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.

SPAM isn’t all that bad

Where I look on the web, everyone is complaining about SPAM. “My Inbox is full of SPAM”, “I am lacking behind because of SPAM”, “My site was SPAMed” and stuff like that. I beileve that everything in the world has its good and bad sides. Such situation with SPAM when everyone is complaining about it is one-sided though. I believe there is some good to be found. Here is my small contribution.

Every time comments in my blog get SPAMed I feel good. You might think that I am such a pathetic loser that SPAM comments are the only kind that I get, but that’s not true. I am soon to celebrate a 1000th comment (that’s a hint by the way). The reason for my joy is my choice of software. Since I migrated to WordPress SPAM stopped bothering me. At all. When yet another script comes in and leaves two or three dozen comments about “online casino” or “morgage bonus” all over my posts, all I have to do is click on “Awaiting moderation” link in the administration interface, scroll down to the “Mark all as SPAM” link, click it, and than click “Moderate comments” button to submit my moderation. That’s it. It probably takes me less time to discard all of these comments than it takes that script to generate and post them. Fantastic!

But my blog SPAM is not the only kind that provides me with good mood. Occasionally, a SPAM message would get through my anti-SPAM software that protects my mailbox. Since these are usually singular messages which are easy to identify and delete, I can afford some time to look inside. More often than not they are pretty funny. Consider this one from today.

Date: Sat, 9 Jul 2005 09:01:08 -0700
Subject: Your password has been successfully updated

[-- Attachment #1 --]
[-- Type: text/html, Encoding: 7bit, Size: 0.5K --]

   Dear user leonid,

   You have successfully updated the password of 
   your Mamchenkov account.

   If you did not authorize this change or if you 
   need assistance with your account, please 
   contact Mamchenkov customer service at:

   Thank you for using Mamchenkov!
   The Mamchenkov Support Team

   +++ Attachment: No Virus (Clean)
   +++ Mamchenkov Antivirus -

[-- Attachment #2: --]

Isn’t it funny? First of all, I am the administrator of domain and all services related to it. So I know that this is crap even before I finish reading the Subject line. Oh, wait. I actually know that this is crap even before I finish reading the From email address, because, guess what, there is no such email as And, of course, there is no such thing as “The Mamchenkov Support Team”. Or “Mamchenkov Antivirus”. That all is just pure fun! It’s like I would be trying to convince you that you are not you, but that I am you, although I am obviously not. :)

Now that I am thinking about it, I was wrong saying that the Web remembers only the bad stuff about SPAM. There was a lot of laughter on that Slashdot story about some African cosmonaut left on the orbit. And there was this poetry project that was using phrases from the SPAM messages composed into poems.

What’s your SPAM fun story?