Russia Plans Postal Reform That May Help EBay Speed Up Shipments

Russia plans to revamp the postal system next year to boost the country’s $10 billion Internet commerce business and help companies including EBay Inc. (EBAY) and Ozon.ru to improve deliveries.

The Telecommunications Ministry plans to submit a draft proposal to the Parliament in the first half of 2013, spokeswoman Ekaterina Osadchaya said by phone today. The Russian Post should improve its distribution network for e-commerce, according to the ministry.

“The main problem with the Russian Post is its unpredictability,” Vladimir Dolgov, head of EBay for Russia, said in an interview. “Sometimes it delivers in decent time, but there have been cases when deliveries from the U.S. took six to eight weeks.”

Online stores have to spend tens of millions of dollars on transport infrastructure as they can’t depend on regular service from the Russian Post, according to Ozon.ru, the country’s largest Internet retailer. The state-run service has 42,000 branches to deliver goods across the world’s largest country by territory.

Ozon, whose revenue rose 78 percent last year, has 2,000 parcel-collection points in Russia and Kazakhstan and operates its own courier service to deliver goods to customers’ doors in large cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Expanding E-commerce

The new law would allow Ozon.ru to get a license as a courier operator, granting the company access to lower tariffs and preferential treatment from the Russian Post, Mikhail Gritsenko, head of business development at Ozon, said in an e- mailed response to questions.

EBay is seeking a logistics partner in Russia to speed up deliveries and the San Jose, California-based company may pick among courier operators in the future, according to Dolgov. The new legislation will also introduce fines for breaching delivery deadlines, which should induce the Russian Post to work faster, he said.

The Russian e-commerce market expanded 30 percent last year to 309 billion rubles ($10 billion), the Moscow-based Higher Economic School said in a study Oct. 10. That would rise tenfold by 2015 should the share of e-commerce in Russia rise to the level of the U.S., where it accounts for 10 percent of total retail sales, Telecommunications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov said in a statement Dec. 14.

That would require a more efficient postal infrastructure, according to Nikiforov. The Russian Post is working with customs service and transportation companies on speeding up deliveries, Marina Goncharova, director for Postal Services, said in an interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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