Yandex Blog

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!

How Yandex is Responding to Help During COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 is upending the lives of billions of people around the world. This situation has called on individuals and organizations across the globe to do their part to help communities everywhere. Now more than ever, people are turning to connected, intelligent services to help them overcome this uncertain time. Here at Yandex, we’re working to adapt our tools that help consumers and businesses navigate the online and offline world for the current reality. Even as our community of over 10,000 team members transitions to working from home, we’re diligently working on finding solutions that will help people during these challenging times. 

Yandex Information and Tools on COVID-19

Access to accurate and reliable information is key to how people tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. As one of the top global search engines, Yandex is committed to ensuring we can help provide users with useful and accurate information. 

We’ve created a simple, easy to understand platform for all things related to the coronavirus. When searching for “coronavirus” or related keywords on Yandex.ru, our search page presents users with a panel summarizing all information on the virus in one place. The coronavirus dashboard includes symptoms, how to protect one’s self and others, statistics on the outbreak, the latest news, and more. 

We’ve included a series of recommendations from the World Health Organization, and we also present expert responses to commonly asked questions via our Yandex.Q community question-and-answer service. The blue concentric circles are an easy way for users to identify the information we’ve verified with health experts, including the WHO, Russia’s Ministry of Health, doctors, and more.  

Our mapping team introduced a map for Russian speakers that will help them better track the COVID-19 outbreak globally. The map includes statistics within cities and regions to help users remain informed of the cases in their local communities, as well as cases in other countries. We source information for the map from a variety of sources, including the WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, China’s National Health Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and more. 

We are also working on integrating our coronavirus search portal within Alice, our intelligent assistant.

Online Education Tools

Beginning on March 30th, we are adding remote learning tools to Yandex.Textbook, our free online education platform currently used by 22,000 primary schools across Russia. Teachers can hold live sessions, post homework assignments, and receive feedback from students. Students and teachers will be able to communicate with one another via chat and voice messages.  

In collaboration with the Center for Pedagogical Excellence, we will also launch a fully online, freely available school for students in grades 5-11. Teachers will conduct lessons via our streaming services and Yandex.Tutor, an online task management service for courses. Some of Moscow's leading teachers will teach the classes using curriculums based on national standardized exams. To best replicate families' typical school-year schedules, we will host the lessons during normal school hours.

Our new distance education options join existing remote learning initiatives, such as our Coursera specialisations in machine learning. We encourage everyone to continue to rely on online learning tools throughout this period.   

Yandex Mobility Services Safety and Updates

Beyond providing trusted information, we've also taken steps across our mobility products and services to better serve people impacted by COVID-19 and prevent the spread of the virus. As day-to-day life adapts to the new realities imposed by the coronavirus outbreak, there's been an increase in demand for courier-delivered goods. Yandex is proud to provide these services and retool them for higher demand, but we're also taking steps to ensure the safety of our couriers and users. Some of the actions we're taking to adjust our services to the current environment include:

 Sanitizing

  • Yandex.Taxi is taking steps to minimize the spread of contagions, like encouraging the use of cashless payments only, establishing stricter cleaning guidelines for drivers, and setting up central cleaning locations for vehicles in certain cities.
  • Cleaning staff for our car-sharing service, Yandex.Drive, are more thoroughly cleaning vehicles with extra strength, antiseptic disinfectant. 
  • We are supplying Yandex.Drive vehicles with antiseptic wipes. 
  • Within Yandex Self-Driving, we're using disinfectant to clean our autonomous vehicles.

 Safety for Drivers and Couriers

  • We've established a fund to support drivers and couriers affected by COVID-19 across Yandex.Taxi, Yandex.Eats, and Yandex.Lavka, our grocery delivery service. The fund will support those who contract COVID-19 and drivers who are in contact with an infected person and must self-quarantine. 
  • Guidance on the safe delivery of food and driving for couriers and drivers, along with quizzes and regular updates as the situation evolves.
  • Couriers can access cleaning materials in support offices.
  • We’ve set up locations in Moscow where drivers can undergo a medical check before beginning their shift, including measuring temperature, blood pressure, and a telemedicine chat with a doctor.

Delivery Service Updates

  • Yandex.Taxi will soon begin delivering over-the-counter medications from pharmacies with the recent introduction of legislation to enable this.
  • Yandex.Eats has simplified the procedure for restaurants to join the service.

Yandex Online Entertainment to Pass the Time During COVID-19

Besides the above changes, we’re happy to continue offering free services that can help people find ways to enjoy their time at home more.  Our streaming service provides series, movies, live TV,, and cartoons in addition to sports and cultural programs. Users can also listen to a free version of Yandex.Music and interact with Alice to get the latest news, play games, and have some friendly conversation at home.

We understand this is a challenging time for people everywhere, not just among our users and the Yandex community.  We will continue finding ways to adapt our services to best assist people during the coronavirus pandemic, and we are happy to help people through this crisis in whatever ways we can.