Just like everyone else when using the Internet, Russians are searching for the fastest and easiest ways to accomplish their goals online. When international businesses launch in a foreign country, sometimes its easy to overlook some assumed parts of the local business, website, and marketing tools that need to be adapted for the foreign market. Russian Search Marketing looks at seven aspects of Russian online expectations to help prepare and improve your offers for the Russian market. As any global player will tell you, online retailers need to adjust for each individual market and Russia is no different.

Russian Language: 

For any websites launching abroad, localization is an important factor in being successful, but Russian language localization is especially important given the size of the audience and limited amount of English speakers. At 87 million users, Russia has the largest Internet audience in Europe, making it a huge market for online shopping and advertising. According to a study conducted by the Common Sense Advisory Board titled “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy,” as reported by Russian Search Marketing, 55% of users only make purchases from websites in their first language. When including respondents with limited English, the preference to make purchases in their native languages increases to more than 80%.

Often brands will keep some native language for style and consistency with the product but put the rest of the website in Russian, as seen below with Vans.

Russians like all shoppers want to be happy with their purchase. As they are researching your product and after they have made a purchase, options to read and communicate in their local language will only encourage shoppers to buy exactly what they are looking for and give feedback should they need to. Through language translation and Russian localization sites will gain the trust of foreign customers and increased credibility among their international user base.

Local Contact Information and FAQ Details: 

It’s common for Russians to search for “official” sites due to a number of sites selling counterfeit goods. It’s therefore especially important to help your users understand you are an official retailer.  Contact information is an important feature to include to make your site credible and to build trust with a potential Russian customer.  Offering several options for customer service and a local phone number and address are especially helpful.   A FAQ section also allows clarification for Russian users and any confusion or uncertainty they may have when using your site.

Preferred Payment Options: 

Historically, Russians have preferred cash on delivery. This gives them an opportunity to receive their purchase and then make a payment. However, over the past few years more diverse payment options have grown in popularity due to ease and the general transition away from a cash only economy. Be sure to include options for cash-on-delivery, bank cards, and various online payments systems. As seen below from a report on Russian eCommerce logistics 2016, there are a number of options users expect.

Preferred Shipping Options:

It is also important to consider the shipping methods made available to Russian customers. The most popular shipping methods for Russians include courier, the Russian post, and pick-up on delivery.  It’s common for international retailers to expect that common shipping methods from expected by users in their own country may apply to another but in reality, each audience, and even different regions within a country can impact logistics.  You don’t want to lose shoppers by not offering options that work in their region.  Sometimes retailers even run into problems by offering a standard shipping information field that may not allow users to include all the relevant information for a package to make it to their door.

Mobile Accessibility: 

Desktops still remain the dominant platform in Russia but more users are turning to their mobile phones to complete their daily online activities. As of February 2016, only 18% of Russian websites were mobile optimized but in the last year there has been a greater mobile focus as more users turn to their phones.  As of recent, publishers can now user the new Yandex Turbo pages to better connect with their mobile audience.   Russians are increasingly relying on mobile devices to access the internet because of their convenience and accessibility.  According to eMarketer, smartphone users are expected to grow around 8% over the next few years.

Local Social Integration: 

Social integration on your website not only helps users share content but it makes it easier to sign up for a service when they can use their social media profile.  Unlike many other users worldwide, Russians prefer local social media sites over some of the international channels.  In Russia, its especially important to include options for their preferred social media channels. Popular social channels and buttons to include for Russian Internet users are Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, two of Russia’s biggest social networking platforms. Other popular social buttons are Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Of course having a page for users on their local channels is equally important.

In recent years, Russia has one of the leading countries in social network user penetration. In 2017, Russia’s social network user penetration was 51.3%. Sites that have social integration allow visitors to link to a company’s social media networks, to provide a way to share a company’s product or service, and log in to a website using an existing social media account.

No Required Registration & Freemium Models:

 The speed in which users can use your site to achieve their desired outcome is crucial to Russian users. A great feature to meet this expectation is no required registration. For example while online shopping, it has become popular to make transactions as a “guest” on a site, rather than having to register to complete a purchase.  While registered users can enjoy other benefits, giving users the option can encourage purchases and perhaps draw in future registered customers.  Russians also prefer to be able to use sites or apps that are free (also require less work inputting information) but are happy to indulge in in-app purchases or other fees. Services that offer paid subscriptions are still popular but when there are available competitive services for free, such as dating apps or streaming services, the freemium services will outshine the paid subscriptions.