Russian web shoppers : the relative absolutes

Quintura blog has this nice post with some statistics of Russian online shoppers – how often they buy, what they buy, and how they pay.  As any other bit of statistics, it’s rather interesting.  However, I think there is more to it than the article covers.  Here are my random thoughts in a bullet list format.

  • “85% of Russian Internet users shop online”.  It would be extremely interesting to see at least some approximation of country population to its Internet users.  According to Wikipedia, Russian population is about 142,000,000 people.  How many of these are online?  According to some resources, such as, for example, Public Opinion Foundation Database, it’s somewhere between 18% and 25%.  And then again, it’s depends a lot on where you are looking at.  Moscow and surrounding areas have a much higher Intenret penetration than Central and Eastern Russia.  Moscow can have as much as 56% of its population online, while less than 20% of the Urals and the Siberia population are connected.
  • “The Russian e-commerce market has doubled to $3.2 billion in 2007″. Sounds huge, doesn’t it.  But let’s see. I’ll pick 28,000,000 people or 25% of connected population as per Public Opinion Foundation Database for the calculations.  85% of these are shopping online.  That’s about 23,800,000 people.  $3.2 billion market devided equally between all those people comes down to $135.  So, the market is huge, rather because there are so many people around, as opposed to how much those people buy. If you need more numbers to explain you the situation, have a look at the state of the Russian economy at Wikipedia.
  • “However, it’s yet to become a habit because only 16% of users shop online once a month”. Sounds like the other 84% shop less than once a month.  Why?  Maybe because it isn’t so easy to find a few people to batch into a single order.  Or maybe they just don’t have time to, between the two jobs or something.
  • “Most of the shoppers or 70% paid for online goods in cash upon delivery while only 12% of responders used bank cards in online transactions and another 10% used online payment systems”.  Internationally recognized credit cards, like Visa or MasterCard, are probably either expensive to have or difficult to get or both.  Personally, I don’t have much experience in this area, but I’ve heard a few of my Russian friends complaining about the state of the banking system in the country.  Also, there is another thing to remember – language.  I don’t have any numbers at hand, but I’d say that people who can at least read and understand at least one foreign language are a minority in Russia.  With no credit card and foreign language knowledge, most of the purchasing activity would stay within the country.
  • “The most popular shopping items included books (51% of responders), computers (43%), home appliances (42%), software (31%), movies (26%), beauty products (25%), and music (23%)”.  It looks like the majority of Russian online shoppers are rather young, tech-savvy people.
  • All of the above make it sound like a lot of marketing opportunities – large number of people, who are roughly in the same age group, with somewhat poor geographic distribution and limited access to credit cards… And with that, it’s interesting to see at the advertising channels.  TV, radio, Internet itself.  And then, which Russian sites with some sort of ad campaigns are the most visited?

Feel free to throw in your thoughts and more numbers via comments.