Sberbank, Gazprombank and VTB are looking for a cave of treasures in Internet commerce

Online trading in Russia in five years, lost half of the largest players and slowed down the pace of growth. Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank offered to give it a new impetus.
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In 2016, President Vladimir Putin expressed the wish that an analogue of the Chinese Alibaba would appear in Russia. Two years later, three pilot projects are being developed, which are being developed by Sberbank together with Yandex-Market, VTB in partnership with Post of Russia and the Magnit chain of stores, and Gazprombank with and Megafon. The success of these undertakings will depend on whether new Russian sites will be able to play in advance: while they copy Alibaba and Amazon, they can go far ahead.

Online bears losses

By the end of 2017, the turnover of the Russian online retail market was 1 trillion rubles, the Association of Internet Trade Companies (ACIT) considered. This is only 3% of the total turnover of retail (29.8 trillion rubles). For comparison: in China this indicator exceeds 15%, in Great Britain - 14%, in the USA - more than 7%. The chances of catching up and overtaking developed countries are few: the growth rate is slowing down. If until 2014, the turnover of sellers grew by 30% annually, then in 2016 the industry added 21%, and in 2017 - only 13%.

Not too well feel and market participants. If we compare the TOP-30 players of Russian e-commerce for 2013 and 2017, then it turns out that during this time it did not count half of the players.

At all, the daughter of the "Connected" Enter, Wikimart,, "Sotmarket" and, "Utynet" sites stopped working. Another eight companies significantly reduced market share and were out of the top thirty. In the near future, the list may decrease even more. For example, the German Otto Group announced the closure of its projects in Russia Quelle and Otto.

A difficult situation for the domestic retailer "Yulmart", which is experiencing a corporate conflict.

The market will soon be missed and online projects of offline retail. After the merger with M.Video, the Eldorado network will cease to exist, and Euroset will become the Svyaznoy brand.

The fact that the Russian e-commerce market is about to enter a new era was discussed by participants of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. So, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Oleg Fomichev called the main problem the lack of infrastructure. Because of this, domestic online stores are in essence just services for the delivery of foreign goods. With the advent of players who are ready to invest big money in this ecosystem, the situation should change, the minister is sure.

Such players volunteered to become bankers. "Now they are looking for a new audience, new opportunities," says Alexander Ivanov, president of the National Association of Distance Trade. The successes of Amazon and Alibaba showed them that sellers and buyers of online stores are a promising group of customers, and banks are ready to invest money in this direction, the expert adds.

Sberbank and Yandex: the evolution of the market-place

Yandex and Sberbank decided to create a Russian analogue of Amazon on the basis of Yandex-Market. In April, the companies agreed that they will invest 60 billion rubles in its development. And in May, launched in the test mode site "" Unlike the market-place "Yandex-Market", which allows only to search for goods, compare prices, and then sends to the store of the seller, "" independently prepares the purchase and is responsible for their delivery. As Maxim Grishakov, CEO of Yandex.Market, explained during the SPIEF, the classic market-place should evolve into a universal platform that will give sellers sales channels, solve the delivery problem and provide payment instruments.

Simultaneously, Yandex and Sberbank are preparing a platform for cross-border trade. The project was headed by Alex Vasiliev, previously responsible for the development of the logistics company Cainiao (part of the Alibaba Group) in Russia and the CIS. It is assumed that at the first stage the site will deal with the delivery of foreign goods, but then it will begin to work with Russian exports abroad.

While the scale of business is not too large. Assortment "" has 25 thousand products in seven categories. "The plan before the end of the year to have 150 thousand commodity positions on the site, in the next few years the range will increase to a million," Fontanka told Yandex.Market. For comparison: has 5 million items, Aliexpress has tens of millions. While the issue with the infrastructure remains unresolved. Now the company uses leased capacities that meet its quality standards, noted in the "Yandex.Market."

VTB, "Russian Post" and "Magnet": between online and offline

Unlike the company Sberbank and "Yandex", the issue with the infrastructure of the second consortium is almost solved. At his disposal are the capacities of the logistics giant Mail of Russia, as well as 37 distribution centers, over 6,000 cars and 17,000 Magnit stores across Russia.

But the business model does not yet have clear outlines. The Memorandum of Cooperation, signed in February 2018, speaks of creating a "new retail format for combined provision of trade, postal, logistics and banking services." According to Alexei Yakovitsky, CEO of VTB Capital, the strategy of the new retailer is to blur the boundaries between "online and offline". The largest Russian trade network "Magnet" "can not but become part of the e-commerce ecosystem," he said.

"Magnet" in late June, will launch stores in the offices of "Post of Russia" in 12 cities of Russia, and trucks retailer will begin to transport parcels. One of the possible options for the development of the project is the creation of a service for the delivery of goods. It is known that the FSUE plans to develop a full service (a set of operations from the moment the order is placed by the buyer and until it is received by the buyer.) - Ed.).

Own investment program of the "Post of Russia" for 2018 will be 30 billion rubles, half of this amount will go to the development of logistics, half to modernize the IT infrastructure. Another 30 billion rubles for the creation of 40 logistics centers will be provided by VTB. But whether it is a loan or an investment, is not yet determined.

Gazprombank, Rostech, Megafon and buyers from social networks

Another consortium of Gazprombank, state corporation Rostek, Megafon and is working on the creation of the Russian analogue Alibaba. These companies decided to start with the promotion of financial services. Partners plan to use data on users of social networks "VKontakte" and "Classmates" to address their financial products. The cost of the joint venture is estimated at 450 million dollars. Further development in the field of e-commerce will be a logical step for this project, says Alexander Ivanov from the National Distance Trade Association. " has delivery service Delivery club and other projects in the field of e-commerce, experiments with sales in the social network" VKontakte ", - he says. The competitive advantage of this site will be inexpensive traffic, which can be attracted from social networks.

Catch up and overtake

Sberbank and Yandex are going to sell goods worth 500 billion rubles in five years. The whole market by this year, according to ACIT, should be 2 trillion rubles. Thus, "" claims a quarter of the e-commerce market. Other consortia of their forecasts did not sound, but one can assume that their appetites, at least, are not less.

This is not such an unrealistic plan. The business model of Internet retailers of the first wave turned out to be unstable. Despite the solid turnover, most of the projects did not bring profit. "Unlike them, banks have resources that can support projects during trial and error," Alexander Ivanov said.

But the new sites will not compete in the first place with domestic players, but with real Alibaba and Amazon. According to ACIT, now more than a third of Russians spend on online purchases remains in the pocket of foreign online stores, mostly participants of the Aliexpress site. The government is preparing measures to limit cross-border online trade. In particular, it plans to gradually reduce the threshold of duty-free importation for parcels from foreign online stores from € 1 thousand to € 200.

But on this way problems have already appeared. Last week, it became known that the "Russian Post" was not technologically ready for reforms and suggested that the government should postpone the reduction of the duty-free threshold at the beginning of 2021. This could jeopardize its joint project with VTB.

Meanwhile, international giants are actively looking for a way out. So, Alibaba already localized in Russia, launching the Tmall site for Russian sellers. "It is possible that Amazon will come. It will be useless to copy them, it is impossible to catch up, "notes Alexander Ivanov.

The government's hopes that Russian online sites, like Alibaba, will help to make a jerk to small producers, against the backdrop of the recent decision to raise the base VAT rate from the current 18% to 20%, also may not be justified. "Without additional support measures this will not work. It is necessary to change the tax policy, certification, licensing. If this is not done, then we will receive analogues of "Yandex-Market" - small online stores that will trade in imported goods, "the expert stresses.

In other words, if legislative initiatives to change VAT are not balanced by lowering other deductions, Russian Internet retailers will not be able to compete with foreign giants.