Wildberries, the number one Russian ecommerce company, is making its first steps on the US market with dedicated versions of its website and mobile app.
The site’s URL, us.wildberries.ru, betrays its Russian origin, while no US suppliers have been onboarded for the moment, according to Kommersant, a Russian newspaper. Logistics partners, including Canadian company Meest, will help carry our deliveries from Russian warehouses.
The move comes less than three months after Wildberries’ launch in four major European Union markets: France, Italy, Spain and Germany. The Russian ecommerce company also operates in Poland (since January 2020), Slovakia (since May 2020) and Israel (since December 2020).
In addition to Russia, its home market, Wildberries also serves several countries of the former Soviet Union: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine (via its Polish subsidiary).
Wildberries reported total sales of more than $6 billion in 2020 (up from $3.3 million in 2019, according to DataInsight). That includes around $423 million generated outside Russia (according to Kommersant).
A rare move by a Russian ecommerce retailer
Wildberries offers a rare example of a Russian online retailer selling outside Russian-speaking countries. While cross-border sales to Russia account for several billions of U.S. dollars every year, Russian ecommerce majors have focused on their domestic market so far.
Among the exceptions is Ozon, whose products are popular among Russian-speaking communities in the U.S., Israel and other countries. However, Ozon—which had a triumphant NASDAQ IPO in late 2020—has no in-house logistic infrastructure outside Russia.
While focusing mainly on China-to-Russia sales, market leader AliExpress Russia (a joint property of Alibaba, Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and sovereign fund RDIF) also provides Russian merchants with international sales opportunities.
The international successes of JOOM are also noteworthy. This company, whose mobile apps sell Chinese products at cut-rate prices, did not start from Russia, but it was founded in 2016 by Russian entrepreneur Ilya Shirokov. France is among its main markets.
This article first appeared in East-West Digital News, the international online resource on Russian digital industries, and is reprinted with permission.