The ecommerce industry in Russia was worth 920 billion rubles, which is about 14.85 billion euros, in 2016. This is an increase of 20 percent when compared to the year before. Estimates are ecommerce in Russia will reach 1 trillion rubles (16.14 billion euros) at the end of this year.
These numbers come from a study conducted by the Association of Online Retail Companies (AKIT) and was brought to our attention by Russia Beyond The Headlines. This study also shows that Russian consumers increasingly prefer foreign retailers. Non-Russian sellers now account for almost third of the total ecommerce market in Russia, while the cross-border market grew harder (37 percent) than the local market did (6 percent).
Especially, ordering online at Chinese web stores is popular among Russian consumers. Data shows that 90 percent of goods purchases at foreign stores comes from China, while in monetary terms the Chinese share is slightly over 50 percent. So, consumers mostly make small orders in Chinese online stores. “Experts say Chinese retailers might soon drive Russian companies out of the market if this trend continues”, RBTH writes.
According to Alexey Fedorov, the president of ecommerce association AKIT, the growth of cross-border trade in the Russian ecommerce market is mostly due to the lower prices. “And that’s because foreign companies don’t have to pay taxes or fees”, he explains. Currently, small parcels entering Russia are exempt from customs duties, while Russian retailers that import their goods need to pay various tariffs.
He thinks Russia should introduce fees and taxes for the cross-border ecommerce market, because otherwise the country will become a tax-free market for China. “There’ll be nothing left of Russian ecommerce in a few years and we’ll sell nothing but Chinese goods.”
It may not come as a surprise that the most popular online store in Russia is the website of a Chinese retailer. Last year, Aliexpress had over 22 million unique visitors per months, which is far more than Ozon, Russia’s second most popular online retailer, which welcomed 9 million visitors per month.