One decade after it first entered the Russian market, fashion retailer Zara launched online sales in the country this past summer. Based on the brand’s international IT platform, the site’s functions and design do not differ from those offered to Zara aficionados in 21 other countries where online sales are also available (Western Europe, North America, Poland, China, and Japan).

Russians can settle their online purchases by cash on delivery — which is the rule in Russian e-commerce as far as physical goods are concerned — or by bank card or via Qiwi Wallet, a popular Russian electronic currency.

Qiwi’s cash-in kiosks and virtual currently WebMoney can also be used, even though these payment methods are are mysteriously difficult to locate on Zara’s site. Neither Yandex.Money, the most popular Russian e-currency, nor PayPal, which has just been introduced for domestic operations, are offered.

Zara promises to deliver purchases anywhere in Russia in two to seven business days, depending on the area. This promise is unlikely to be fulfilled in many small Russian cities since the only delivery option available is the Russian Post, which delivers parcels in weeks rather than days.

Inditex, Zara’s mother company, first entered Russia in 2003, during a period of strong commercial expansion. Zara was the first brand to arrive in Russia, which was followed progressively by Inditex’s seven other retail formats. All eight brands are currently present in Russia: Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, and Uterqüe, with a total of 355 stores in more than 30 cities, Zara’s press service told East-West Digital News.

However, the press service declined to comment on online sales.

With the exception of mail order companies such as La Redoute, the Otto Group, or Yves Rocher, which began developing online business in the late 2000s, Western retailers were absent fom the Russian e-commerce scene until very recently. Auchan’s online sales, launched in 2010, have been limited so far to a few product categories.In early 2012, Benetton discreetly started online operations under the brand However, many players are now preparing their online migration.

This story originally appeared on EWDN. Copyright 2013

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.