Odnoklassniki (OK), a major Russian language social network owned by Mail.Ru Group and sometimes called “Russia’s Facebook,” has launched a marketplace in Kazakhstan in a bid to challenge Chinese and US global e-commerce giants, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).
The OK marketplace intends to make available no less than 30mn items, including fashion items, electronics goods, home appliances, cosmetics, car spare parts and other types of goods.
“This launch and the integration with [the national postal operator] KazPost are a landmark stage for the development of our social network,” stated OK General Manager Anton Fedchin in a press conference in Astana.
Reminding that OK is available to users beyond Russia, he added: “I am glad that residents of Kazakhstan are in first place to enjoy shopping on the social network platform [immediately after Russian online consumers],” Fedchin said, after OK launched its e-commerce platform in Russia in the spring of this year.
OK users can choose a product, place an order and settle it without leaving the social network. Payments are made in tenge, the national currency.
Buyers can also view and evaluate products using video and photo reviews, share information on products, or recommend them to friends from the social network.
Thanks to the partnership with KazPost, Kazakhstani online customers will enjoy free delivery in up to 13 days across this vast country.
“The buyer has the ability to fully control the delivery process thanks to SMS notifications, a Telegram bot and the mobile application Post.kz. We also continue to actively develop our delivery network so that our offices and order points be within walking distance for the customers, or one kilometer,” said Azat Mashabayev Advisor to the Chairman of the Board at KazPost.
According to Forbes Kazakhstan (which does not cite its sources), e-commerce penetration is estimated at less than 3% in the country. This is approximately the same rate as in Russia, but well under the penetration rates observed in the most advanced countries of the world.
The local e-commerce market, which was estimated at some KZT180bn in 2016 (approximately $0.5bn), could reach up to KZT400bn in 2020 (a little more than $1bn at the current exchange rate). The number of parcels and small packages delivered by KazPost could grow fourfold between these two years, from 15mn to some 60mn in 2020.
Among the strongest marketplaces on the Kazakhstani e-commerce market are Aliexpress, Amazon and eBay. A local startup, Chocolife, has asserted itself as the market leader in flash sales and started expanding to new segments and services.