Voice of the Industry

Cross-border ecommerce in Russia – facts and figures

Tuesday 16 February 2021 09:17 CET | Editor: Alex Guzu | Voice of the industry

Nadezhda Vinogradova from Data Insight sheds light on the intricate particularities of the Russian cross-border ecommerce market, providing specific examples and stats

The Russian ecommerce market size amounted to USD 32 billion and 800 million orders in 2019 (including across border) – and according to Data Insight estimates, the Russian domestic ecommerce market volume will reach USD 35,1 billion in 2020, while the number of orders is expected to exceed 1.1 billion. According to Internet World Stats, in 2019 the number of Internet users in Russia was 116,3 million people, representing approximately 80% of the total population of the country in 2019 (while the average for Europe is 87%).

Moreover, in 2019 ecommerce growth reached 28%, and it significantly accelerated in 2020, up to 44%. The pandemic became a growth driver, and some of the main growth factors are:

  1. 10 million new consumers in three months of self-isolation; 

  2. 5-7 million employees working remotely; 

  3. an increased frequency of online purchases and a forced reduction in stores` visits; 

  4. a sharp growth registered in the eGrocery market (4.5 times from scratch, growth in geography and audience).


Between 2019 and 2020, the structure of the Russian ecommerce market has changed: some new market leaders have formed, claiming tens of percentage points of the market share and investing heavily in market infrastructure and advertising.

We estimate that investments in the ecommerce market exceeded USD 500 million in 2019. More precisely, the largest market players in 2019 were Wildberriers (USD 3.2 million, with a 89% market growth), Citilink (USD 1.3 million, with a 24% market growth), and Ozon (USD 1.2 million, with a 93% market growth), with online sales accounting for almost a quarter of the domestic market in 2019. 47% of orders were placed for clothing, footwear, and accessories online stores, while the revenue leaders are electronics online stores (28%) and clothing, footwear, and accessories online stores (25%).


When it comes to international players, these are very well positioned in the Russian ecommerce market, and the largest market share is occupied by Chinese online stores. AliExpress accounts for 79% of the total cross-border volume in parcels, representing 58% of all the money, and a smaller share goes in the direction of the west – only 5% in parcels and 27% in money. The top 5 foreign online stores in Russia are AliExpress, eBay, Joom, iHerb, and Asos.

Cross-border logistics and trade

There are many cross-border logistics operators in Russia, but a huge part of the parcels is transported by the Russian Post – more than 90% of the shipments. A smaller part of the shipments is represented by large orders, carried out by other international logistics operators. The cross-border trade scheme is different for the Russian Post, if compared with other logistics operators. To this point, the Post has simplified the customs clearance of parcels, while the customs clearance process for other operators requires more documents and takes more time and effort. Using bonded warehouses for Russia is a new story and has not been tested yet. When it comes to popular ways to pay for cross-border parcels in Russia, the preferred one is online payment by credit card, while the international payment system PayPal is rarely used.

Ecommerce country insights

Lastly, we put together a short list that aims to shed more light on the intricate particularities of the Russian ecommerce market, including specific examples and stats.

1. Fragmented logistics infrastructure – the large territory, the remote settlements, and the poor quality of the roads complicate logistics and make it expensive. The only logistics operator delivering throughout Russia is the Russian Post. Until recently, it was not a good operator, so new logistics companies appeared on the market. The quality and the terms of the delivering services vary across all these companies, which is due to different delivery technologies.

2. Popularity of delivery pick-up points – during the pandemic, the share of orders which were delivered via pick-up points did not decrease. Delivery is carried out via specialised networks (for example, Pickpoint, Russian Post offices, specialised grocery stores such as Pyaterochka), and the number of pick-up points grows constantly. From May 2019 to September 2020, the number of pick-up points with different addresses increased by 47% and amounted to 39,000 throughout Russia.

3. Orders coming from large cities are disproportionate in volume – Moscow and St. Petersburg are the main centres of ecommerce, which affects the warehouses’ location and the hyper-concentration of retailers in the two cities. That is one of the reasons why the delivery to remote settlements can take up to two weeks, while delivering products in the central district takes on average two days.

4. High customer expectations from the delivery process – free or cheap delivery is the market norm and at the same time it represents a barrier for some logistic operators. Customers in large cities are used to next day delivery services, and Moscow residents are already benefiting from same day delivery of goods.

5. Long way to shopping from foreign online stores – a poor knowledge of English limits the Russian customers when making purchases from abroad. However, shopping from foreign online stores has seen a significant growth when these retailers adapted their websites to the Russian market, translating the content into Russian.

6. Pay after delivery is very popular – cards have become more widespread not so long ago, and now most Russians have bank accounts. However, cash is still popular, and customers are used to pay after their order is delivered.

This editorial was first published in our Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2020–2021, which assesses the change of pace that occurred in 2020 and provides a comprehensive overview of the major trends driving growth in this space, being the ultimate source of information for players interested in selling across borders.

About Nadezhda Vinogradova

Nadezhda Vinogradova is an analyst at Data Insight. Nadezhda`s responsibilities include preparing the monthly research ‘Logistics for e-commerce market’, reports from the ‘Sales geography of product category’ series, and other ecommerce market reports. Recently, Nadezhda graduated with honors from the Moscow State Linguistic University, Institute of Information Sciences.



About Data Insight

Data Insight is the first Russian research agency specialising in the ecommerce market. The agency was founded by Fedor Virin and Boris Ovchinnikov. Data Insight provides market data and statistics: sales, popular products, dynamics of prices, leading online retailers, ecommerce market research, and field studies for customer satisfaction or online store performance.


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Keywords: Nadezhda Vinogradova, Data Insight, Russia, Europe, ecommerce, cross-border ecommerce
Categories: Payments & Commerce | Ecommerce
Countries: Russian Federation
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce