Today’s Vedomosti.ru reports that the doubling of foreign postal shipments to Russia surprised even the western postal services. Russians seem to have fully embraced international Internet-shopping: 70 percent of incoming parcels handled by Russian Postal Service originate from foreign online stores. Russian Postal Service expected that the volume of incoming parcels would increase by no more than 40-60 percent during the holiday season.
Delivery delays indicate that some foreign online stores and postal services weren’t prepared for the surge in orders from Russia. For example, the British postal service was not able to increase its assigned volume for shipments to Russia with air carriers and had to redirect some of the shipments to Kiev, from where they get delivered to Moscow by road, delaying the delivery by an average of two weeks. The Chinese postal service is also unable to handle the increased volumes of shipments to Russia, and it took as much as three weeks for some of the parcels to reach the Russian Postal Service.
Russian Postal Service reports that the volume of foreign shipments reached 21.6 million parcels in 2012, of which approximately 70 percent, or 15 million, originate with foreign online stores. The most popular foreign online stores in Russia are eBay, Shipito, Zappos, Yoox, Asos and TaoBao. The reason these stores are so popular with the Russians is straightforward – their prices for ordered products are significantly lower than in Russia. Russian online retailers still have an edge thanks to the services and options unavailable for purchases made abroad, such as product return and live communication. In 2012, they shipped as much as 108 million parcels.
With an estimated annual turnover of USD 10.3 billion, the Russian online retail market is still lagging behind Europe and the United States and is comparable to Brazil and India. As a comparison, Amazon.com alone makes USD 48.1 billion in annual sales, and the total online retail markets in the United States and Europe are estimated at USD 194 billion and USD 260 billion, respectively.