OPINION: It's 2049 in terms of online shopping in Russia

Anton Romanov
So, imagine ordering something online, getting it delivered to your door - and after inspecting it, deciding not to buy it after all and giving it back to the courier - all without having to pay a single cent! Well, in Russia you can!

Online shopping in Russia is something a foreigner will find difficult to grasp. While some of you may scoff or raise an eyebrow that there is internet at all (and cheaper and faster than the plan you have back home!) and that online stores are budding across the country in the last decade. So, why the need to tell you about it? Well, because unlike any country I’ve lived in or visited before - none have the option to order something online - without paying for it in advance!

Here’s how it works: say, you go online and after browsing the various options, decide to buy a pair of shoes. So, you order your size and select the date of delivery… and usually you’d then be taken to the payment section of your order in the West - but in Russia, you have the option of “paying upon delivery”! Yes, you read that right! And what’s even more amazing is, many stores offer you, in the example of a shoe order above, to select a couple of sizes - or even a couple of different styles - with your order, for measuring purposes (!) and final choice - again, without any advance payment! 

Right now, you’re probably thinking how on earth this kind of transaction, purely based “on faith”, could function properly? Wouldn’t prospective customers refuse to pay? Would there be rampant theft and fraud happening? Would couriers just run off with the goods? Well, these were also my concerns when I first encountered this online shopping phenomenon. But, it turns out, Russians are far more honest than you think (and now think of how well this could work in your own country!).

Another insane aspect, which I touched upon briefly earlier, is the option to TRY out clothing you have ordered - again, free of charge! Yes, you read that right, again! So, say, for instance, you make a large order on a site and the delivery guy brings all the goods to your door - he then gives you approximately 15 minutes to try everything on - after which you can say NO to all of it, and usually just pay for the delivery fee (which, in some cases, is now also free!) 

And while most of these online transactions require cash payment only upon delivery, many online stores have equipped their delivery guys with portable credit card payment machines - and, what, with the availability of touch cards, as well as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 when making an online purchase in Russia! 

Now, that said, most, if not all online electronic stores do require prepayment, but many do give you the option of testing the product (unpacking it and plugging it in/putting batteries in) before the courier leaves, so in case the product is faulty, he/she can take it back and the necessary re-order or refund can be made! 

Now, where else in the world could you find such customer-driven, super capitalistic approach to online shopping?

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