Twelve major Russian online retailers have founded the ‘Association of Internet Commerce Companies’ (AKIT in Russian), with the aim of combating market opacity and distortions as well as of “guaranteeing users’ security and trust.”

The association has opened hostilities against ‘gray’ e-retailers, those who avoid taxes in order to sell cheaper and maximize their profits. A significant part of Russian online retail goes through a gray market of unofficial schemes of varying scale, from individual practices to large-volume gray business ventures.

Among the most commonly affected segments are mobile devices and other consumer electronics, fashion items, children’s goods, cosmetics and perfumes, and jewelry, reveals a research study by East-West Digital News to be released soon.

AKIT will also seek to reduce the influence of search engines, including , primarily, Yandex and its marketplace, which tend to “define users’ attitude to e-commerce.”

Hostilities – or cooperation?

“This attitude is not defined by the market operators themselves, those who run e-commerce sites and deliver orders. It suffices to drop a couple of negative reviews on Yandex and the consequences may be serious” for given e-commerce sites or their offers, said Enter.ru General Manager Sergey Rumyantsev, who was elected president of the association.

“It is not normal that one search engine, even the biggest one [Yandex], should have such an influence. The role of Yandex, Google, and other search engines should be to deliver objective information.”

The association will aim to open “an alternative information space,” Rumyantsev said. AKIT will specify standards on delivery, return policies, and payment methods, while a special ‘seal of quality’ label will be used to raise user trust.

AKIT does not rule out potential cooperation with Yandex to share the same label.

AKIT’s founding members are Avrisa, Biely Veter, Detsky Mir, Eldorado, Enter.ru, KupiVip.ru, Mallstreet.ru, Media Markt-Saturn, M.Video, Philips, Utinet.ru, and Wikimart.ru, as well as X5 Retail’s online subsidiary E5.ru.

Source: AKIT, Interfax

  • RUSSIAN E-COMMERCE REPORT 2012 – The total volume of Russian online retail reached 310 billion rubles, a little more than $10 billion, in 2011, up 25% from the previous year. EWDN’s research study of Russian e-commerce, which contains an analysis of the issues discussed in this story, will be available soon. To receive free insights or to order the full version, please contact us at editor@ewdn.com.