E-commerce executive sees golden opportunity in China market

The number of Chinese sellers on Russian e-commerce sites has grown rapidly in the past two years, and Chinese products account for a large share of Russia's global import volume.

Ozon, founded in 1998, has become one of Russia's leading e-commerce platforms, with millions of visits per day. It has more than 32.7 million buyers and 180,000 sellers, offering over 150 million products.

"We have created one of the most extensive and well-developed logistics and infrastructure networks in Russia," said Stepan Gusamov, CEO of Ozon Global, the platform's cross-border division. More than half of Russia's population of 146 million is covered by Ozon's delivery or pick-up points in more than 14,000 locations across the country, he added.

His division was established in 2021 as Ozon began to expand its business overseas, focusing in particular on the Chinese market.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Gusamov noted that China is the largest e-commerce market in the world, accounting for 46.3 percent of global retail e-commerce sales.

Considering the great potential, Ozon Global opened an office in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in November, Gusamov said.

"Right now, China is an important partner and the main direction of Ozon Global's international business. Chinese goods currently account for about 95 percent of our total orders. Sales from China also grew rapidly. Based on Ozon's financial report for 2022, the figure is four times higher compared with 2021.

"According to our latest data in February this year, the monthly number of new seller registrations from China increased almost tenfold after we established our China office. We aim to attract no fewer than 100,000 sellers by 2024 to expand the range of products, such as electronics, home appliances, fashion goods and outdoor sports products, in the global storefront," he said.

In 2022, trade between China and Russia grew 29.3 percent year-on-year to a record $190.27 billion.

According to data from China's General Administration of Customs, the trade volume of the two countries last year rose 34.3 percent year-on-year to a record high of 1.28 trillion yuan ($186 billion), marking the first time that bilateral trade has surpassed 1 trillion yuan.

"I believe that the trade volume between the two countries will continue to thrive, especially in the context of online trade," Gusamov said.

E-commerce has great potential in Russia, as its current penetration rate is only about 11 percent, Gusamov said, while in China it has reached 30 percent. Demand among Russian consumers for Chinese-made goods is huge, and this opens a window of opportunity for Chinese foreign trade companies and brands to enter the Russian market.

"That's how we see it's now the best time for Chinese brands and manufacturers to enter the Russian market," Gusamov emphasized.

"Now we have many well-known Chinese brands on Ozon, including Xiaomi, Huawei, Neatsvor, Honor, MSI, Asus and Roborock. In December, we had Li-Ning, 361, Erke, Xtep and Camel for the first time. We see a fast-growing trend among Chinese brands to include the Russian market and Ozon Global in their business plan for the new year," he said.

In order to provide Chinese sellers with better services, the Russian company has launched Ozon Global Partner Delivery to ensure fast and stable delivery of goods from China to Russia, which has cut delivery times in half, he added.