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Many retailers and pure-plays have expanded into Russia despite some difficulties stemming from changes to import laws.

I’ve previously shared some detail on Russian ecommerce, and the Econsultancy Russia Digital Market Landscape report is well worth a look.

In this post I thought I’d offer some thoughts on search in Russia, shared with me by Hannes Ben, EVP International at Forward3D and founder of Locaria.

Fashion is growing quickly in Russia, with a 42% year on year increase in revenue across clothing, shoes and accessories. In turn, the SEM strategies of these retailers have to be adapted.

So what are the challenges and opportunities of search in Russia?

There are a number of challenges to entering the Russian search market. From understanding the different engagement levels between Google and Yandex to understanding web infrastructure.

Hannes’ top six challenges & opportunities for Search Engine Marketing in Russia:

1. Delivery messaging in search

Local Russian retailers offer a wide variety of delivery options uncommon in other European countries and North America, including cash on delivery, free next day delivery, try before you buy.

Managing delivery expectations through paid and natural search ad copy is important to avoid spending sizeable marketing budget on keywords only for customers to shun the delivery method and resort to local retailers.

asos in russian

2. Delivery to remote locations

On the flipside of challenge number one, consumers in relatively remote locations have lower expectations for delivery options. This is an opportunity for foreign retailers to compete more effectively. St Petersburg and Moscow covers around 30% of revenue from the fashion vertical, so there is a lot of potential outside of these major cities.

3. Competition on your brand terms

Yandex is much less stringent than Google when it comes to editorial policies on ad copy and trademark coverage. This means brand bidding, cost-per-click (CPC) inflation and other retailers or affiliates directly mentioning you in their ads. This can increase costs as much as double those on Google for brand terms in Locaria’s experience.

google russia

4. Varying internet speeds

Some locations suffer from slow internet speeds, which in turn negatively impacts conversion rates. This can impact conversion rates by up to 20%. This kind of insight, when tracked on a regular basis can provide support for wider geographic optimisation of SEM activity.

5. Yandex Marketplace

A considerable opportunity for all retailers operating in the Russian market. Marketplace has contributed to 10% incremental uplift on total revenue for Locaria clients, and conversion rates can be 30% higher than on Google Shopping.

6. Social is influential

Russians spend more than double the amount of time on social platforms than the rest of the world – 9.8 hours as opposed to the average 4.5 hours elsewhere. Developing a social presence for a multinational retailer in Russia is a key tactic for connecting with a target audience. VK (VKontakte, pictured below) has 239 million accounts and this can help support the growth of clients’ brands in the market.

vk social network screenshot 

Ben Davis

Published 3 March, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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