Russian shoppers clicking on Taobao
Shopping fan Marina Kobylenko Viktorovna, who lives in Russia's Kaluga, is delighted after receiving her goods she bought online from China.
She bought decorations and gifts for her family for New Year.
Marina, 34, loves buying products on Taobao.com, China's leading online shopping platform. She has been buying products for five years. She buys clothes, bags, decorative items, toys and electronic goods about once a month.
"Chinese commodities are cheap and of good quality. All I need to do is sit in front of a computer, find what I want, and click," she says.
The light goods industry in Russia is not well developed, while China boasts lots of products with price advantages, says Xiao Haikun, a public relations officer with Alibaba, parent company of Taobao.com.
The number of Russians buying goods from China, especially the young, has been increasing. Statistics from Taobao.com show that about 2 million U.S. dollars worth of goods were sent to Russia through the platform in February last year. The figure doubled in May.
Clothes, shoes, bags, mobile phones, tablets and household items are popular with Russian shoppers, Xiao points out.
Strategies on how to shop online from China are available on Russian website forums.
Russians are told that shops in Guangzhou and Shanghai are better for clothes and shoes, while retailers in Shenzhen offer a wide variety when it comes to electronic appliances.
Google translate allows Russians to better understand strengths and weaknesses of products they are buying.
Russian agents help shoppers buy goods online and profit from service fees or buying low and selling high. Consumers do not have to worry about cross-border payment and logistics.
On Russia's largest social networking website VK, if you input the word "taobao", 4,600 groups appear. Each group has 300 to 300,000 members.
Aleksey Kolmuayev, 36, who lives in Yekaterinburg, is an agent.
"It usually takes the mail system about a month to transport goods from China to Russia, but now it takes about two weeks as I have been working with a logistics company. If shoppers do not receive their goods, I refund them," he says.
Ivan Davidovich Karakhan runs a shop in Kolpino, a suburb of St Petersburg. Online shopping has saved him a lot of money as he rarely needs to fly to Beijing to buy goods.
Increasingly, businesspeople are replacing flights between China and Russia with a click of the mouse.
A logistics base in Suifenhe, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, is being built. It will cover 25,000 square meters and is expected to boost logistics between the two countries.
However, booming e-commerce has led to fewer Russian tourists coming to shop in China, argues Shi Xiaoxing, manager of east Russian regions with China International Travel Service Limited.
China-Russia trade in Jan.-Nov. stood at 81 billion U.S. dollars, up 0.5 percent year on year. But the growth rate was about 10 percentage points lower year on year, according to China's General Administration of Customs.
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