9 of 10 Russians Buy Online

According to research conducted by the global market research company Nielsen, 90% of Russians have made at least one online purchase in the last ten years. Consumer trust in online shopping platforms has grown and the list of goods that they buy online has expanded and as a result more Russians buy online.

The majority of online customers have purchased clothing (52%), beauty and personal care items (35%), event tickets (32%), electronics (32%), books, music, and news media (32%), mobile devices (31%) and take-out food or meal kits (30%). Among fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) that do not fall into the beauty/personal care category, children’s goods top the list (19%), pet supplies (13%) and home cleaning supplies (9%).


For some categories, Russians buy online with more frequency than offline. For example, 73% were more likely to purchase video games online and 65% — travel-related items. However, there are still certain categories of goods that Russian consumers prefer to buy offline. These include packaged foods, wine and spirits, and fresh produce (only 3-4% of those surveyed had purchased items from these categories online).

Drivers and Barriers to the growth of e-commerce

The main driver of e-commerce growth in Russia is consumers’ desire for convenience items and time-saving mechanisms. Retailers that are able to communicate efficiently, offer flexible delivery options, and expand their product offerings are in the best position to broaden their online audience. Even if we return to the aforementioned product categories that people rarely purchase online, most people surveyed would be willing to go online for them if the time-savings or product selection made doing so worthwhile. For example, 59% of those surveyed said that they would buy perishable groceries online if retailers offered items that met their specific dietary needs. It’s also important for retailers to reassure consumers that any products ordered online will be delivered fresh.

Delivery options make a big difference

Russian consumers appreciate having several delivery options. Many prefer the  “order online, pick up in store” option, with 9% of respondents stating that they use it all the time and 55% saying that they would try that option. This is comparable to the figures for “home delivery”, which 8% use all the time and 58% say they would try. Additionally, 78% of respondents said that they would order more frequently online if a retailer had pickup points located near main transport stops (such as central metro stations).

One barrier to the growth of online retail in Russia is a lack of trust among consumers that online retailers will protect their personal information. Only 38% of respondents answered that they completely agree with the statement “I am certain that information on online sellers’ websites is protected and secure.” In comparison, 54% of respondents located in European Union countries answered that they completely agree.

The growth of online sales in the FMCG segment

Russians are buying fast-moving consumer goods more frequently online. For example, instant coffee sales grew by 27% in the 3rd quarter of 2018 whereas offline sales did not grow from the previous quarter. A similar dynamic is observed with other popular categories: chocolate sales grew by 51% in comparison to 8% offline, shampoo — 90% compared to 3% offline. And energy drinks experienced record online growth over that same quarter: 108% in comparison with just 4% growth in offline sales.

Consumers pay premium prices for FMCG items online. Sometimes the difference in price is several times over.

For example, the energy drinks that experienced such an explosive growth in online sales in the third quarter of 2018 sell for 3.5 times the price online that they do offline. Shampoo can sell for 9 times as much. The exception to this rule is water, which sells online for 1/6th the price that it does in retail stores.

In summary, Russian consumers are willing to pay a premium for the convenience of ordering online and are open to purchasing categories of items that have traditionally been the domain of brick-and-mortar establishments. However, retailers need to make an extra effort to assure consumers that their data will be protected and may want to expand their delivery options to include delivery points and/or in-store pickups.


These figures were taken from a Nielsen Connected Commerce study that was conducted in May 2018. Over 30,000 consumers throughout 64 countries, including Russia, were polled.

Not noted in the original report, but it’s safe to assume that the reference to ‘Russians’ represents the Russian online audience. So more accurately, nine out of every 10 Russians online has completed a purchase online in the past year.

Click here to download the full report (in Russian).