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EBay opens up to Russian sellers

0 28 May 2014

The world's largest internet auction site eBay will soon open up for Russian sellers, head of eBay's Russian office Vladimir Dolgov has revealed to oborot.ru. From September of this year, the opportunity to sell via the site will be available to any legal entity, individual entrepreneur or other form of organisation in Russia.

Sellers will be able to choose from the options of trading only within Russia or to other countries as well. The price can be shown in russian roubles for native buyers as well as in dollars or euros. Ordinary post and various courier services will be among the delivery services offered abroad and in Russia and on the occasion that the buyer and seller live in the same city, there will also be the option of home collection.

All transactions will be carried out via eBay's own payment system, PayPal. In order to start selling, the user will have to create an account with PayPal and then with eBay. The payment system will allow users to store money of different currencies in their account and it will also be possible to withdraw money from PayPal accounts in high street banks.

Before selling abroad, eBay will provide all necessary documents for VAT return. “Reporting documentation is a principally new part of the job, and something which eBay has never had to deal with before. This has been one of the most difficult parts of 'opening up' the auction for Russian sellers,” admits Dolgov. He has observed however, that Russian shops are already expressing an interest in eBay as a potential trading platform.

General director of Wikimart, Maxim Faldin has also confirmed this. Competition from the auction site doesn't worry him- between the two different platforms, he admits there are "crossovers within electronics, but realistically electronics can be sold by anyone.” On the contrary, Faldin has revealed that Wikimart is already working closely with eBay. The marketplace plans to act as a mediating provider for those partners who also want to connect with eBay as an additional sales channel.

At the same time, Faldin doesn't believe that there will be a big demand for Russian products abroad.

“There are souvenirs and collectable items, for example, old photos and radios,” Dolgov elaborates, “These could be in demand from foreign collectors. But this is not a mass market.”

Even as an 'interior' Russian marketplace, eBay will have to compete with the older, 'home-grown' Yandex.Market. Cofounder of DataInsight, Boris Ovchinnikov doesn't believe that the attempt is necessarily “doomed for failure”, but stresses that “a change of image” will be necessary for the internet auction's success.

“These days people go to eBay with the hope of buying things that aren't sold in Russia, in search of the most 'long tail', or rarest items. I don't know how far eBay will be able to promote the idea that you can buy here whatever you can buy abroad for the same price, but with much quicker delivery,” muses the expert. In Ovchinnikov's opinion, there may be a foreign demand for niche Russian products such as designer clothes and handmade goods, valued for their individuality.

Yandex.Market are also not worried about facing competition from the the American internet auction giant. “At the moment, Yandex.Market and eBay occupy different positions physically as well as as in the minds of their users. Yandex.Market is primarily a service which allows the user to search for and order products from online shops. Each shop undergoes a test when first connected as well as regular quality checks on their offers. The advantage of eBay is its easy access to a range of products from all over the world.” says Alexander Feoktistov, manager of marketing group Yandex.Market.

According to Feoktistov, Yandex.Market's overseas audience share is distinctly underwhelming. It mainly consists of those interested in Russian language books and films which are difficult to buy in other countries.

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