The meteoric rise of Wildberries: An online giant with a department store touch

Moscow, March 31, 2021:It stands out with its pink and purple logo and its majority clientele of women. Wildberries is one of the few success stories of 2020.

This e-commerce giant, boosted by the coronavirus pandemic, experienced sales growth of 74 percent to $6 billion last year. The company registered nearly 1.6 million orders/day, double that of 2019 and employs 40,000 people.

E-commerce in Russia is booming and like the elsewhere on the globe, online sales exploded during the pandemic. Wildberries is one such success story of the crisis.

Customers place orders online, scan a code, receive packages from an attendant and head for changing booths. This is a local branch of the e-commerce giant whose steady rise to the top was built largely on physical locations uncharacteristic of a leading online retailer.

Though competition is stiff, with other players have entered the arena riding on the wave of the e-commerce boom. Another Russian e-retailer, Ozon group recently raised more than $1 billion on Wall Street and promises further expansion across Russia.

The founder, Tatyana Bakalchuk, who now tops the Forbes list of Russia’s richest women with an estimated net worth of $12.6 billion, was a teacher on leave in 2004 when she decided to become something more than just a mom. As the company expanded, she proposed an innovative idea for Russia: charging only once orders had been picked up to combat the mistrust of Russian consumers accustomed to scams.

Since then, Wildberries operates in a niche where customers get department store perks with an online retailer. Customers receive a quality product at an affordable price, across multiple product categories and fairly quickly. The approach has borne fruit and now Wildberries is operating across Europe, from France, Italy and Spain to Germany and Poland.

Variety is Wildberries’ competitive advantage, as it stands out with its pink and purple logo and its clientele made up of 70 percent women, who often make purchases for the whole family. According to Lyudmila, a regular customer,  “What’s really practical is that you can order everything from one place — even coffee.”

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