An Ama­zon Wannabe Rises On the Steppes

In­ter­net ▶ Af­ter beat­ing Google, Rus­sia’s Yan­dex tar­gets e-com­merce ▶ “Shops now pay for con­crete trans­ac­tions”

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Politics/ Policy -

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

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