Russia’s leading online shoe retailer Sapato.ru announced today that it has raised $12 million in a third round of financing. Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment fund, led the investment round along with earlier investors in the project – Direct Group, a Western investment company operating in Moscow through its incubator FastLane, eVenture Capital Partners, the venture investment branch of the Otto Group, and Kinnevik, a diversified Swedish holding founded in 1936.

Sapato.ru, launched in June 2010, closed a $5 million second round of financing in November 2010 and now, including capital raised in the third round, the startup’s total financing stands at $20 million.

The bulk of the new funds will be used for “expanding the assortment range and for strengthening the CRM platform that will help to improve customer service,” says Sapato.ru. Another portion will be spent on marketing.

In May 2011 the number of active customers reached 100,000 with over 75,000 orders shipped and a monthly turnover in excess of $2.8 million, says the company. The e-shop has more than 5700 models of shoes and accessories from over 200 brands for men, women and children.

“The Russian e-commerce segment is one of the fastest growing in the world and online footwear retail is a proven business model,” said Marcin Hejka, Intel Capital’s Managing Director for Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia.

Russia’s online footwear market was recently estimated to have a potential of at least €100 – 150 million. The market dynamics are undergoing rapid transformation, however, following the initiatives of a number of major players.

At the beginning of this year the Otto Group, a leading global distance sales group with a strong presence in Russia, launched Promenad.ru.

LaModa.ru, launched in February 2011, came to the market with the support of prominent European investors including the Tengelmann Group, Holtzbrinck Ventures and Kinnevik, a well as Rocket Internet, a developer of online businesses.

More recently Ozon.ru, the leading Russian e-commerce site – often referred to as “the Russian Amazon.com,” – launched a new section dedicated to shoes.

Among other sites specialized in footwear are Bagsandshoes.ru and Online-obuv.ru, both launched in 2010.