only a news hub publishing the latest info on digital world in Russia, but also a source of detailed industry reports, conveniently available in English.


J’son and partners management consulting company shares their own market reports on specific, mostly high-tech industries, including telecom services, high-tech portable devices, biometric systems etc., as well general research highlighting the trends and forecasts of Russian online retail.


Yandex can be helpful not only as a largest Russian search engine with great analytical tools, but also as a source of valuable research data. For example, in December 2016 they have published a report on online retail development in Russia. You can also find reports on what Russians are buying online, how Cyber Monday works in Russia and reports on demand in specific market niches.



Download the eCommerce Worldwide Country Guide to read more about trading into Russia.



1 - .GOV - Department for international trade with Russia

2 - .GOV - Russia trade and export guide

3 - NAMO - Online retail association for Russia

4 - AKIT - Largest local players in Russian Market

5 - AKORT - Largest collection of offline retailers in Russia

6 - BBCG

7 - Online Retail Russia 2017

8 - Federal State Statistics Service

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