Russia flag Russia: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Russia


Internet access
Russia with its 144.3 million inhabitants is the most populated country in Europe, ahead of Germany (81.4 million) and Turkey (80.8 million). The Internet penetration rate rose to 76.4% in 2017 (Internet World Stats), which is not far from the European average (80.2%). With its 109.5 million internet users, Russia is also by far the largest internet market in Europe (16.6% of total users in Europe). Smartphone penetration rate was reported at 54.7% in 2017 (Newzoo Global Mobile Market Report), which is slightly behind the global average (63% - Zenith Media estimates). Russia is one of the few countries in the world where Google is not the most popular search engine, as the locally-built continues to benefit from huge popularity. The share of was forecast at 54.01% while Google and had 42.72% and 2.17% respectively (Statcounter).
E-commerce market
E-commerce in Russia has been growing steadily in recent years, and recorded a 17% growth in 2017. However, it remains smaller than most online markets in western Europe, given that it is worth US$ 33.5 billion, as opposed to US$ 67.9 billion in Germany and US$ 93 billion in France (E-commerce Wiki). In terms of GDP, e-commerce was forecast to have reached 1.39% of total economic activity and 2.8% of retail sales in 2017. Russian e-commerce is expected to grow at a slower rate in the upcoming years, at around 10% on average, as the economy has only modestly recovered from recession. Growth is fuelled to a large extent by cross-border trade, which accounted for nearly one-third of the total e-commerce market and grew by 37% in 2017, while the domestic e-commerce market grew only 6%. Over 80 million Russians used smartphones in 2017, and this figure is expected to rise to over 93 million by 2021, which should boost Russian e-commerce. The share of mobile in retail e-commerce stood at 22% according to latest available data (Criteo), a figure comparable to that of the United States (25%). Chinese-owned Aliexpress is by far the most visited e-commerce site in Russia - with over 22 million accesses in 2017 - while the local Wildberries has the highest number of orders within the country, and was accessed almost 7 million times that year.
E-commerce sales and customers
In 2017, an estimated 62.5 million people (around 50% of Russian Internet users) shopped online, according to Eurostat. The average spending per person continues to rise in the country, and was forecast to have reached US$ 724 in 2017, an increase from US$ 676 in 2016 (Ecommerce Foundation). Russians tend to be occasional online buyers, as only 15% of total internet users and 11% of the population aged 18 and above consider themselves frequent online shoppers, according to a Levada Centre survey. In terms of shopping preferences, apparel and footwear are the most popular category ( representing 37% of total e-commerce sales), followed by cosmetics and perfume (33%), health goods (27%) and children goods (26%) (Gfk Russia and Yandex 2017). Russian e-commerce differs from most of its European counterparts as cash is by far the most popular payment method, with 69% of shoppers opting for cash on delivery, as opposed to 10% choosing credit cards (Payvision Survey). Another characteristic that differentiates Russian shoppers is that they prefer to pick up the items purchased online in-store. In fact, 72% of items bought online are collected in-store, while only 16% are delivered. An increasing number of Russians shoppers have also opted for international e-commerce websites, with cross-border trade accounting for a third of total online sales. Chinese websites are the most popular ones, accounting for 90% of all cross-border sales and 52% of money spent on foreign platforms (AITC, Gfk). This trend might change throughout 2018, as Russia is set to introduce a law that will impose VAT duties on receipt of goods worth more than US$ 1157 as of May. This threshold is expected to drop to US$ 578 from 1 January 2019 and US$ 231 from 1 January 2020.
Social media
Unlike most European countries, local social media networks benefit from huge popularity in Russia. While YouTube is among the most popular social media networks (with over 39 million users), VKontakte, Moi Mir (provided by and Odnoklassiki continue to dominate the market. Vkontakte is Russia’s largest social network, with 41.1 million Russians in 2017, and is particularly popular among those under 34 years old, as 80% of all users belong to that age group. Moi Mir, a social networking site that is an extension of the email provider, is quickly gaining popularity and had an average of 25 million monthly users in 2017. Odnoklassiki is the third most popular network in Russia, and had around 27 million users, with a big part of them aged between 25 and 34. Twitter is fairly popular, with about 7.7 million visitors a month. Facebook and Instagram are not as popular as in most western countries. Facebook had 21.7 million users in 2017, and Instagram accounted for 16 million users. Furthermore, blogging is quite popular in Russia with LiveJournal hosting a large population of internet users. However, this network had to modify its terms of use in April 2017, making the website subject to Russian law, which forbids blogs attracting more than 3000 visitors to publish "extremist materials". This decision caused a backlash among its users as it was considered to be an attempt to censor free speech. LiveJournal has lost several users in response to the censorship, but the platform still attracts about 15.2 million monthly users. LinkedIn has also been banned in the country since November 2016, as it was found in breach of a new data retention law which requires the user data of Russian citizens to be stored on servers based in Russia (an obligation with which LinkedIn refused to comply). Moreover, almost 70% of all social media visits come from mobile devices, and the most active social media users live in big cities. As of August 2018, the most popular social media platforms by market share in Russia were YouTube (22.87%), Facebook (20.99%), VKontakte (19.41%), Twitter (13.04%), Instagram (11.4%) and Pinterest (6.39%).

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Latest Update: May 2023

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