AliExpress Takes Russia’s Mobile Shopping by Storm

Dubbed as the premier e-commerce site in Russia, Alibaba’s AliExpress is also winning over the country’s mobile shoppers. Even though Amazon, eBay and Groupon have also tapped into Russia’s growing online consumer market, none has capitalized on the opportunity as much as AliExpress has. As far as local competitors, including Yandex and Ozon, here too, AliExpress has outpaced its rivals. According to 7Park Data’s user panel in Russia, AliExpress’s mobile user engagement has increased significantly between January 2015 and May 2016. Let’s take a closer look at how AliExpress competes in Russia.

While AliExpress is growing fast in various regions around the world, the online retailer’s unprecedented success in Russia is noteworthy. The company’s ongoing efforts and business strategies to lower international barriers and accommodate local customers have been paying off. Last year AliExpress moved with the full force by striking partnerships with Russian payment company Rapida and mobile solutions provider Soyuztelecom to make mobile shopping more accessible and convenient for local users. The online retailer also introduced local warehouse services to address issues with delivery. Amazon, AliExpress’s global competitor, recently introduced its own delivery solution, Amazon Lockers, in a few European cities, but hasn’t yet announced any plans for expanding the service to Russia.

Chart showing AliExpress vs local shopping apps in Russia based on monthly active users between January 2015 and May 2016

In their search for best deals, Russian shoppers prefer AliExpress’s mobile app to local alternatives. AliExpress’s recent announcement that it would accept Russian Central Bank’s Mir card payments (the first foreign company to do so) will only streamline the user experience and the app’s local appeal. Considering that MasterCard and Visa had to curtail their operations due to sanctions, the move gives AliExpress an additional advantage over global competitors in Russia.

As the Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, pointed out at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen earlier this year, “Alibaba is ready to help Russian companies build a complete e-commerce system.”More than a marketplace of cheap goods, AliExpress has become a user-friendly ecosystem for Russian merchants and shoppers alike, providing them with the familiarity and convenience of a local brand and opportunities of an international powerhouse.  

Even though the economic crisis took down a few Russian online retailers and pushed others to downsize, the consumer appetite for online shopping didn’t diminish in the country. AliExpress’s steady growth in active users suggests a sprouting opportunity for mobile shopping in Russia; the trick is to figure out how to navigate in a market that is so susceptible to socio-political changes and government interference.

Interested in global e-commerce? Check out our earlier story on e-commerce in India. If you’d like to check app performance across different categories and geographic regions on your own, request a demo of our dashboard and get started.

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