Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Post-Pandemic Russia Sees Massive Expansion in eCommerce, Digital Marketing and Digitization of Services


Post-Pandemic Russia Sees Massive Expansion in eCommerce, Digital Marketing and Digitization of Services

Even before the pandemic, the Russian online retail industry was already growing at a decent pace. However, the surge experienced from mid-2020 onwards has been unprecedented in its magnitude. This in turn is hyper-boosting growth across several sectors of digital commerce. This is a trend worldwide, as billions of global customers are now relying more on eCommerce than ever before. 

Even then, the development was especially evolutionary for the Russian online industry as local eCommerce overcame several obstacles in a matter of months, which had previously impeded the sector’s growth for many years prior to 2020-21. For example, eCommerce companies expanded their delivery range to include several sections of the country that were not previously included within their delivery range.

Expansion of Delivery Range

The far eastern regions such as Chukotka were for the first time included within online delivery ranges in 2020. The extreme cold temperatures (below -50°C/-58°F), high, freezing winds, wintertime blizzards and snow blocked, undermaintained roads had kept them out of delivery range previously, but not anymore. There are several factors that are allowing Chukotka and other remote areas in Russia to gradually become a part of the eCommerce zone. The most prominent of those factors are:

  • An ever-growing need for regular home deliveries to keep covid from spreading.
  • The same need providing enough incentives for brand new, local eCommerce companies to pop up.
  • Strategic investments made by the large Russian online retailers to create local warehouses, processing centers and delivery points.
  • An active effort by the local authorities to keep delivery routes open even in times of heavy snowfall.
  • The scope of finding and creating job opportunities in the middle of a financial crisis caused by quarantine measures.

2020 was when all this was still taking shape for the first time, so it wasn’t until late last year that the efforts began to truly pay off. In 2021, however, several more regions in the vast Russian countryside will be added as deliverable locations.

Expansion of Digitized Services

Digitized services were almost completely absent in remote areas, but that too has begun to change. In the case of premier cities where the latest online services were already available, the difference has been quite profound, but mostly in terms of quantity. For example, digitized medical services such as online consultation over a video call, protected transmission of EHR, and secured delivery of diagnostic reports via email were already available. However, they have now become the norm for most people. This allows both patients and medical staff to avoid as much exposure as possible, thus minimizing their chances of contracting the virus.

Similarly, official work that does not require the physical presence of employees at site has also been digitized for the most part. Digitization is now applied within such a vast number of industries and in so many ways that it would be impossible to list them all here. What can be concluded from the developments is that all SaaS and other assistive digital service sectors which are facilitating this communication between the business, their employees, and the customers are booming.

For example, Zoom is now the leading video conferencing and office platform services provider in not just Russia, but pretty much the entire world in 2021. The company managed to pull off an astounding figure of 326% sales boost last year, with a reported profit of $671.5 million in 2020. Considering that Zoom Video Communications had pulled in a profit of only $21.7 million last year, these surprising figures stand as a testimonial to how much digitization has expanded globally in less than a year’s time. Even the ongoing conflicts between Zoom and the Russian authorities has created opportunities in SaaS sectors. Apparently, the government is looking to fund multiple local initiatives so that they can grow and become serve as possible alternatives to Zoom in the near future.

Expansion of Digital Marketing

One of the main reasons why Zoom managed to pull off what it did was immaculate digital marketing. It is true that they were providing crucial digitization services, but they were neither the only company in the market, nor were they at the top at that time. It was a combination of brilliant digital marketing strategies that provided them with the exposure they needed to utilize business opportunities.

In fact, intelligent digital marketing strategies have so far been responsible for fueling almost every boom and surge experienced by online companies that grew even during these trying times. Consequently, so did the digital marketing industry as a whole, and perhaps more so than any other. Taking a quick look through the following should help in understanding the connection with better clarity:

Primary medium for exposure - Every SaaS provider and eCommerce company was, and still is, looking for quick exposures, so that they too can take advantage of the growing market demands. Digital marketing is the primary medium for marketing in this new online business environment since offline marketing is very unlikely to reach target customers any time soon.

Maximum exposure - On the other hand, as people continue to spend more time on the internet for work, entertainment, and communication, the opportunity for exposure via digital marketing mediums has never been better.

Analytical Accuracy – Although exclusivity and accessibility are responsible for creating the opportunity for digital marketing companies to succeed along with their clientele, accuracy is what separated the best digital marketing agencies from the rest last year. To succeed as an influential marketing force even now, a campaign must be planned on the basis of relevant, market data analytics.

Right now, when things are changing at a rapid pace, working in sync, those changes would only be possible when digital marketing professionals work in perfect collaboration with the company’s data analysts. Agencies that managed to pull this off the best for themselves and their clients were also the most successful in 2020.

The Emergence of Digital Marketing Analytics

The connection between digital marketing and data analytics should be evident by now, which is exactly what digital marketing analytics is. It can be best described as a cross-disciplinary role that provides three main benefits:

  • Data analysts find working with data-savvy digital marketers to be a much faster, quicker, and more productive use of their time.
  • Advanced courses in digital marketing analytics can even negate the need to maintain two separate departments.
  • The organization gets a much better ROI on marketing expenses due to the focused, data-backed nature of every campaign.

The Master of Arts in Digital Marketing Analytics program from Emerson College is a fine example of such advanced courses in data science, which are meant for experienced marketers. This cross-disciplinary knowledge is boosting the employability and potential income of digital marketers, allowing them to become an active part of the online business boom. Whereas a marketer was previously limited to only roles such as marketing specialist and content creator, a DMDA qualification opens their career up to more important and higher paid roles related to marketing research and analytics.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence Will be Profound in 2021

The online business boom is not only powered by the fact that some people are spending more time online, but also because a significantly higher percentage of the population is doing so. This situation is going to make 2021 an ideal year for improving AI-powered neuromarketing techniques. Neuromarketing is one of the latest marketing strategies where an advanced marketing algorithm learns to understand and predict customer behavior through exposure to countless sets of data.

The more data this intelligent program feeds on, the better it becomes at predicting and creating strategies to influence target customer behavior. It is not a rigid code either, as the in-built machine learning process is flexible and perfectly capable of making changes to its data interpretations, based on changing market conditions. 2020 has already been a good year for neuromarketing, but 2021 will add even more data to these marketing programs, improving them at a rapid rate.

At this time, neuromarketing is not perfect, but it is believed to be a highly potent opportunity, which could be able to analyze the human brain, its activities, and preferences. However, there is not much evidence to suggest how much more efficient neuromarketing strategies are, as compared to traditional digital marketing strategies.

Finally, social media as a part of digital marketing also deserves a mention. For example, TikTok tuned out to be the biggest social media platform in Russia last year, and there has been no sign so far to indicate that this year will not be even bigger for the platform. TikTok is experiencing an all-time high in terms of revenue generation and profit in Russia, next to only the US and Indonesia.

What makes TikTok so relevant this year is the fact that they have launched a new and unique advertising platform for Russian SMEs to take advantage of, meaning that it is no longer limited to young social media influencers alone.

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