An Amazon Wannabe Rises On the Steppes
Internet ▶ After beating Google, Russia’s Yandex targets e-commerce ▶ “Shops now pay for concrete transactions”
In a Google-dominated world, Yandex became Russia’s largest internet search engine by offering a better way to interpret the peculiarities of Slavic grammar. And two years before Uber made it to the country, Yandex started a ride-hailing service that’s become the market leader in Moscow. Now the company is targeting a business ruled in many places by another American behemoth, Amazon.com, with a renewed bet on e-commerce as expansion in its search business begins to slow. “Consumers like us, and stores want to list on our platform,” says Pavel Aleshin, the executive overseeing the company’s online shopping effort.
Yandex.market, a separate site from the company’s search page, includes more than 20,000 merchants selling everything from dog food to roller skates. Its minimalist layout draws about 22 million visitors a month, according to researcher TNS. To attract business, Yandex has started arranging nationwide delivery for smaller e-tailers and helps them set up virtual call centers to deal with customers. At the same time, it’s changing the way it charges merchants. Until last year, Yandex.market made most of its money from small click fees—as little as 3 rubles (4¢)—when search results directed customers to a site. Now it takes a commission of 1 percent on orders made via the marketplace. That’s far below the 6 percent to 20 percent Amazon charges, though Yandex says the price is aimed at attracting more merchants and will likely rise.
E- commerce is growing fast in Russia, despite a recession. Yandex. Market’s revenue jumped 55 percent in the first quarter, the first period for which its parent reported separate results for the unit, and the business accounted for 6.3 percent of total sales. The company is Russia’s biggest e-tailer, with about 10 percent of the country’s e- commerce market, which last year climbed 16 percent, to 650 billion rubles ($10 billion), researcher Data Insight estimates.
Instead of humans, Vium uses tiny sensors and high-definition cameras to observe lab mice