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!

Yandex Advancing E-Commerce in Russia with Two New Platforms

Almost 20 years ago in 2000, Yandex launched its first group of services beyond search and search advertising.  In addition to news and email offerings, we introduced our first products designed to help users find goods sold online and in stores.  In 2002, we officially launched our comparison shopping platform Yandex.Market, offering books, films, cosmetics, footwear, clothing, stationery, and toys from 150 e-commerce sites.  Today, Yandex.Market serves over 20 million monthly users, offering them over 160 million goods from over 21,000 sites.

For eighteen years now, Yandex has grown this e-commerce platform and led the way in helping Russian consumers to adopt online shopping.  Through our advances in machine learning, specifically our recommendation and search technologies, we have improved our services’ capabilities and developed many new features to enrich the experience for both shoppers and retailers.  Today we are excited to highlight our next steps for advancing the online shopping experience in Russia, using the experience we’ve gained from operating Yandex.Market.

While we will continue to offer a comparison shopping engine, we now also provide an online marketplace, Beru (in Russian), or “I’ll take it.”  With Beru, shoppers can make purchases from multiple categories on one platform and rely on smooth delivery and logistics.  Today, Yandex also announced Bringly (in Russian), an e-commerce platform that is dedicated to enhancing cross-border shopping for Russian consumers.

Yandex and Sberbank have been operating the Beru platform in beta since June 2018, fulfilling over 180,000 orders.  Two weeks ago, Beru was officially launched to the Russian market, featuring over 1,000 retailers and 600 shopping categories from household appliances to cosmetics.  During the testing period, Beru also added new categories including grocery that features dry goods and pharmacy that enables shoppers to order medications for in-store pick-up from over 10,000 participating pharmacies.

To provide more reliable and affordable shipping options across Russia, Beru orders are processed and delivered from a Moscow-based fulfillment center.  Beru offers next day delivery in Moscow and improves the delivery experience to the far regions of Russia, which have traditionally had longer wait times and higher shipping costs.  

Beru's Moscow fulfillment center

While Beru provides a leading e-commerce platform for goods delivered within Russia, Bringly will help cater to the growing cross-border e-commerce market, improving logistics and delivery times.  Bringly offers shoppers over four million products from the world’s most popular brands, such as clothing and footwear by Koton, LTB Jeans, and Lumberjack, as well as Korean beauty products and niche products, such as shock and water-resistant smartphones from Chinese brands like Cubot and Nomu.

Bringly will house the site’s most popular goods in a Latvia-based warehouse to expedite shipping.  The cost of shipping varies depending on the location of the retailer.  For instance, Bringly offers free delivery for all goods purchased from Turkey, China or Latvia.  Customers can also opt to use standard or express delivery by Russian Post.

“The Russian e-commerce market is still developing and has incredible potential for both domestic goods and cross-border sales," says Maxim Grishakov, CEO of Yandex.Market.  "While the e-commerce market continues to grow, there are still many areas for improvement to make the online shopping process better for users.  With Beru, Yandex is using its technological developments to create a greater e-commerce experience. Through Bringly, we are excited to be providing users with even more options by delivering goods directly to consumers, as two in three Russians make cross-border purchases online.” 

These two new e-commerce platforms will be added to Yandex.Market, which yielded 71% growth in Q3 2018 compared to 2017, to offer a comprehensive online shopping experience for Russian consumers and retailers.  We are excited to introduce customers to a new, efficient shopping experience as we expand our logistics capabilities to offer even more categories and goods.

Yandex.Market Helps International Retailers Reach Russian Consumers

Russian online consumers are avid cross-border shoppers, and this trend is growing. According to a survey conducted by a market research firm GFK, about half of web shoppers in Russia made at least one purchase from an online retailer in EU, China or US last year, up from 36% in 2013.


Source: GfK, August-September 2014

While the most popular shopping destinations are traditionally the online market giants - AlibabaExpress and eBay - the niche for smaller businesses accepting payments from Russia and delivering shipments to this country is quickly expanding. Yandex.Market, a leading comparison shopping service, is in a position to accommodate the needs of international retailers wishing to sell their products to Russian customers by utilising all the benefits of a technologically advanced platform with over 16,000 stores, 68 million product offers and 22.3 million unique visitors per month (December 2014, comScore Media Metrix).

Now, international web stores have an opportunity to showcase their offers on Yandex.Market to target those customers who look to buy products specifically outside of Russia. Product search on Yandex.Market is designed to deliver the most relevant results with the best combination of customer service criteria, including time of delivery or specific payment options. This automatically gives domestic retailers an edge over international companies who are often limited in their customer service opportunities in Russia. Cross-border shoppers, however, are prepared to put up with longer delivery times or inconvenient payment methods for the sake of unique product selection or better price. They can now filter product offers from international stores from the millions of items available on Yandex.Market to instantly see them on top of other search results – including price in roubles, delivery options and a link to full product information.

According to GfK, product categories most popular with Russian consumers are clothing, makeup products, perfume, accessories and products for children and babies. International product offers in these categories are currently available on Yandex.Market and soon will be expanding to add new groups, which continuously grow in popularity, such as consumer electronics and gadgets from Chinese retailers, for instance.

Any online store anywhere in the world can join Yandex.Market by providing customers with a landing page in Russian, an opportunity to have their purchase delivered to a Russian address, as well as an opportunity to pay for purchases in Russia via a bankcard or electronic money. International retailers will soon be able to benefit from a universal payment solution provided by Yandex, which will allow web stores outside of Russia to receive payments from Russian customers regardless of their method.

Dozens of retailers, including UK's, China's LightInTheBox, Germany's, a US website, and Italian Yoox, are already offering their products to Russian consumers via Yandex.Market, and with the new functionality their number is expected to grow.

Yandex Invests in Logistics Services Software Provider

Russia's ecommerce is booming. The country’s online retail made up $12 billion in 2012 and accounted for 1.9% of the total retail trade in the country, according to Morgan Stanley. The global financial services firm has also reported that 48% of Russian internet shoppers started making online purchases in the last two years, and forecasted that internet purchases would make up 4.5% of all retail sales by 2015.

This growth rate, however, might have been even higher, had one of the major problems deterring the country's ecommerce had been resolved – the problem of delivering a purchase across a distance of more than 30-50km, or, ideally, across all nine time zones. This is what head of Ozon, one of Russia’s largest online retailers, was talking about almost a year ago. This is what the European and Chinese retailers are talking about when we approach them with offers from our comparison shopping service, Yandex.Market – the largest ecommerce platform in Russia at the moment.

We have working business solutions and a fantastically loyal audience to offer, but few foreign enterprises are fearless enough to take the plunge without a ready-made, smoothly running distribution system. Most international retailers embark on their journey in Russia with a small outlet in one of the capitals, or start with selling their goods through a local authorised retailer. Everyone, at the same time, understands that a mere fact of having a convenient and reliable method of delivering goods across the vast territories of Russia would have significantly improved the country's attractiveness in the eyes of international electronic merchants.

To meet the growing demand for quality logistics, Yandex has partnered with a Russian aggregator of logistics services, MultiShip, which gives online stores an opportunity to quickly and easily set up and offer their clients a convenient and trackable delivery service across Russia. The users of Yandex's comparison shopping system, Yandex.Market, will soon be able not only to choose products offered by participating retailers, but also select the best delivery method at the best price offered by the most relevant logistics company partnering with MultiShip. Powered by MultiShip’s technology, Yandex.Market will be able to help the user make their choice by calculating the best offer based on cost, time and other terms and conditions of delivery.

The delivery information will be seamlessly built into the purchase-making process, so that the user won't have to worry about third-party logistics. Now online shoppers in, say, Novosibirsk, will be able to choose on Yandex.Market not only from goods available in the local internet outlets, but also from a full range of products in online stores based in, say, Saint Petersburg. By taking on the role of a 'single entry point', MultiShip, in its turn, makes it easier for online stores to join the logistics services aggregator, and, by doing so, expands its coverage. It takes only a few days for a retailer to join the aggregator and get access to the services of all participating delivery companies, in contrast to up to two months to plug into just one logistics service via API. Currently, MultiShip collaborates with Russia's leading logistics players, including Axiomus, B2Cpl, Boxberry, CDEK, Maxima Express, PickPoint, Pony Express, QIWI Post, and CourierServiceExpress – and welcomes new partners to join. All of these companies make up a logistics network, which covers the whole of Russia and facilitates the delivery of orders to more than 40,000 cities and towns, services more than 2,000 collection points (including automated parcel collection points) and delivers goods for Russian Post (through one of its partners).

According to the agreement, Yandex is purchasing MultiShip’s technologies and software for $1m and investing a further few million into the company's development and business expansion. MultiShip’s software engineers are joining the Yandex team to help the company develop new products and services for internet stores.

Yandex.Market is Russia’s largest ecommerce comparison shopping platform, which allows shoppers to choose products, services or retailers online, while online stores can enjoy an opportunity to list their products on a popular product search website with a smart and user-friendly interface.

During the thirteen years of its life, Yandex.Market has grown into a standard-defining player on Russia’s ecommerce market. The service’s ranking system for stores and products based on customer feedback, alongside the detailed product and seller information, shopping tips, rigorous content verification and moderation, turned Yandex.Market into the force that brought order, transparency and security to Russia’s ecommerce.

Yandex.Market currently features more than 14,000 online stores with more than 53,000,000 product offers available to customers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. According to comScore MediaMetrix, more than 18 million shoppers across many countries choose products on Yandex.Market every month.

In addition to setting market standards in Russia, the service also has always been the first to adopt and introduce global trends, such as a more efficient cost-per-action business model. Or, a single checkout for multiple purchases in multiple stores. The interests of online customers and partners have always been key for Yandex.Market, whose primary aim is to facilitate internet experience for end-users and support the burgeoning ecommerce market in Russia.