News ID: 261367
Published: 1108 GMT November 10, 2019

Russian e-commerce booms despite economic doldrums

Russian e-commerce booms despite economic doldrums
Online retailer Ozon handles over 100,000 packages a day at one of its logistics center in the town of Tver. (AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

Moscow photographer Galina Goryushina said that online shopping has changed her life.

"I've got more time for myself," said the 30-year-old freelancer, AFP reported.

"I don't have to haul heavy shopping bags. And I don't waste money on silly knick-knacks laid out on the store shelves," said Goryushina.

The young woman began shopping online a decade ago when she could not find clothes she liked in Russia and now makes most of her purchases online.

Russia may be a latecomer to the world of online shopping but e-commerce is experiencing explosive growth in the country despite a stagnant economy weighed down by Western sanctions.

Russia's economic growth stood at just 0.7 percent in the first six months of 2019.

Over the same period, the Russian e-commerce market has expanded by 26 percent to 725 billion rubles ($11.3 billion), according to a study by Data Insight, a Russian-based research agency.

The sector is developing rapidly despite numerous logistical challenges in the world's largest country including an often unreliable postal service.

Long distances and low population density make e-commerce an appealing — and sometimes even the only — option in Russia.

Even in affluent Moscow, where shopping malls offer a huge variety of consumer goods, many prefer to shop online to avoid the ubiquitous traffic jams.

One of Russia's biggest online retailers, Ozon, began as an online bookstore — much like the global giant Amazon — and later expanded into other types of merchandise.

On a recent tour of Ozon's offices in Moscow's business district, chief executive Alexander Shulgin said the potential for growth in Russia was enormous.

"I am absolutely confident that e-commerce will be absolutely huge in Russia, it's transformative for the country," he said, pointing to Russia's high Internet penetration, with 95 million online users.

In the first six months of this year, the number of online orders went up by