Russian e-commerce trends in 2019: differences from the US market

Not all US trends are going to make an impact in Russia: be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy for the Russian market

Not all US e-commerce trends are going to make an impact in Russia: be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy to account for the Russian e-commerce trends

In this post (in Russian), analysts compare Absolunet predictions for the e-commerce industry in the US to what they expect Russian e-commerce trends to be in 2019.

Trend 1: growing importance of environmental and social responsibility for company growth advice for Russia:It is worth pointing out existing initiatives that are good for the world and for society, but do not expect social responsibility to be the deciding factor in purchasing decisions

  • Find ways to capitalize on the fact that many e-commerce stores don’t use plastic bags anymore, possibly by offering a reusable tote as an add-on

Trend 2: stricter return policies (or no free returns)

In Russia: this is one of the local e-commerce trends that’s likely to stay. Market leaders, such as Lamoda and Wildberries already have paid return policies in place. advice:

  • Keep a close eye on product descriptions – over 50% of returns are caused by incorrect product description information
  • Consider introducing bonuses for low product return rates

Trend 3: “tax-free party is over

While in US this trend is related to regional sales taxes, in Russia this has more to do with new ways to check e-commerce store tax compliance. For example, all e-commerce stores should be issuing digital receipts, and not doing so may trigger a tax audit.

Trend 4: mobile shopping is becoming the norm

In Russia: 61% of Internet users regularly use smartphones to browse. In 2018 the share of mobile users grew by 6%. advice:

  • Encourage app download, ideally by offering PWA apps that don’t take up a lot of memory space
  • Improve mobile website navigation

Trend 5: buying on social media

In Russia: VKontakte has been offering this option since 2016, Odnoklassniki started offering this option in 2018.

It is likely that using an API to upload product info will become the preferred method for retailers. advice:

  • Actively promote your products across social media channels

Trend 6: “hiring” AI for product descriptions

Content is king for e-commerce as well, from generating meta descriptions and keywords to product information. However, pricey copy-generating neural networks will probably remain out of reach for small retailers.

In Russia: AI is used by Russian e-commerce stores in chat bots. While there might be large retailers testing copy generating tools, none are currently used, with the exception of Alibaba and its notorious(ly incomprehensible) copy. advice:

  • Even if copy-generating AI is out of reach for now, you can use existing services for lead generation, emails, and personalized recommendations

Trend 7: QR codes are on the rise

In Russia: international retailers, especially in the fashion industry, are already using QR codes.

Given the number of smartphone users in Russia, this trend is likely to apply to the Russian market as well. advice:

  • Follow the QR trends
  • Develop omni-channel sales strategies

Trend 8: growth of online marketplaces

According to the report, “Analysts predict that marketplaces will account for 40% of the global online retail market by 2020.”

In Russia, however, other than Yandex.Market, only Wildberries seems to be getting ready to transition to the online marketplace role, which means that this niche has a lot of potential. advice:

  • Offer a wider product variety
  • Enter new markets
  • Develop partnerships to offer additional services
  • When possible, develop online marketplaces – or collaborate with existing ones

Trend 9: shopping while driving

In Russia: almost half of Yandex.Maps queries are searches for various business locations. However, it appears that geotargeting has only been successful for physical stores – and there are not many case studies available.

Because of that experts believe that this trend is not likely to be relevant for the Russian e-commerce market.

Trend 10: product content syndication

In Russia: along with SMM, content syndication started trending in Russia in 2016, but 2019 is likely to be the year when it becomes more widespread. advice:

  • Determine whether or not content syndication is relevant for your products
  • Publish content on your website and on additional relevant platforms for SEO purposes
  • Consider using syndication services to reduce overhead

Additional e-commerce trends for Russia in 2019

Artem Dorofeev, SEO expert with the digital agency Original Works, adds the following 2 Russian e-commerce market trends:

  • In addition to standard SEO efforts, use Yandex.Maps and Yandex.Market
  • Optimize your on-site content for user intent and customer experience, by offering only relevant images and information

For additional information on Russian e-commerce and Internet usage trends in 2019, check out these articles: