Tatarstan to launch state programme to bring entrepreneurs to marketplaces

The republican authorities see the potential in the digitalisation of retail and the development of e-commerce

The E-Commerce Centre created in Tatarstan has been tasked with bringing 700 Tatarstan companies to the first online sale. Now, in terms of e-commerce, the republic ranks the 1st in the Volga Federal District and the 2nd in Russia after Moscow and Moscow Oblast. Over the past year, the number of sellers on the marketplaces has increased 10 times — up to 5,000. The pandemic also contributed to the growth of indicators, when people preferred to shop from home. However, for the successful development of e-commerce in Tatarstan, there is not enough infrastructure. Business Ombudsman Farid Abdulganiev promised that the new programme will include various measures to support businesses. Major marketplaces have also announced their preferences, including Ozon, which opened a logistics centre in the Zelenodolsk district.

Not to work four times more, but to get two times less

Tatarstan has a great potential for the development of online commerce. Now, the republic ranks the 1st in the Volga Federal District and the 2nd in Russia after Moscow and Moscow Oblast in terms of e-commerce. This is facilitated by various factors, for example, 77% of households in the region are provided with high-speed Internet access, or the number of sellers on marketplaces has increased 10 times over the past year. Now it is already 5,000 Tatarstan suppliers, whose revenue amounted to about 5 billion rubles.

“Is it much or little? If we take the retail trade turnover — a little less than 1 trillion rubles, then against this background, the figures speak for themselves," said Business Ombudsman Farid Abdulganiev.

In November 2020, at the traditional meeting of the president of Tatarstan with businesses, one entrepreneur said that he would like to enter the marketplace, but for this, it is necessary to “de-bureaucratise the system”. The republican authorities seriously thought about this, a working group was created, which included four ministers and the head of Ak Bars Bank, it was headed by Abdulganiev. Since March 1, the E-Commerce Centre, which is known as Marketplace.Legko. This is a non-profit organisation that provides free services to entrepreneurs. On March 15, it became a technology partner of Ozon.

“The technology partner has such requirements — onboarding (the process of familiarising the user with the product — editor's note), it must be done in less than 40 days. If it is more — then it is an additional cost for the marketplace. Our first attempt was quite successful — it was done in 10 days. But we believe that it can be done faster. We have experience when we did it in a matter of hours," the business ombudsman presented the capacities of the new organisation.

The nearest task assigned to the E-Commerce Centre is to register and bring 700 Tatarstan companies to the first sale. It is online stores that will help solve the problem of stagnation of sales, which is painful for entrepreneurs, about which they complain: “We work four times more, but we get two times less.”

Besides, a republican programme for bringing entrepreneurs to online platforms is currently being developed, which will include various measures to support businesses. Abdulganiev took note of the first proposals — from the company Avalon-Production — about subsidising the delivery of goods from the budget to the buyer and the entrepreneur, who introduced himself as Rustem, about helping to enter the world marketplaces. Moreover, there is an inspiring example of a resident of Kazan, who, while here, brought European sellers to European markets.

The problem is the lack of infrastructure

However, for the successful development of e-commerce in Tatarstan, there is not enough infrastructure. For example, there is no production centre in Kazan. This is a studio where you can conduct pre-sale preparation of the product — take a picture of it, describe it beautifully, make a video, etc. Abdulganiev said that he recently visited the production studio of the company Lamoda. It occupies an area of 3,100 square metres and consists of 12 studios, where only outerwear is photographed with the participation of models.

There are also no partner centres (3 PL-centres) where entrepreneurs could leave their goods, specialists pack them correctly, take them to the warehouse, put them on sale, and then provide them with a sales analyst. In short, there is still something to work on to ensure the growth of online trading.

E-commerce market in Tatarstan annually grows by a third

Rustem Kasimov, the regional director of Ozon in the Volga Region, stressed that Tatarstan is the most active region for online shopping for the company. According to the Association of E-Commerce Companies (AKIT), the e-commerce market in the republic grows by at least 30% annually. By the results of 2020, its turnover amounted to 67 billion rubles, and the share of online in the total retail volume has already reached 7% (a year earlier, it was 5%). If earlier residents of the republic ordered mainly digital equipment, food products, clothing and shoes, then since last year there are products of different categories in one order. On Ozon alone in 2020, Tatarstan citizens bought three times more goods than a year earlier, or made 189% more orders (for the company as a whole — 132%) in the amount of more than 4,8 billion rubles.

Rustem Kasimov noted that the growth is in all categories of goods. But, for example, jewelry shows an 8-fold rise — in particular, after the products made of precious metals were legally allowed to be sold remotely at the end of 2019. Tatarstan citizens are also interested in purchasing furniture and other large-sized goods.

The speaker stressed that purchases are becoming more rational: people want exclusive offers, promotions, discounts, cashbacks. As a result, interest in the company's fintech products is growing. In particular, applications for the issue of Ozon cards doubled in a month, although this is also due to that since December they have become digital.

Additional sales channel

Kasimov said that the marketplace for entrepreneurs is an additional sales channel that removes the barriers of offline marketing. Last year, he became a lifesaver in the face of the pandemic. Entrepreneurs from Tatarstan also appreciated this. Last year, the number of active sellers on the site increased more than nine times — to 500, and the turnover increased 17 times, amounting to 1,2 billion rubles.

To attract new suppliers, the commission for the sale of goods was reduced, and a couple of days ago, suppliers had the opportunity to choose how their order would be delivered to the buyer. This can be self-delivery, by Ozon itself, other logistics companies, or by Russian Post.

“This is a very important option, we have been working towards this for months. Now our seller can not only not store the goods in our warehouse, but also not use our services if another logistics operator provides a different service to him, or he wants to do it independently — even within the same city," said the regional director, hoping that such variability will attract sellers of those categories of goods that have not previously used the site — furniture, flowers, sports equipment that requires customisation, etc.

Another opportunity for cooperation with entrepreneurs is the opening of the company's pick-up points. Last year, in Tatarstan, their number increased 2,7 times and more than half were opened by the company's partners who believed in this business. Kasimov noted that the company provides them with various support measures, provides them with free advertising materials and signs.

In the near future, the grand opening of the fulfillment centre in the Zelenodolsk district will take place, but already now it accepts goods from Tatarstan entrepreneurs, packs and sends them across Russia and abroad.

Apartment — from the marketplace?

The business breakfast was attended by entrepreneurs who shared their experience of online sales. In particular, the director of the Bizikvest company, Valeria Ladanova, stressed that the increase in sales was largely due to the pandemic, thanks to which people learned to order goods through marketplaces.

Bizikvest is also a business angel for other sellers — it helps them to get product cards, advises on shipping and provides other services. In particular, last year the company brought 600 entrepreneurs to Ozon, 200 of whom are successfully selling their products. Ladanova noted how the views of the business community have changed over the year: if in 2020 they only heard about the marketplace, then this year everyone wants to sell there and is ready to increase the advertising budget for sales growth.

A great help is the opening of the logistics centre in Novaya Tura, because previously it was necessary to ship goods to Tver. “This has greatly reduced the cost of logistics and as a given — more sellers want to enter the site," said Ladanova.

Almaz Gabidullin, the head of the Kiez company in Kukmor, which produces felt boots, noted that if earlier the sales season ended on December 31, then after entering the marketplace, he sells the product from August to the end of April, as it is in demand in those regions of Russia where the winter lasts not 3 months.

It is possible that in the future, non-traditional goods such as apartments will appear on marketplaces. The same Ozon, for example, last year began to sell cars remotely. Commercial Director of the company #SuvarStroit Elvira Galyautdinova noted that this is the trend of the future, but in connection with the coronavirus, the real estate market “stepped forward”. Already today, the number of buyers who do not want to go to the office and conduct remote transactions for the purchase of housing has increased.

By Eleanora Rylova. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

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