Play a simple game - find out which countries, according to others, are economically developed, ask this question to relatives, colleagues, those around you. I am sure you will be amazed at the answers and their diversity. It so happened that Western countries are by default considered the most technologically advanced, and the United States has long elevated such a leader in technology to the pedestal. Some deserve it, some don't. At the same time, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of Japan, are perceived as standing at about the same level of development as Russia. Maybe this is due to more frequent contacts with China and the Chinese and other peoples of the region, maybe because their mentality is closer to us, I don’t know. How can one not remember Blok with his lines “Yes, we are Scythians! Yes, we are Asians, with slanted and greedy eyes!”.

But the fact remains that we are not in a hurry to adopt American experience even in the field of the Internet and trade. Most businessmen are wary of this experience, because they believe, and quite rightly, that the environment in our countries, the substrate for technology, has a completely different context. It is impossible to transfer many technologies from the United States to Russian soil, not because of technical aspects, but rather because of different mentality, behavioral schemes, and similar barriers. At the same time, when this experience is taking root in China, they are trying to adopt it and carry it to our penates with redoubled zeal. Usually these are completely different people - it so happened that there are not so many businessmen oriented both to the West and to the East in our country, as a rule, each has his own direction and specialization. In the broad sense of the word.

In a philosophical sense, record sales over the Internet in the United States do not surprise us at all. This information is annually superimposed on previous knowledge that has settled in our heads, and does not in any way encourage us to copy their experience, adopt it and translate it into Russian realities. It is firmly planted in our heads that the gulf between the US and Russia in online trading is catastrophic and it is not worth trying to transfer their experience. Rare successes, when something rethought is transferred to Runet and it gives its shoots, only confirm this observation. Other living conditions.

Even the Russian Amazon with the consonant name Ozone has been unprofitable for many years in a row, waiting for huge profits in some distant future. If in 2012 Ozon had a revenue of 6.4 billion rubles, and a loss of 610 million, then in 2013 it increased its revenue to 7.4 billion rubles, but the loss was almost fixed at the level of 619.7 million rubles (data from the SPARK database). It has always remained a mystery to me how a company can exist for many years, which is so consistently losing money, but gets out by attracting new investors. However, this is not an isolated example for Russian online and, unfortunately, quite typical.

Perhaps the example of Ozon was important to show how a pioneering company that adopted the American experience feels. It should be noted that it does not feel very good, and it has long been surpassed in sales by younger competitors that have concentrated in their niches. The first place in the online trading market is occupied by Ulmart, followed by the Merlion retail project, Citilink. You can read a rather curious, but not entirely accurate rating from Forbes here.

It must be admitted that it did not work out in Russia to create its own Amazon, even a copy of Alibaba did not work out, but there are many reasons for this. Before moving on to them, I want to dwell on another aspect - the Chinese experience is often perceived in Russia as a guide to action, and many companies are willing to try it on themselves.

And in the last year, very good news has been heard from China, let's list only a number of headlines that can be read in the Russian press and on websites:

  • Record sales of Xiaomi M4 by pre-order, all devices bought in 37 seconds
  • More than one million HTC Desire 816 orders in China
  • More than a million pre-orders for Nokia X smartphone in China
  • Meizu MX4 reached 700,000 pre-orders in China in 10 days

You can multiply such headlines indefinitely, the fact is that this high-profile "sales" technology was born on the Russian market with the help of Nokia, then it was exported to China. When such messages talk about pre-orders, as a rule, this is not a payment, but just a letter to the manufacturer from the site in which the person expresses a desire to buy the product. You can not buy it and refuse. For example, here is what a pre-order for a Nokia phone in Russia looks like.

With the help of SMM tricks, you can reach any level of pre-orders, the cost of a click and simple actions on the site is minimal. Some companies try to stand out and talk about the time for which they sold out the party, without rightly specifying that it consisted of a hundred pieces or even less. These figures have nothing to do with real sales, but they excite the minds of those who are engaged in business. There is a feeling that soon the Internet will become a significant value in Russia, which means that we need to have time to share this pie. China is perceived as an example of a country from which trade technologies and various tricks can be transferred, with a high probability they will work in Russia as well. But this is not always and not entirely true, in relation to online trading it is not so at all, and here's why.

How the Apple online store works and why this is a unique case

Apple has become one of the pioneers of online trading, on the company's website you can order various equipment and get it at home without any extra charges. Delivery times may vary from country to country, usually taking one to two business days. In Russia, this is about 4 days, which, if the price is equal, makes buying in other places more interesting. But what is typical, the company's online store gives all sorts of "goodies", for example, free engraving on metal surfaces.

Unfortunately, the Russian Apple store is very different from its American counterpart, and this difference is not at all in prices, but in the supply chain. Initially, Apple maintained warehouses in the United States from which goods were sent to customers. As you understand, the cost of maintaining a warehouse should be taken into account in the price of the goods, this is not so noticeable on premium goods, but it is still minus the company's profit. When selling directly to the end consumer, Apple receives all the margin from the device, does not share with intermediaries. And it is always profitable, for any company and anywhere in the world. Now imagine that you remove one more additional link - local warehouses in the country, and immediately send the device from production to the door of the buyer. It sounds very simple, but it is the most difficult logistical and organizational task.

Firstly, you need to have a special sorting warehouse in the factory or nearby. Secondly, you must reach an understanding with the customs authorities of the countries to which the delivery is made, and your goods must have priority of passage, they should not be subject to additional requirements. Third, you must have a sophisticated computer system that can predict delivery to hours, not just days. For example, on September 16, deliveries of the iPhone 6 began from China to online buyers in the United States, their parcels will arrive on September 19, the day the sales start. Difficult? Damn hard.

But what does Apple gain from such a delivery system? A lot of things. Firstly, the company does not spend money on huge transshipment warehouses, delivery services take on this problem and immediately deliver the goods. In fact, for Apple, the cost of shipping a particular device from China is about the same as what it cost to ship within the US and maintain warehouses and other infrastructure. Moreover, delivery times have been reduced. This is a direct-to-consumer delivery, but this method does not work in a number of other countries.

Of the advantages for the manufacturer, there is also the ability to quickly respond to changes in demand, it is possible to reduce the volume of production of specific products without putting them in warehouses. And this is one of the huge advantages of Apple over other companies. The same iPhone 5C, which was originally produced in huge quantities, did not become a bestseller, and its production was screwed up, selling what had already been produced for several months.

In theory, Apple should have carried this ideal model to every country where they are present, but real-world restrictions intervene. Not everywhere customs clearance can be carried out so easily and simply, often goods for individuals from companies are checked even more strictly than wholesale lots. Another point is the lack of guaranteed delivery on time. As soon as Apple encounters problems with delivery services, they start looking for workarounds. And for Russia, partnership with local companies, severe penalties if the goods are not delivered on time, and other “little things” become this way. As a result, we have that the example of Apple is very attractive, but it is difficult to repeat it outside the USA, and other companies do not have such a sales volume or such an economy is unprofitable for them, since the goods are noticeably cheaper.

Problems of an online store in Russia - couriers and delivery

Anyone who has shopped online in Russia knows a few things. Delivery of goods occurs at best the next day, delivery time can be selected only in a wide range, or by specifying a specific hour, you will delay it for another day or two. And it doesn’t matter whether the company maintains its own delivery service or the partner delivers the goods, the reality is that no one can provide exact dates within the same city.

There are many explanations for the fact that delivery times are “burning”, from banal traffic jams in large cities to broken roads in smaller settlements. But the reason is not this at all, but the general inefficiency of logistics, even within the same city. The cost of delivering valuable cargo, for example, a mobile phone, ranges from 200 to 300 rubles in large cities, 100-200 rubles in other settlements. Sometimes this shipping cost is broadcast to the buyer, and then he chooses "self-collection". The surprise of the situation lies in the fact that in Russia the “self-delivery” option is one of the most popular. The smaller the city, the more popular this option is. Nobody wants to wait for a courier who arrives at an incomprehensible time, and often they charge extra for this.

I would like to note very briefly that in Russian realities there are still two types of market - gray and white. On the gray market, goods are not certified (what is called “non-PCT” for phones), cost 20-30 percent cheaper, but do not have a company warranty. White companies are forced to fight the gray market, so they often set prices in their online stores at different levels, they differ from city to city, but even in the same city, the price in a regular and online store can be completely different. Remember the postscript "The price is valid only in the online store!".

Therefore, pickup is a form of buying from a physical store, but at a lower price. This format has nothing to do with online trading, in fact, it is only an order and payment for goods via the Internet. Often, the goods are also paid for in cash when buying at the pickup point, it happens.

Almost no one can withstand the classic and pure example of online trading in Russia, the same Ozone survives, but as a result suffers losses.

Why are courier services so inefficient even within the same city? The answer to this question, oddly enough, is to be found in the informatization of our society and the management systems of such organizations. For a courier service to be effective, it needs several components. Let's take a look at each of them.

  • Own fleet of vehicles - not all goods can be effectively delivered by public transport, many deliveries are more profitable to carry out by cars.
  • A large staff of couriers are full-time, not piece-work. This ensures the constant presence of people, guaranteed access to work and the ability to plan delivery routes.
  • An information system that has data on the routes of couriers and, as a result, calculates delivery times and controls the passage of goods.

To begin with, for many, a courier is a temporary and low-paid job. A typical N-Store courier in Moscow (Nokia brand store) is a visitor from Central Asia, who speaks with a strong accent, he has a bag with various phones (from 10 to 20 pieces), he travels by metro along a certain branch.

When the courier is busy, he physically cannot be in time everywhere and very often misses the delivery time. This is the problem of the courier service, which is trying to earn as much as possible. And they can be understood. Investing in cars or creating a permanent staff in the background of logistics services in cities is not profitable. Not to mention information systems for tracking couriers. This niche is not occupied by anyone and is waiting for its hero, who is ready to invest millions, but build a business that works like clockwork. I think that this person will get rich, but before that he will suffer losses for several years, until he reformats the Russian market for himself.

European experience shows that large delivery services are maximally equipped with scanners and GPS trackers or phones, the office always knows where the courier is and when the delivery will take place. Moreover, buyers can sometimes track the movement of the courier. Of course, these are additional costs that affect the cost of delivery. But, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, it completely coincides with how much delivery in Russia costs. That is, the cost of services is approximately the same, and given the difference in the economic level, the cost of transport and other aspects, in Russia it is even more advantageous. The problem is that none of the serious players is engaged in logistics at the city level, there are tasks on a larger scale, something that brings more profit. And before that, the hands do not reach.

The next characteristic moment for Russia is to pay attention to how online stores are opening in our country. They go to specific cities, and you can read press releases about it every day. The reason is simple - in order for a store to trade, it needs a warehouse, which opens in a particular city. That is, a classic retail model is being built, only without a regular store, but with the last mile using couriers or pickup from somewhere. Why is this happening?

The answer lies in the fact that there are almost no strong and accessible logistics services throughout the country. We need logistics retail, the role of which is played by the US Postal Service in America, and we should play the Russian Post, which is funded by the state. But the fact that parcels arrive within the country at random times, the subsidiary express service does not operate throughout the country and the cost of its services is quite high, all this plays against the development of the online trading market. In fact, each online store is forced to decide how to deliver goods to another city. I watched with my own eyes how an order from Vladivostok for a top-end tablet caused regret in the online store and a refusal to deliver the product for free - the shipping cost is too high. There are many such examples. The lack of developed logistics within the country is the main problem facing any online store. But even this is only part of the problem.

Weighing goods, sending by parcel post and other tricks

In the last reincarnation, MegaFon's online store was the same store, but from Zoom. This store was engaged in the trade of telephones, accessories and was one of the strongest in Russia, although not the largest. The reason for his purchase was those technologies that differed from the market at that time. Firstly, inside the store, all goods were included in the internal catalog, where the equipment, box dimensions (they were measured), and the weight of the package (also measured) were indicated for it. Secondly, the guys wrote a software in which, upon receiving an order, the delivery cost was immediately calculated (depending on the selected goods, their weight was taken into account). Today it sounds like a kindergarten or a simple task, but it is still not implemented in most stores.

Once I came across how several large online electronics stores work, and plunged into a small branch of hell or Russian Post, whichever you like more. Order letters that had individual numbers and such just came to the company's mailbox, where they were sorted by people by hand! There was no system, discounts were issued according to the client number from the database and were calculated manually in 1C. That is, a lot of unproductive manual labor, which was spent on something that can be automated. And this is how the vast majority of small-sized online stores work - it's manual labor with all the problems that come with it.

Automation is always good, but you need to add a really working structure to it, which cannot be described by several people. That is, automation should affect accounting, partner companies (for example, logisticians), the internal procedure for issuing goods from a warehouse and delivering them. The information system should take into account all the features of the company, and this is always an atypical solution that needs to be customized for a specific company and its features. Unfortunately, standard solutions "out of the box" almost do not exist. In fact, many companies offer such solutions, but in real conditions they need to be finished with a file.

I don’t know how things are now, but the lack of such an information system in the Softkey store at one time led to the fact that after paying for the program, you had to wait a few days until you were sent access to it (the key). I always felt like a complete fool when I was offered to pay with a card, and then wait a couple of days for a de facto virtual product. It was easier to buy somewhere else, not there. It's all about the information insufficiency of the business and the processes in it.

Unfortunately, for many online stores, as well as large sites, online trading becomes a screen for a completely different business, and it is also worth mentioning.

Black cash - real money online

Sales of goods via the Internet allow you to receive cash that is not recorded anywhere, that is, the company can accumulate cash. In turn, they can take bribes, solve problems, simply save for a rainy day by the owners - you can think of a lot of ways to use it. It's just money.

The scheme always looks very simple - a carousel is created from different LLCs, PHIs and the like. You order in the Horns and Hooves online store, they bring goods from another legal entity, and the average period of its life is calculated in months. There is no know-how here, but the most important thing is that this is a profitable business, and it has almost nothing to do with trading in electronics or other goods. Companies that cash out through goods are ready to sell them with a minimum margin or no markup at all. Over the past year, I have come across examples of several unknown companies that sold computers and other equipment at two prices - the normal, market value for cashless payments and a reduced cost equal to the purchase price for cash. There are similar schemes.

For those who arrange carousels and sell goods from different legal entities, any traces are a death sentence. Therefore, for such companies, the development of information systems is contraindicated. Sometimes it gets along with legal business, and it's interesting to look at such a spike, especially when the most important notebook in the world is lost, in which all sales over the past week were taken into account.

In my opinion, the existence of this parallel universe is a block factor for the development of civilized retail, since profit comes not from the fact of sale and markup on goods, but from a completely different operation. Customer satisfaction fades into the background, the main thing is that he gives the money in cash. In one form or another, most of the companies in the market play it. But since the topic is sensitive, let's leave it aside. I described how it happens, and I won’t stir up further, for those who are interested, they can find quite funny stories about this side of the business on the net.

Why won't the Chinese distribution model work?

Several companies that have built a successful business in China with millions of online sales are trying to enter Russia. Some want to repeat their Chinese experience. And all of them do not understand the simple thing that there is no well-established logistics system in Russia. Their hope and hope for the Russian Post looks like a mockery, they really don’t understand why the state post in China costs a penny, works on time, and in Russia, which they consider to be much more developed in many aspects, everything is exactly the opposite. It is difficult to explain, but in the end it is possible.

The Chinese model is a lot like how Apple works, but within the same country. Cheap government mail, which is predictable, is another success factor. Without them, it is impossible to repeat the Chinese experience. And even the Indian experience is unrealistic to repeat in our realities.

It is necessary to build local warehouse hubs, covering the main cities. At a minimum, a dozen warehouses will be needed for the whole country, as a result, an information system is needed that tracks the goods in these warehouses, etc. Overhead costs rise sharply - these warehouses must have people, at least a security guard, storekeeper, loader, etc. That is, these are all expenses that you invest in the cost of the goods. And the fabulous price that you predicted suddenly cannot be obtained. It turns into a completely different value, not so tasty. And then the question arises - why are all these problems needed, if there are already companies where you can instantly stand on the shelves and get real sales. Albeit with a smaller margin, but it will be here and now.Of course, strategically, each company plans and will develop its online store, this is ultimately correct, and this approach is based on common sense that someday supply chains will improve in Russia. I believe that someday it will happen. Moreover, online stores have been talking about this for the last 10 years, which is just about - and good logistics will appear. It is a pity, but the speed of development of these services is such that as long as the state takes the position of a monopolist, there will be no improvements in this direction. We need to develop private delivery of goods to other cities, regions and with the support and participation of the state. Attempts to keep the Russian Post from falling only lead to the fact that the huge online market cannot develop normally and quickly. On the other hand, there are many other problems in this market, and delivery is a serious, but not the biggest obstacle. It may seem a bit harsh to you, but there is no full-fledged Internet commerce at the country level in Russia. Individual examples only confirm this rule. Fragmented, disparate cities and regions in which there are pockets of selling goods via the Internet. And at the same time, people, as before, choose self-delivery. Here is such a sad story about online.

Tell in the comments your stories about online shopping, both from the side of the buyer and the seller. I am sure that many will think that the article has exaggerated a lot, but there are comments for that to say how wonderful everything is in the Danish kingdom. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and for taking the time to share your experience.

Couch analytics #12. The Central Russian Upland and online trading

Delayed the release for one day, and even changed the planned theme at the request of our readers literally at the last moment. The question was: "Why can't online stores in Russia be the same as in China?" Of course, the question was asked in a completely different way, but I could not find the original message in the tweet, but I conveyed the essence exactly. If we reformulate the question, then together we need to find the answer to the question why online sales in the USA, Germany, China and other countries are often much larger and more successful than in Russia. Why do we hear about how companies collect hundreds of thousands of pre-orders in a matter of minutes, and in Russia the volume of 6-7 thousand pieces is already considered a success. Let's look into this issue together, I think it will be interesting for us.

Content:

Record pre-orders in China - China's business model

Our consciousness is somehow by itself and quite imperceptibly accustomed to dividing countries into developed and economically lagging behind. Several generations have already grown up who were not taught political economy, they did not see the political maps of the world, and for us, who grew up in the USSR, they were a familiar element of the situation. For example, such a map hung in my house, exactly the same was at school.

Play a simple game - find out which countries, according to others, are economically developed, ask this question to relatives, colleagues, those around you. I am sure you will be amazed at the answers and their diversity. It so happened that Western countries are by default considered the most technologically advanced, and the United States has long elevated such a leader in technology to the pedestal. Some deserve it, some don't. At the same time, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of Japan, are perceived as standing at about the same level of development as Russia. Maybe this is due to more frequent contacts with China and the Chinese and other peoples of the region, maybe because their mentality is closer to us, I don’t know. How can one not remember Blok with his lines “Yes, we are Scythians! Yes, we are Asians, with slanted and greedy eyes!”.

But the fact remains that we are not in a hurry to adopt American experience even in the field of the Internet and trade. Most businessmen are wary of this experience, because they believe, and quite rightly, that the environment in our countries, the substrate for technology, has a completely different context. It is impossible to transfer many technologies from the United States to Russian soil, not because of technical aspects, but rather because of different mentality, behavioral schemes, and similar barriers. At the same time, when this experience is taking root in China, they are trying to adopt it and carry it to our penates with redoubled zeal. Usually these are completely different people - it so happened that there are not so many businessmen oriented both to the West and to the East in our country, as a rule, each has his own direction and specialization. In the broad sense of the word.

In a philosophical sense, record sales over the Internet in the United States do not surprise us at all. This information is annually superimposed on previous knowledge that has settled in our heads, and does not in any way encourage us to copy their experience, adopt it and translate it into Russian realities. It is firmly planted in our heads that the gulf between the US and Russia in online trading is catastrophic and it is not worth trying to transfer their experience. Rare successes, when something rethought is transferred to Runet and it gives its shoots, only confirm this observation. Other living conditions.

Even the Russian Amazon with the consonant name Ozone has been unprofitable for many years in a row, waiting for huge profits in some distant future. If in 2012 Ozon had a revenue of 6.4 billion rubles, and a loss of 610 million, then in 2013 it increased its revenue to 7.4 billion rubles, but the loss was almost fixed at the level of 619.7 million rubles (data from the SPARK database). It has always remained a mystery to me how a company can exist for many years, which is so consistently losing money, but gets out by attracting new investors. However, this is not an isolated example for Russian online and, unfortunately, quite typical.

Perhaps the example of Ozon was important to show how a pioneering company that adopted the American experience feels. It should be noted that it does not feel very good, and it has long been surpassed in sales by younger competitors that have concentrated in their niches. The first place in the online trading market is occupied by Ulmart, followed by the Merlion retail project, Citilink. You can read a rather curious, but not entirely accurate rating from Forbes here.

It must be admitted that it did not work out in Russia to create its own Amazon, even a copy of Alibaba did not work out, but there are many reasons for this. Before moving on to them, I want to dwell on another aspect - the Chinese experience is often perceived in Russia as a guide to action, and many companies are willing to try it on themselves.

And in the last year, very good news has been heard from China, let's list only a number of headlines that can be read in the Russian press and on websites:

  • Record sales of Xiaomi M4 by pre-order, all devices bought in 37 seconds
  • More than one million HTC Desire 816 orders in China
  • More than a million pre-orders for Nokia X smartphone in China
  • Meizu MX4 reached 700,000 pre-orders in China in 10 days

You can multiply such headlines indefinitely, the fact is that this high-profile "sales" technology was born on the Russian market with the help of Nokia, then it was exported to China. When such messages talk about pre-orders, as a rule, this is not a payment, but just a letter to the manufacturer from the site in which the person expresses a desire to buy the product. You can not buy it and refuse. For example, here is what a pre-order for a Nokia phone in Russia looks like.

With the help of SMM tricks, you can reach any level of pre-orders, the cost of a click and simple actions on the site is minimal. Some companies try to stand out and talk about the time for which they sold out the party, without rightly specifying that it consisted of a hundred pieces or even less. These figures have nothing to do with real sales, but they excite the minds of those who are engaged in business. There is a feeling that soon the Internet will become a significant value in Russia, which means that we need to have time to share this pie. China is perceived as an example of a country from which trade technologies and various tricks can be transferred, with a high probability they will work in Russia as well. But this is not always and not entirely true, in relation to online trading it is not so at all, and here's why.

How the Apple online store works and why this is a unique case

Apple has become one of the pioneers of online trading, on the company's website you can order various equipment and get it at home without any extra charges. Delivery times may vary from country to country, usually taking one to two business days. In Russia, this is about 4 days, which, if the price is equal, makes buying in other places more interesting. But what is typical, the company's online store gives all sorts of "goodies", for example, free engraving on metal surfaces.

Unfortunately, the Russian Apple store is very different from its American counterpart, and this difference is not at all in prices, but in the supply chain. Initially, Apple maintained warehouses in the United States from which goods were sent to customers. As you understand, the cost of maintaining a warehouse should be taken into account in the price of the goods, this is not so noticeable on premium goods, but it is still minus the company's profit. When selling directly to the end consumer, Apple receives all the margin from the device, does not share with intermediaries. And it is always profitable, for any company and anywhere in the world. Now imagine that you remove one more additional link - local warehouses in the country, and immediately send the device from production to the door of the buyer. It sounds very simple, but it is the most difficult logistical and organizational task.

Firstly, you need to have a special sorting warehouse in the factory or nearby. Secondly, you must reach an understanding with the customs authorities of the countries to which the delivery is made, and your goods must have priority of passage, they should not be subject to additional requirements. Third, you must have a sophisticated computer system that can predict delivery to hours, not just days. For example, on September 16, deliveries of the iPhone 6 began from China to online buyers in the United States, their parcels will arrive on September 19, the day the sales start. Difficult? Damn hard.

But what does Apple gain from such a delivery system? A lot of things. Firstly, the company does not spend money on huge transshipment warehouses, delivery services take on this problem and immediately deliver the goods. In fact, for Apple, the cost of shipping a particular device from China is about the same as what it cost to ship within the US and maintain warehouses and other infrastructure. Moreover, the delivery time has been reduced. This is a direct-to-consumer delivery, but this method does not work in a number of other countries.

Of the advantages for the manufacturer, there is also the ability to quickly respond to changes in demand, it is possible to reduce the volume of production of specific products without putting them in warehouses. And this is one of the huge advantages of Apple over other companies. The same iPhone 5C, which was originally produced in huge quantities, did not become a bestseller, and its production was screwed up, selling what had already been produced for several months.

In theory, Apple should have carried this ideal model to every country where they are present, but real-world restrictions intervene. Not everywhere customs clearance can be carried out so easily and simply, often goods for individuals from companies are checked even more strictly than wholesale lots. Another point is the lack of guaranteed delivery on time. As soon as Apple encounters problems with delivery services, they start looking for workarounds. And for Russia, partnership with local companies, severe penalties if the goods are not delivered on time, and other “little things” become this way. As a result, we have that the example of Apple is very attractive, but it is difficult to repeat it outside the USA, and other companies do not have such a sales volume or such an economy is unprofitable for them, since the goods are noticeably cheaper.

Problems of an online store in Russia - couriers and delivery

Anyone who has shopped online in Russia knows a few things. Delivery of goods occurs at best the next day, delivery time can be selected only in a wide range, or by specifying a specific hour, you will delay it for another day or two. And it doesn’t matter whether the company maintains its own delivery service or the partner delivers the goods, the reality is that no one can provide exact dates within the same city.

There are many explanations for the fact that delivery times are “burning”, from banal traffic jams in large cities to broken roads in smaller settlements. But the reason is not at all in this, but in the general inefficiency of logistics, even within the same city. The cost of delivering valuable cargo, for example, a mobile phone, ranges from 200 to 300 rubles in large cities, 100-200 rubles in other settlements. Sometimes this shipping cost is broadcast to the buyer, and then he chooses "self-collection". The surprise of the situation lies in the fact that in Russia the option "self-delivery" is one of the most popular. The smaller the city, the more popular this option is. Nobody wants to wait for a courier who arrives at an incomprehensible time, and often they charge extra for this.

I would like to note very briefly that in Russian realities there are still two types of market - gray and white. On the gray market, goods are not certified (what is called “non-PCT” for phones), cost 20-30 percent cheaper, but do not have a company warranty. White companies are forced to fight the gray market, so they often set prices in their online stores at different levels, they differ from city to city, but even in the same city, the price in a regular and online store can be completely different. Remember the postscript "The price is valid only in the online store!".

Therefore, pickup is a form of buying from a physical store, but at a lower price. This format has nothing to do with online trading, in fact, it is only an order and payment for goods via the Internet. Often, the goods are also paid for in cash when buying at the pickup point, it happens.

Almost no one can withstand the classic and pure example of online trading in Russia, the same Ozone survives, but as a result suffers losses.

Why are courier services so inefficient even within the same city? The answer to this question, oddly enough, is to be found in the informatization of our society and the management systems of such organizations. For a courier service to be effective, it needs several components. Let's take a look at each of them.

  • Own fleet of vehicles - not all goods can be effectively delivered by public transport, many deliveries are more profitable to carry out by cars.
  • A large staff of couriers are full-time, not piece-work. This ensures the constant presence of people, guaranteed access to work and the ability to plan delivery routes.
  • An information system that has data on the routes of couriers and, as a result, calculates delivery times and controls the passage of goods.

To begin with, for many, a courier is a temporary and low-paid job. A typical N-Store courier in Moscow (Nokia brand store) is a visitor from Central Asia, who speaks with a strong accent, he has a bag with various phones (from 10 to 20 pieces), he travels by metro along a certain branch.

When the courier is busy, he physically cannot be in time everywhere and very often misses the delivery time. This is the problem of the courier service, which is trying to earn as much as possible. And they can be understood. Investing in cars or creating a permanent staff in the background of logistics services in cities is not profitable. Not to mention information systems for tracking couriers. This niche is not occupied by anyone and is waiting for its hero, who is ready to invest millions, but build a business that works like clockwork. I think that this person will get rich, but before that he will suffer losses for several years, until he reformats the Russian market for himself.

European experience shows that large delivery services are maximally equipped with scanners and GPS trackers or phones, the office always knows where the courier is and when the delivery will take place. Moreover, buyers can sometimes track the movement of the courier. Of course, these are additional costs that affect the cost of delivery. But, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, it completely coincides with how much delivery in Russia costs. That is, the cost of services is approximately the same, and given the difference in the economic level, the cost of transport and other aspects, in Russia it is even more advantageous. The problem is that none of the serious players is engaged in logistics at the city level, there are tasks on a larger scale, something that brings more profit. And before that, the hands do not reach.

The next characteristic moment for Russia is to pay attention to how online stores are opening in our country. They go to specific cities, and you can read press releases about it every day. The reason is simple - in order for a store to trade, it needs a warehouse, which opens in a particular city. That is, a classic retail model is being built, only without a regular store, but with the last mile using couriers or pickup from somewhere. Why is this happening?

The answer lies in the fact that there are almost no strong and accessible logistics services throughout the country. We need logistics retail, the role of which is played by the US Postal Service in America, and we should play the Russian Post, which is funded by the state. But the fact that parcels arrive within the country at random times, the subsidiary express service does not operate throughout the country and the cost of its services is quite high, all this plays against the development of the online trading market. In fact, each online store is forced to decide how to deliver goods to another city. I watched with my own eyes how an order from Vladivostok for a top-end tablet caused regret in the online store and a refusal to deliver the product for free - the shipping cost is too high. There are many such examples. The lack of developed logistics within the country is the main problem facing any online store. But even this is only part of the problem.

Weighing goods, sending by parcel post and other tricks

In the last reincarnation, MegaFon's online store was the same store, but from Zoom. This store was engaged in the trade of telephones, accessories and was one of the strongest in Russia, although not the largest. The reason for his purchase was those technologies that differed from the market at that time. Firstly, inside the store, all goods were included in the internal catalog, where the equipment, box dimensions (they were measured), and the weight of the package (also measured) were indicated for it. Secondly, the guys wrote a software in which, upon receiving an order, the delivery cost was immediately calculated (depending on the selected goods, their weight was taken into account). Today it sounds like a kindergarten or a simple task, but it is still not implemented in most stores.

Once I came across how several large online electronics stores work, and plunged into a small branch of hell or Russian Post, whichever you like more. Order letters that had individual numbers and such just came to the company's mailbox, where they were sorted by people by hand! There was no system, discounts were issued according to the client number from the database and were calculated manually in 1C. That is, a lot of unproductive manual labor, which was spent on something that can be automated. And this is how the vast majority of small-sized online stores work - it's manual labor with all the problems that come with it.

Automation is always good, but you need to add a really working structure to it, which cannot be described by several people. That is, automation should affect accounting, partner companies (for example, logisticians), the internal procedure for issuing goods from a warehouse and delivering them. The information system should take into account all the features of the company, and this is always an atypical solution that needs to be customized for a specific company and its features. Unfortunately, standard solutions "out of the box" almost do not exist. In fact, many companies offer such solutions, but in real conditions they need to be finished with a file.

I don’t know how things are now, but the lack of such an information system in the Softkey store at one time led to the fact that after paying for the program, you had to wait a few days until you were sent access to it (the key). I always felt like a complete fool when I was offered to pay with a card, and then wait a couple of days for a de facto virtual product. It was easier to buy somewhere else, not there. It's all about the information insufficiency of the business and the processes in it.

Unfortunately, for many online stores, as well as large sites, online trading becomes a screen for a completely different business, and it is also worth mentioning.

Black cash - real money online

Sales of goods via the Internet allow you to receive cash that is not recorded anywhere, that is, the company can accumulate cash. In turn, they can take bribes, solve problems, simply save for a rainy day by the owners - you can think of a lot of ways to use it. It's just money.

The scheme always looks very simple - a carousel is created from different LLCs, PHIs and the like. You order in the Horns and Hooves online store, they bring goods from another legal entity, and the average period of its life is calculated in months. There is no know-how here, but the most important thing is that this is a profitable business, and it has almost nothing to do with trading in electronics or other goods. Companies that cash out through goods are ready to sell them with a minimum margin or no markup at all. Over the past year, I have come across examples of several unknown companies that sold computers and other equipment at two prices - the normal, market value for cashless payments and a reduced cost equal to the purchase price for cash. There are similar schemes.

For those who arrange carousels and sell goods from different legal entities, any traces are a death sentence. Therefore, for such companies, the development of information systems is contraindicated. Sometimes it gets along with legal business, and it's interesting to look at such a spike, especially when the most important notebook in the world is lost, in which all sales over the past week were taken into account.

In my opinion, the existence of this parallel universe is a block factor for the development of civilized retail, since profit comes not from the fact of sale and markup on goods, but from a completely different operation. Customer satisfaction fades into the background, the main thing is that he gives money in cash. In one form or another, most of the companies on the market play this. But since the topic is sensitive, let's leave it aside. I described how it happens, and I won’t stir up further, for those who are interested, they can find quite funny stories about this side of the business on the net.

Why won't the Chinese distribution model work?

Several companies that have built a successful business in China with millions of online sales are trying to enter Russia. Some want to repeat their Chinese experience. And all of them do not understand the simple thing that there is no well-established logistics system in Russia. Their hope and hope for the Russian Post looks like a mockery, they really don’t understand why the state post in China costs a penny, works on time, and in Russia, which they consider to be much more developed in many aspects, everything is exactly the opposite. It is difficult to explain, but in the end it is possible.

The Chinese model is a lot like how Apple works, but within the same country. Cheap government mail, which is predictable, is another success factor. Without them, it is impossible to repeat the Chinese experience. And even the Indian experience is unrealistic to repeat in our realities.

It is necessary to build local warehouse hubs, covering the main cities. At a minimum, a dozen warehouses will be needed for the whole country, as a result, an information system is needed that tracks the goods in these warehouses, etc. Overhead costs rise sharply - these warehouses must have people, at least a security guard, storekeeper, loader, etc. That is, these are all expenses that you invest in the cost of the goods. And the fabulous price that you predicted suddenly cannot be obtained. It turns into a completely different value, not so tasty. And then the question arises - why are all these problems needed, if there are already companies where you can instantly stand on the shelves and get real sales. Albeit with a smaller margin, but it will be here and now.Of course, strategically, each company plans and will develop its online store, this is ultimately correct, and this approach is based on common sense that someday supply chains will improve in Russia. I believe that someday it will happen. Moreover, online stores have been talking about this for the last 10 years, which is just about - and good logistics will appear. It is a pity, but the speed of development of these services is such that as long as the state takes the position of a monopolist, there will be no improvements in this direction. We need to develop private delivery of goods to other cities, regions and with the support and participation of the state. Attempts to keep the Russian Post from falling only lead to the fact that the huge online market cannot develop normally and quickly. On the other hand, there are many other problems in this market, and delivery is a serious, but not the biggest obstacle. It may seem a bit harsh to you, but there is no full-fledged Internet commerce at the country level in Russia. Individual examples only confirm this rule. Fragmented, disparate cities and regions in which there are pockets of selling goods via the Internet. And at the same time, people, as before, choose self-delivery. Here is such a sad story about online.

Tell your stories about online shopping in the comments, both from the side of the buyer and the seller. I am sure that many will think that the article has exaggerated a lot, but there are comments for that to say how wonderful everything is in the Danish kingdom. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and for taking the time to share your experience.

Couch analytics #12. Central Russian Upland and Online Trading

Delayed the release for one day, and even changed the planned theme at the request of our readers literally at the last moment. The question was: "Why can't online stores in Russia be the same as in China?" Of course, the question was asked in a completely different way, but I could not find the original message in the tweet, but I conveyed the essence exactly. If we reformulate the question, then together we need to find the answer to the question why online sales in the USA, Germany, China and other countries are often much larger and more successful than in Russia. Why do we hear about how companies collect hundreds of thousands of pre-orders in a matter of minutes, and in Russia the volume of 6-7 thousand pieces is already considered a success. Let's look into this issue together, I think it will be interesting for us.

Content:

Record pre-orders in China - China's business model

Our consciousness is somehow by itself and quite imperceptibly accustomed to dividing countries into developed and economically lagging behind. Several generations have already grown up who were not taught political economy, they did not see the political maps of the world, and for us, who grew up in the USSR, they were a familiar element of the situation. For example, such a map hung in my house, exactly the same was at school.

Play a simple game - find out which countries, according to others, are economically developed, ask this question to relatives, colleagues, those around you. I am sure you will be amazed at the answers and their diversity. It so happened that Western countries are by default considered the most technologically advanced, and the United States has long elevated such a leader in technology to the pedestal. Some deserve it, some don't. At the same time, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of Japan, are perceived as standing at about the same level of development as Russia. Maybe this is due to more frequent contacts with China and the Chinese and other peoples of the region, maybe because their mentality is closer to us, I don’t know. How can one not remember Blok with his lines “Yes, we are Scythians! Yes, we are Asians, with slanted and greedy eyes!”.

But the fact remains that we are not in a hurry to adopt American experience even in the field of the Internet and trade. Most businessmen are wary of this experience, because they believe, and quite rightly, that the environment in our countries, the substrate for technology, has a completely different context. It is impossible to transfer many technologies from the United States to Russian soil, not because of technical aspects, but rather because of different mentality, behavioral schemes, and similar barriers. At the same time, when this experience is taking root in China, they are trying to adopt it and carry it to our penates with redoubled zeal. Usually these are completely different people - it so happened that there are not so many businessmen oriented both to the West and to the East in our country, as a rule, each has his own direction and specialization. In the broad sense of the word.

In a philosophical sense, record sales over the Internet in the United States do not surprise us at all. This information is annually superimposed on previous knowledge that has settled in our heads, and does not in any way encourage us to copy their experience, adopt it and translate it into Russian realities. It is firmly planted in our heads that the gulf between the US and Russia in online trading is catastrophic and it is not worth trying to transfer their experience. Rare successes, when something rethought is transferred to Runet and it gives its shoots, only confirm this observation. Other living conditions.

Even the Russian Amazon with the consonant name Ozone has been unprofitable for many years in a row, waiting for huge profits in some distant future. If in 2012 Ozon had a revenue of 6.4 billion rubles, and a loss of 610 million, then in 2013 it increased its revenue to 7.4 billion rubles, but the loss was almost fixed at the level of 619.7 million rubles (data from the SPARK database). It has always remained a mystery to me how a company can exist for many years, which is so consistently losing money, but gets out by attracting new investors. However, this is not an isolated example for Russian online and, unfortunately, quite typical.

Perhaps the example of Ozon was important to show how a pioneering company that adopted the American experience feels. It should be noted that it does not feel very good, and it has long been surpassed in sales by younger competitors that have concentrated in their niches. The first place in the online trading market is occupied by Ulmart, followed by the Merlion retail project, Citilink. You can read a rather interesting, but not entirely accurate rating from Forbes here.

It must be admitted that it did not work out in Russia to create its own Amazon, even a copy of Alibaba did not work out, but there are many reasons for this. Before moving on to them, I want to dwell on another aspect - the Chinese experience is often perceived in Russia as a guide to action, and many companies are willing to try it on themselves.

And in the last year, very good news has been heard from China, let's list only a number of headlines that can be read in the Russian press and on websites:

  • Record sales of Xiaomi M4 by pre-order, all devices bought in 37 seconds
  • More than one million HTC Desire 816 orders in China
  • More than a million pre-orders for Nokia X smartphone in China
  • Meizu MX4 reached 700,000 pre-orders in China in 10 days

You can multiply such headlines indefinitely, the fact is that this high-profile "sales" technology was born on the Russian market with the help of Nokia, then it was exported to China. When such messages talk about pre-orders, as a rule, this is not a payment, but just a letter to the manufacturer from the site in which the person expresses a desire to buy the product. You can not buy it and refuse. For example, here is what a pre-order for a Nokia phone in Russia looks like.

With the help of SMM tricks, you can reach any level of pre-orders, the cost of a click and simple actions on the site is minimal. Some companies try to stand out and talk about the time for which they sold out the party, without rightly specifying that it consisted of a hundred pieces or even less. These figures have nothing to do with real sales, but they excite the minds of those who are engaged in business. There is a feeling that soon the Internet will become a significant value in Russia, which means that we need to have time to share this pie. China is perceived as an example of a country from which trade technologies and various tricks can be transferred, with a high probability they will work in Russia as well. But this is not always and not entirely true, in relation to online trading it is not so at all, and here's why.

How the Apple online store works and why this is a unique case

Apple has become one of the pioneers of online trading, on the company's website you can order various equipment and get it at home without any extra charges. Delivery times may vary from country to country, usually taking one to two business days. In Russia, this is about 4 days, which, if the price is equal, makes buying in other places more interesting. But what is typical, the company's online store gives all sorts of "goodies", for example, free engraving on metal surfaces.

Unfortunately, the Russian Apple store is very different from its American counterpart, and this difference is not at all in prices, but in the supply chain. Initially, Apple maintained warehouses in the United States from which goods were sent to customers. As you understand, the cost of maintaining a warehouse should be taken into account in the price of the goods, this is not so noticeable on premium goods, but it is still minus the company's profit. When selling directly to the end consumer, Apple receives all the margin from the device, does not share with intermediaries. And it is always profitable, for any company and anywhere in the world. Now imagine that you remove one more additional link - local warehouses in the country, and immediately send the device from production to the door of the buyer. It sounds very simple, but it is the most difficult logistical and organizational task.

Firstly, you need to have a special sorting warehouse in the factory or nearby. Secondly, you must reach an understanding with the customs authorities of the countries to which the delivery is made, and your goods must have priority of passage, they should not be subject to additional requirements. Third, you must have a sophisticated computer system that can predict delivery to hours, not just days. For example, on September 16, deliveries of the iPhone 6 began from China to online buyers in the United States, their parcels will arrive on September 19, the day the sales start. Difficult? Damn hard.

But what does Apple gain from such a delivery system? A lot of things. Firstly, the company does not spend money on huge transshipment warehouses, delivery services take on this problem and immediately deliver the goods. In fact, for Apple, the cost of shipping a particular device from China is about the same as what it cost to ship within the US and maintain warehouses and other infrastructure. Moreover, delivery times have been reduced. This is a direct-to-consumer delivery, but this method does not work in a number of other countries.

Of the advantages for the manufacturer, there is also the ability to quickly respond to changes in demand, it is possible to reduce the volume of production of specific products without putting them in warehouses. And this is one of the huge advantages of Apple over other companies. The same iPhone 5C, which was originally produced in huge quantities, did not become a bestseller, and its production was screwed up, selling what had already been produced for several months.

In theory, Apple should have carried this ideal model to every country where they are present, but real-world restrictions intervene. Not everywhere customs clearance can be carried out so easily and simply, often goods for individuals from companies are checked even more strictly than wholesale lots. Another point is the lack of guaranteed delivery on time. As soon as Apple encounters problems with delivery services, they start looking for workarounds. And for Russia, partnership with local companies, severe penalties if the goods are not delivered on time, and other “little things” become this way. As a result, we have that the example of Apple is very attractive, but it is difficult to repeat it outside the USA, and other companies do not have such a sales volume or such an economy is unprofitable for them, since the goods are noticeably cheaper.

Problems of an online store in Russia - couriers and delivery

Anyone who has shopped online in Russia knows a few things. Delivery of goods occurs at best the next day, delivery time can be selected only in a wide range, or by specifying a specific hour, you will delay it for another day or two. And it doesn’t matter whether the company maintains its own delivery service or the partner delivers the goods, the reality is that no one can provide exact dates within the same city.

There are many explanations for the fact that delivery times are “burning”, from banal traffic jams in large cities to broken roads in smaller settlements. But the reason is not this at all, but the general inefficiency of logistics, even within the same city. The cost of delivering valuable cargo, for example, a mobile phone, ranges from 200 to 300 rubles in large cities, 100-200 rubles in other settlements. Sometimes this shipping cost is broadcast to the buyer, and then he chooses "self-collection". The surprise of the situation lies in the fact that in Russia the “self-delivery” option is one of the most popular. The smaller the city, the more popular this option is. Nobody wants to wait for a courier who arrives at an incomprehensible time, and often they charge extra for this.

I would like to note very briefly that in Russian realities there are still two types of market - gray and white. On the gray market, goods are not certified (what is called “non-PCT” for phones), cost 20-30 percent cheaper, but do not have a company warranty. White companies are forced to fight the gray market, so they often set prices in their online stores at different levels, they differ from city to city, but even in the same city, the price in a regular and online store can be completely different. Remember the postscript "The price is valid only in the online store!".

Therefore, pickup is a form of buying from a physical store, but at a lower price. This format has nothing to do with online trading, in fact, it is only an order and payment for goods via the Internet. Often, the goods are also paid for in cash when buying at the pickup point, it happens.

Almost no one can withstand the classic and pure example of online trading in Russia, the same Ozone survives, but as a result suffers losses.

Why are courier services so inefficient even within the same city? The answer to this question, oddly enough, is to be found in the informatization of our society and the management systems of such organizations. For a courier service to be effective, it needs several components. Let's take a look at each of them.

  • Own fleet of vehicles - not all goods can be effectively delivered by public transport, many deliveries are more profitable to carry out by cars.
  • A large staff of couriers are full-time, not piece-work. This ensures the constant presence of people, guaranteed access to work and the ability to plan delivery routes.
  • An information system that has data on the routes of couriers and, as a result, calculates delivery times and controls the passage of goods.

To begin with, for many, a courier is a temporary and low-paid job. A typical N-Store courier in Moscow (Nokia brand store) is a visitor from Central Asia, who speaks with a strong accent, he has a bag with various phones (from 10 to 20 pieces), he travels by metro along a certain branch.

When the courier is busy, he physically cannot be in time everywhere and very often misses the delivery time. This is the problem of the courier service, which is trying to earn as much as possible. And they can be understood. Investing in cars or creating a permanent staff in the background of logistics services in cities is not profitable. Not to mention information systems for tracking couriers. This niche is not occupied by anyone and is waiting for its hero, who is ready to invest millions, but build a business that works like clockwork. I think that this person will get rich, but before that he will suffer losses for several years, until he reformats the Russian market for himself.

European experience shows that large delivery services are maximally equipped with scanners and GPS trackers or phones, the office always knows where the courier is and when the delivery will take place. Moreover, buyers can sometimes track the movement of the courier. Of course, these are additional costs that affect the cost of delivery. But, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, it completely coincides with how much delivery in Russia costs. That is, the cost of services is approximately the same, and given the difference in the economic level, the cost of transport and other aspects, in Russia it is even more advantageous. The problem is that none of the serious players is engaged in logistics at the city level, there are tasks on a larger scale, something that brings more profit. And before that, the hands do not reach.

The next characteristic moment for Russia - pay attention to how online stores are opening in our country. They go to specific cities, and you can read press releases about it every day. The reason is simple - in order for a store to trade, it needs a warehouse, which opens in a particular city. That is, a classic retail model is being built, only without a regular store, but with the last mile using couriers or pickup from somewhere. Why is this happening?

The answer lies in the fact that there are almost no strong and accessible logistics services throughout the country. We need logistics retail, the role of which is played by the US Postal Service in America, and we should play the Russian Post, which is funded by the state. But the fact that parcels arrive within the country at random times, the subsidiary express service does not operate throughout the country, and the cost of its services is quite high, all this plays against the development of the online trading market. In fact, each online store is forced to decide how to deliver goods to another city. I watched with my own eyes how an order from Vladivostok for a top-end tablet caused regret in the online store and a refusal to deliver the product for free - the shipping cost is too high. There are many such examples. The lack of developed logistics within the country is the main problem facing any online store. But even this is only part of the problem.

Weighing goods, sending by parcel post and other tricks

In the last reincarnation, MegaFon's online store was the same store, but from Zoom. This store was engaged in the trade of telephones, accessories and was one of the strongest in Russia, although not the largest. The reason for his purchase was those technologies that differed from the market at that time. Firstly, inside the store, all goods were included in the internal catalog, where the equipment, box dimensions (they were measured), and the weight of the package (also measured) were indicated for it. Secondly, the guys wrote a software in which, upon receiving an order, the delivery cost was immediately calculated (depending on the selected goods, their weight was taken into account). Today it sounds like a kindergarten or a simple task, but it is still not implemented in most stores.

Once I came across how several large online electronics stores work, and plunged into a small branch of hell or Russian Post, whichever you like more. Order letters that had individual numbers and such just came to the company's mailbox, where they were sorted by people by hand! There was no system, discounts were issued according to the client number from the database and were calculated manually in 1C. That is, a lot of unproductive manual labor, which was spent on something that can be automated. And this is how the vast majority of small-sized online stores work - it's manual labor with all the problems that come with it.

Automation is always good, but you need to add a really working structure to it, which cannot be described by several people. That is, automation should affect accounting, partner companies (for example, logisticians), the internal procedure for issuing goods from a warehouse and delivering them. The information system should take into account all the features of the company, and this is always an atypical solution that needs to be customized for a specific company and its features. Unfortunately, standard solutions "out of the box" almost do not exist. In fact, many companies offer such solutions, but in real conditions they need to be finished with a file.

I don’t know how things are now, but the lack of such an information system in the Softkey store at one time led to the fact that after paying for the program, you had to wait a few days until you were sent access to it (the key). I always felt like a complete fool when I was offered to pay with a card, and then wait a couple of days for a de facto virtual product. It was easier to buy somewhere else, not there. It's all about the information insufficiency of the business and the processes in it.

Unfortunately, for many online stores, as well as large sites, online trading becomes a screen for a completely different business, and it is also worth mentioning.

Black cash - real money online

Sales of goods via the Internet allow you to receive cash that is not recorded anywhere, that is, the company can accumulate cash. In turn, they can take bribes, solve problems, simply save for a rainy day by the owners - you can think of a lot of ways to use it. It's just money.

The scheme always looks very simple - a carousel is created from different LLCs, PHIs and the like. You order in the Horns and Hooves online store, they bring goods from another legal entity, and the average period of its life is calculated in months. There is no know-how here, but the most important thing is that this is a profitable business, and it has almost nothing to do with trading in electronics or other goods. Companies that cash out through goods are ready to sell them with a minimum margin or no markup at all. Over the past year, I have come across examples of several unknown companies that sold computers and other equipment at two prices - the normal, market value for cashless payments and a reduced cost equal to the purchase price for cash. There are similar schemes.

For those who arrange carousels and sell goods from different legal entities, any traces are a death sentence. Therefore, for such companies, the development of information systems is contraindicated. Sometimes it gets along with legal business, and it's interesting to look at such a spike, especially when the most important notebook in the world is lost, in which all sales over the past week were taken into account.

In my opinion, the existence of this parallel universe is a block factor for the development of civilized retail, since profit comes not from the fact of sale and markup on goods, but from a completely different operation. Customer satisfaction fades into the background, the main thing is that he gives the money in cash. In one form or another, most of the companies in the market play it. But since the topic is sensitive, let's leave it aside. I described how it happens, and I won’t stir up further, for those who are interested, they can find quite funny stories about this side of the business on the net.

Why won't the Chinese distribution model work?

Several companies that have built a successful business in China with millions of online sales are trying to enter Russia. Some want to repeat their Chinese experience. And all of them do not understand the simple thing that there is no well-established logistics system in Russia. Their hope and hope for the Russian Post looks like a mockery, they really don’t understand why the state post in China costs a penny, works on time, and in Russia, which they consider to be much more developed in many aspects, everything is exactly the opposite. It is difficult to explain, but in the end it is possible.

The Chinese model is a lot like how Apple operates, but within the same country. Cheap government mail, which is predictable, is another success factor. Without them, it is impossible to repeat the Chinese experience. And even the Indian experience is unrealistic to repeat in our realities.

It is necessary to build local warehouse hubs, covering the main cities. At a minimum, a dozen warehouses will be needed for the whole country, as a result, an information system is needed that tracks the goods in these warehouses, etc. Overhead costs rise sharply - there must be people in these warehouses, at least a security guard, a storekeeper, a loader, etc. That is, these are all costs that you invest in the cost of the goods. And the fabulous price that you predicted suddenly cannot be obtained. It turns into a completely different value, not so tasty. And then the question arises - why are all these problems needed, if there are already companies where you can instantly stand on the shelves and get real sales. Albeit with a smaller margin, but it will be here and now.Of course, strategically, each company plans and will develop its online store, this is ultimately correct, and this approach is based on common sense that someday supply chains will improve in Russia. I believe that someday it will happen. Moreover, online stores have been talking about this for the last 10 years, which is just about - and good logistics will appear. It is a pity, but the speed of development of these services is such that as long as the state takes the position of a monopolist, there will be no improvements in this direction. We need to develop private delivery of goods to other cities, regions and with the support and participation of the state. Attempts to keep the Russian Post from falling only lead to the fact that the huge online market cannot develop normally and quickly. On the other hand, there are many other problems in this market, and delivery is a serious, but not the biggest obstacle. It may seem a bit harsh to you, but there is no full-fledged Internet commerce at the country level in Russia. Individual examples only confirm this rule. Fragmented, disparate cities and regions in which there are pockets of selling goods via the Internet. And at the same time, people, as before, choose self-delivery. Here is such a sad story about online.

Tell your stories about online shopping in the comments, both from the side of the buyer and the seller. I am sure that many will think that the article has exaggerated a lot, but there are comments for that to say how wonderful everything is in the Danish kingdom. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and for taking the time to share your experience.

Couch analytics #12. Central Russian Upland and Online Trading

Delayed the release for one day, and even changed the planned theme at the request of our readers literally at the last moment. The question was: "Why can't online stores in Russia be the same as in China?" Of course, the question was asked in a completely different way, but I could not find the original message in the tweet, but I conveyed the essence exactly. If we reformulate the question, then together we need to find the answer to the question why online sales in the USA, Germany, China and other countries are often much larger and more successful than in Russia. Why do we hear about how companies collect hundreds of thousands of pre-orders in a matter of minutes, and in Russia the volume of 6-7 thousand pieces is already considered a success. Let's look into this issue together, I think it will be interesting for us.

Content:

Record pre-orders in China - China's business model

Our consciousness is somehow by itself and quite imperceptibly accustomed to dividing countries into developed and economically lagging behind. Several generations have already grown up who were not taught political economy, they did not see the political maps of the world, and for us, who grew up in the USSR, they were a familiar element of the situation. For example, such a map hung in my house, exactly the same was at school.

Play a simple game - find out which countries, according to others, are economically developed, ask this question to relatives, colleagues, those around you. I am sure you will be amazed at the answers and their diversity. It so happened that Western countries are by default considered the most technologically advanced, and the United States has long elevated such a leader in technology to the pedestal. Some deserve it, some don't. At the same time, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of Japan, are perceived as standing at about the same level of development as Russia. Maybe this is due to more frequent contacts with China and the Chinese and other peoples of the region, maybe because their mentality is closer to us, I don’t know. How can one not remember Blok with his lines “Yes, we are Scythians! Yes, we are Asians, with slanted and greedy eyes!”.

But the fact remains that we are in no hurry to adopt American experience even in the field of the Internet and trade. Most businessmen are wary of this experience, because they believe, and quite rightly, that the environment in our countries, the substrate for technology, has a completely different context. It is impossible to transfer many technologies from the United States to Russian soil, not because of technical aspects, but rather because of different mentality, behavioral schemes, and similar barriers. At the same time, when this experience takes root in China, they try to adopt it and carry it with redoubled zeal to our penates. Usually these are completely different people - it so happened that there are not so many businessmen oriented both to the West and to the East in our country, as a rule, each has his own direction and specialization. In the broadest sense of the word.

In a philosophical sense, record sales over the Internet in the United States do not surprise us at all. This information is annually superimposed on previous knowledge that has settled in our heads, and does not in any way encourage us to copy their experience, adopt it and translate it into Russian realities. It is firmly planted in our heads that the gulf between the US and Russia in online trading is catastrophic and it is not worth trying to transfer their experience. Rare successes, when something rethought is transferred to Runet and it gives its shoots, only confirm this observation. Other living conditions.

Even the Russian Amazon with the consonant name Ozone has been unprofitable for many years in a row, waiting for huge profits in some distant future. If in 2012 Ozon had a revenue of 6.4 billion rubles, and a loss of 610 million, then in 2013 it increased its revenue to 7.4 billion rubles, but the loss was almost fixed at the level of 619.7 million rubles (data from the SPARK database). It has always remained a mystery to me how a company can exist for many years, which is so consistently losing money, but gets out by attracting new investors. However, this is not an isolated example for Russian online and, unfortunately, quite typical.

Perhaps the example of Ozon was important to show how a pioneering company that adopted the American experience feels. It should be noted that it does not feel very good, and it has long been surpassed in sales by younger competitors that have concentrated in their niches. The first place in the online trading market is occupied by Ulmart, followed by the Merlion retail project, Citilink. You can read a rather curious, but not entirely accurate rating from Forbes here.

It must be admitted that it did not work out in Russia to create its own Amazon, even a copy of Alibaba did not work out, but there are many reasons for this. Before moving on to them, I want to dwell on another aspect - the Chinese experience is often perceived in Russia as a guide to action, and many companies are willing to try it on themselves.

And in the last year, very good news has been heard from China, let's list only a number of headlines that can be read in the Russian press and on websites:

  • Record sales of Xiaomi M4 by pre-order, all devices bought in 37 seconds
  • More than one million HTC Desire 816 orders in China
  • More than a million pre-orders for Nokia X smartphone in China
  • Meizu MX4 reached 700,000 pre-orders in China in 10 days

You can multiply such headlines indefinitely, the fact is that this high-profile "sales" technology was born on the Russian market with the help of Nokia, then it was exported to China. When such messages talk about pre-orders, as a rule, this is not a payment, but just a letter to the manufacturer from the site in which the person expresses a desire to buy the product. You can not buy it and refuse. For example, here is what a pre-order for a Nokia phone in Russia looks like.

With the help of SMM tricks, you can reach any level of pre-orders, the cost of a click and simple actions on the site is minimal. Some companies try to stand out and talk about the time for which they sold out the party, without rightly specifying that it consisted of a hundred pieces or even less. These figures have nothing to do with real sales, but they excite the minds of those who are engaged in business. There is a feeling that soon the Internet will become a significant value in Russia, which means that we need to have time to share this pie. China is perceived as an example of a country from which trade technologies and various tricks can be transferred, with a high probability they will work in Russia as well. But this is not always and not entirely true, in relation to online trading it is not so at all, and here's why.

How the Apple online store works and why this is a unique case

Apple has become one of the pioneers of online trading, on the company's website you can order various equipment and get it at home without any extra charges. Delivery times may vary from country to country, usually taking one to two business days. In Russia, this is about 4 days, which, if the price is equal, makes buying in other places more interesting. But what is typical, the company's online store gives all sorts of goodies, such as free engraving on metal surfaces.

Apple has become one of the pioneers of online trading, on the company's website you can order various equipment and get it at home without any extra charges. Delivery times may vary from country to country, usually taking one to two business days. In Russia, this is about 4 days, which, if the price is equal, makes buying in other places more interesting. But what is typical the company's online store gives all sorts of "goodies", for example, free engraving on metal surfaces.

Unfortunately, the Russian Apple store is very different from its American counterpart, and this difference is not at all in prices, but in the supply chain. Initially, Apple maintained warehouses in the United States from which goods were sent to customers. As you understand, the cost of maintaining a warehouse should be taken into account in the price of the goods, this is not so noticeable on premium goods, but it is still minus the company's profit. When selling directly to the end consumer, Apple receives the entire margin from the device, not sharing with intermediaries. And it is always profitable, for any company and anywhere in the world. Now imagine that you remove one more additional link - local warehouses in the country, and immediately send the device from production to the door of the buyer. It sounds very simple, but it is the most difficult logistical and organizational task.

Firstly, you need to have a special sorting warehouse in the factory or nearby. Secondly, you must reach an understanding with the customs authorities of the countries to which the delivery is made, and your goods must have priority of passage, they should not be subject to additional requirements. Third, you must have a sophisticated computer system that can predict delivery to hours, not just days. For example, on September 16, deliveries of the iPhone 6 began from China to online buyers in the United States, their parcels will arrive on September 19, the day the sales start. Difficult? Damn hard.

But what does Apple gain from such a delivery system? A lot of things. Firstly, the company does not spend money on huge transshipment warehouses, delivery services take on this problem and immediately deliver the goods. In fact, for Apple, the cost of shipping a particular device from China is about the same as what it cost to ship within the US and maintain warehouses and other infrastructure. Moreover, delivery times have been reduced. This is a direct-to-consumer delivery, but this method does not work in a number of other countries.

Of the advantages for the manufacturer, there is also the ability to quickly respond to changes in demand, it is possible to reduce the volume of production of specific products without putting them in warehouses. And this is one of the huge advantages of Apple over other companies. The same iPhone 5C, which was originally produced in huge quantities, did not become a bestseller, and its production was screwed up, selling what had already been produced for several months.

In theory, Apple should have carried this ideal model to every country where they are present, but real-world restrictions intervene. Not everywhere customs clearance can be carried out so easily and simply, often goods for individuals from companies are checked even more strictly than wholesale lots. Another point is the lack of guaranteed delivery on time. As soon as Apple encounters problems with delivery services, they start looking for workarounds. And for Russia, partnership with local companies, severe penalties if the goods are not delivered on time, and other “little things” become this way. As a result, we have that the example of Apple is very attractive, but it is difficult to repeat it outside the USA, and other companies do not have such a sales volume or such an economy is unprofitable for them, since the goods are noticeably cheaper.

Problems of an online store in Russia - couriers and delivery

Anyone who has shopped online in Russia knows a few things. Delivery of goods occurs at best the next day, delivery time can be selected only in a wide range, or by specifying a specific hour, you will delay it for another day or two. And it doesn’t matter whether the company maintains its own delivery service or the partner delivers the goods, the reality is that no one can provide exact dates within the same city.

There are many explanations for the fact that delivery times are “burning”, from banal traffic jams in large cities to broken roads in smaller settlements. But the reason is not this at all, but the general inefficiency of logistics, even within the same city. The cost of delivering valuable cargo, for example, a mobile phone, ranges from 200 to 300 rubles in large cities, 100-200 rubles in other settlements. Sometimes this shipping cost is broadcast to the buyer, and then he chooses "self-collection". The surprise of the situation lies in the fact that in Russia the “self-delivery” option is one of the most popular. The smaller the city, the more popular this option is. Nobody wants to wait for a courier who arrives at an incomprehensible time, and often they charge extra for this.

I would like to note very briefly that in Russian realities there are still two types of market - gray and white. On the gray market, goods are not certified (what is called “non-PCT” for phones), cost 20-30 percent cheaper, but do not have a company warranty. White companies are forced to fight the gray market, so they often set prices in their online stores at different levels, they differ from city to city, but even in the same city, the price in a regular and online store can be completely different. Remember the postscript "The price is valid only in the online store!".

Therefore, pickup is a form of buying from a physical store, but at a lower price. This format has nothing to do with online trading, in fact, it is only an order and payment for goods via the Internet. Often, the goods are also paid for in cash when buying at the pickup point, it happens.

Almost no one can withstand the classic and pure example of online trading in Russia, the same Ozone survives, but as a result suffers losses.

Why are courier services so inefficient even within the same city? The answer to this question, oddly enough, is to be found in the informatization of our society and the management systems of such organizations. For a courier service to be effective, it needs several components. Let's take a look at each of them.

  • Own fleet of vehicles - not all goods can be effectively delivered by public transport, many deliveries are more profitable to carry out by cars.
  • A large staff of couriers are full-time, not piece-work. This ensures the constant presence of people, guaranteed access to work and the ability to plan delivery routes.
  • An information system that has data on the routes of couriers and, as a result, calculates delivery times and controls the passage of goods.

To begin with, for many, a courier is a temporary and low-paid job. A typical N-Store courier in Moscow (Nokia brand store) is a visitor from Central Asia, who speaks with a strong accent, he has a bag with various phones (from 10 to 20 pieces), he travels by metro along a certain branch.

When the courier is busy, he physically cannot be in time everywhere and very often misses the delivery time. This is the problem of the courier service, which is trying to earn as much as possible. And they can be understood. Investing in cars or creating a permanent staff in the background of logistics services in cities is not profitable. Not to mention information systems for tracking couriers. This niche is not occupied by anyone and is waiting for its hero, who is ready to invest millions, but build a business that works like clockwork. I think that this person will get rich, but before that he will suffer losses for several years, until he reformats the Russian market for himself.

European experience shows that large delivery services are maximally equipped with scanners and GPS trackers or phones, the office always knows where the courier is and when the delivery will take place. Moreover, buyers can sometimes track the movement of the courier. Of course, these are additional costs that affect the cost of delivery. But, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, it completely coincides with how much delivery in Russia costs. That is, the cost of services is approximately the same, and given the difference in the economic level, the cost of transport and other aspects, in Russia it is even more advantageous. The problem is that none of the serious players is engaged in logistics at the city level, there are tasks on a larger scale, something that brings more profit. And before that, the hands do not reach.

The next characteristic moment for Russia is to pay attention to how online stores are opening in our country. They go to specific cities, and you can read press releases about it every day. The reason is simple - in order for a store to trade, it needs a warehouse, which opens in a particular city. That is, a classic retail model is being built, only without a regular store, but with the last mile using couriers or pickup from somewhere. Why is this happening?

The answer lies in the fact that there are almost no strong and accessible logistics services throughout the country. We need logistics retail, the role of which is played by the US Postal Service in America, and we should play the Russian Post, which is funded by the state. But the fact that parcels arrive within the country at random times, the subsidiary express service does not operate throughout the country and the cost of its services is quite high, all this plays against the development of the online trading market. In fact, each online store is forced to decide how to deliver goods to another city. I watched with my own eyes how an order from Vladivostok for a top-end tablet caused regret in the online store and a refusal to deliver the product for free - the shipping cost is too high. There are many such examples. The lack of developed logistics within the country is the main problem facing any online store. But even this is only part of the problem.

Weighing goods, sending by parcel post and other tricks

In the last reincarnation, MegaFon's online store was the same store, but from Zoom. This store was engaged in the trade of telephones, accessories and was one of the strongest in Russia, although not the largest. The reason for his purchase was those technologies that differed from the market at that time. Firstly, inside the store, all goods were included in the internal catalog, where the equipment, box dimensions (they were measured), and the weight of the package (also measured) were indicated for it. Secondly, the guys wrote a software in which, upon receiving an order, the delivery cost was immediately calculated (depending on the selected goods, their weight was taken into account). Today it sounds like a kindergarten or a simple task, but it is still not implemented in most stores.

Once I came across how several large online electronics stores work, and plunged into a small branch of hell or Russian Post, whichever you like more. Order letters that had individual numbers and such just came to the company's mailbox, where they were sorted by people by hand! There was no system, discounts were issued according to the client number from the database and were calculated manually in 1C. That is, a lot of unproductive manual labor, which was spent on something that can be automated. And this is how the vast majority of small-sized online stores work - it's manual labor with all the ensuing problems.

Automation is always good, but you need to add a really working structure to it, which cannot be described by several people. That is, automation should affect accounting, partner companies (for example, logisticians), the internal procedure for issuing goods from a warehouse and delivering them. The information system should take into account all the features of the company, and this is always an atypical solution that needs to be customized for a specific company and its features. Unfortunately, standard solutions "out of the box" almost do not exist. In fact, many companies offer such solutions, but in real conditions they need to be finished with a file.

I don’t know how things are now, but the lack of such an information system in the Softkey store at one time led to the fact that after paying for the program, you had to wait a few days until you were sent access to it (the key). I always felt like a complete fool when I was offered to pay with a card, and then wait a couple of days for a de facto virtual product. It was easier to buy somewhere else, not there. It's all about the information insufficiency of the business and the processes in it.

Unfortunately, for many online stores, as well as large sites, online trading becomes a screen for a completely different business, and it is also worth mentioning.

Black cash - real money online

Sales of goods via the Internet allow you to receive cash that is not recorded anywhere, that is, the company can accumulate cash. In turn, they can take bribes, solve problems, simply save for a rainy day by the owners - you can think of a lot of ways to use it. It's just money.

The scheme always looks very simple - a carousel is created from different LLCs, PHIs and the like. You order in the Horns and Hooves online store, they bring goods from another legal entity, and the average period of its life is calculated in months. There is no know-how here, but the most important thing is that this is a profitable business, and it has almost nothing to do with trading in electronics or other goods. Companies that cash out through goods are ready to sell them with a minimum margin or no markup at all. Over the past year, I have come across examples of several unknown companies that sold computers and other equipment at two prices - the normal, market value for cashless payments and a reduced cost equal to the purchase price for cash. There are similar schemes.

For those who arrange carousels and sell goods from different legal entities, any traces are a death sentence. Therefore, for such companies, the development of information systems is contraindicated. Sometimes it gets along with legal business, and it's interesting to look at such a spike, especially when the most important notebook in the world is lost, in which all sales over the past week were taken into account.

In my opinion, the existence of this parallel universe is a block factor for the development of civilized retail, since profit comes not from the fact of sale and markup on goods, but from a completely different operation. Customer satisfaction fades into the background, the main thing is that he gives the money in cash. In one form or another, most of the companies in the market play it. But since the topic is sensitive, let's leave it aside. I described how it happens, and I won’t stir up further, for those who are interested, they can find quite funny stories about this side of the business on the net.

Why won't the Chinese distribution model work?

Several companies that have built a successful business in China with millions of online sales are trying to enter Russia. Some want to repeat their Chinese experience. And all of them do not understand the simple thing that there is no well-established logistics system in Russia. Their hope and hope for the Russian Post looks like a mockery, they really don’t understand why the state post in China costs a penny, works on time, and in Russia, which they consider to be much more developed in many aspects, everything is exactly the opposite. It is difficult to explain, but in the end it is possible.

The Chinese model is a lot like how Apple operates, but within the same country. Cheap government mail, which is predictable, is another success factor. Without them, it is impossible to repeat the Chinese experience. And even the Indian experience is unrealistic to repeat in our realities.

It is necessary to build local warehouse hubs, covering the main cities. At a minimum, a dozen warehouses will be needed for the whole country, as a result, an information system is needed that tracks the goods in these warehouses, etc. Overhead costs rise sharply - there must be people in these warehouses, at least a security guard, a storekeeper, a loader, etc. That is, these are all costs that you invest in the cost of the goods. And the fabulous price that you predicted suddenly cannot be obtained. It turns into a completely different value, not so tasty. And then the question arises - why are all these problems needed, if there are already companies where you can instantly stand on the shelves and get real sales. Albeit with a smaller margin, but it will be here and now.Of course, strategically, each company plans and will develop its online store, this is ultimately correct, and this approach is based on common sense that someday supply chains will improve in Russia. I believe that someday it will happen. Moreover, online stores have been talking about this for the last 10 years, which is just about - and good logistics will appear. It is a pity, but the speed of development of these services is such that as long as the state takes the position of a monopolist, there will be no improvements in this direction. We need to develop private delivery of goods to other cities, regions and with the support and participation of the state. Attempts to keep the Russian Post from falling only lead to the fact that the huge online market cannot develop normally and quickly. On the other hand, there are many other problems in this market, and delivery is a serious, but not the biggest obstacle. It may seem a bit harsh to you, but there is no full-fledged Internet commerce at the country level in Russia. Individual examples only confirm this rule. Fragmented, disparate cities and regions in which there are pockets of selling goods via the Internet. And at the same time, people, as before, choose self-delivery. Here is such a sad story about online.

Tell your stories about online shopping in the comments, both from the side of the buyer and the seller. I am sure that many will think that the article has exaggerated a lot, but there are comments for that to say how wonderful everything is in the Danish kingdom. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and for taking the time to share your experience.