Fighting Price Gouging and Meeting Ecommerce Demand During COVID-19
As COVID-19 spreads, the uncertain situation has led many people to rush out and stock up on essential goods. Since this results in shortages and empty shelves, people are increasingly having trouble finding staple goods. With additional stay home orders in place, online shopping has become an even more critical service for users.
As a major eCommerce provider in Russia, we have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that everyone who needs essential goods can find them. Between our two platforms, Yandex.Market and Beru, we serve a daily audience of more than five million people.
To help fairly spread resources to these people, we have implemented new policies to limit shortages and prevent price gouging by third-party sellers. Since our two platforms run independently, we have introduced different policies on each platform.
Yandex.Market Updates for COVID-19
Yandex.Market, our eCommerce marketplace platform, is more carefully monitoring prices and the assortment of goods in specific product categories. Sanitizers, medical masks, cereal, canned goods, and hygiene products are in especially high-demand right now and have been for some weeks.
Within these categories, the Yandex.Market algorithm monitors the price charts and can detect any dramatic price increase (twice or more). We will temporarily disable a merchant if we find at least one product with an inflated price. Over the past week, we deactivated 300 stores that sold products at inflated prices. After deleting the entire assortment of goods with inflated prices, a store can reinstate its operation on our platform.
At the same time, we appreciate there is a lot of pressure on stores right now, so we have adapted our quality control measures to keep the products moving efficiently. Among other changes, we have suspended our regular shopping cart checks and only check in some instances, such as when we receive a signal that the store is not operational.
To increase safety for customers and couriers, we are also promoting certain measures to minimize the spread of the virus when receiving online orders. In Russia, cash on delivery (COD) to the courier and other in-person exchanges at pickup centers are typical eCommerce practices. We are encouraging users to pay for their items via contactless payment methods and choose other shipping options. We also suggest customers carefully wash their hands after handling their packages.
Beru Updates for COVID-19
With Beru, our end-to-end marketplace that we run with Sberbank, our team is also committed to ensuring a steady supply of staple goods at fair prices. The Beru team set a maximum price for certain product categories and will only display products that are priced accordingly. Categories such as groceries, canned goods, hygiene products, and household cleaners will remain at fixed prices for the foreseeable future.
On top of our efforts to keep Beru products at reasonable prices, we are doing everything possible to deliver goods to our users’ homes on time and have strengthened our delivery capacity. To reduce the likelihood of physical contact, we also added the option for users to have couriers leave prepaid orders at their door.
We have also taken a number of additional steps to help our partner stores on Beru. We improved the process for integrating new merchants onto the platform so that we can more quickly respond to high demand. We limited our merchant suspension policies only to cover extreme violations such as counterfeiting and price gouging. We are also enabling more flexible shipment time (from two days to three) for our partner retailers who operate through drop shipping.
While the majority of our office team members are working from home, we are committed to helping people and are working around the clock to support our community. Special thanks to our team members in logistics centers, as well as couriers who continue to bravely navigate cities during the COVID-19 outbreak!
Take care of yourself and your loved ones!