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Yandex announced earlier this week an agreement with MultiShip, a Moscow-based startup that aggregates offers from different shipment companies to help online retailers optimize their deliveries across the country.

In addition to acquiring a stake in the startup for “several millions,” the NASDAQ-listed Russian search giant has purchased MultiShip’s software platform for $1 million, with MultiShip’s developers joining Yandex’s development team.

The move comes as no surprise to observers of the Russian e-commerce scene. In late 2013 Yandex – whose price comparison platform Yandex.Market attracts an estimated half or more of all Russian online shoppers beginning their search for a product – announced new steps to transform Yandex.Market into a full-fledged and powerful marketplace.

From price comparison to delivery options

Not only is Yandex progressively switching to a CPO-based remuneration model and introducing payment functions, it is also aiming to help its users choose adequate delivery options, an industry report by East-West Digital News reveals.

“We will display accurate information on the final cost and period of delivery for orders – which is not always provided by the merchants themselves. For this, we’ll seek some information integration with delivery companies. Perhaps we’ll even allow e-shoppers to choose the most relevant shipment option for their order,” Alexander Feoktistov, head of marketing at Yandex.Market, told East-West Digital News in late 2013.

MultiShip appeared to be the perfect match.

Launched in 2013, this startup has made the aggregation of shipment and pick-up point services in the regions its main offer. It has signed subcontracting agreements with no fewer than 15 operators in order to provide online retailers with attractive alternatives to the Russian Post.

Among MultiShip’s partners are courier companies B2C-PL, Boxberry, CDEK, Courier Service Express, Maxima Express, and Pony Express, as well as pick-up point operators PickPoint and QIWI Post.

In addition, Multiship has developed solutions to parameterize delivery terms, display them in a customized way on a merchant’s website, and automate processes and cash flows with delivery providers.

Moscow startup vs. German giants

MultiShip, which claims to serve already more than 300 Internet stores, is not the only aggregator of delivery services. The service offer of eTraction, a part of the Otto Group, includes delivery services via third-party providers as well as marketing support along with the company’s core warehousing offer. These services, which were made available to third-party retailers only last year, are intended for major clothing, accessories, cosmetics, and perfume brands.

KupiVIP, the leading Russian fashion flash-sales site headed by German businessman Oskar Hartmann, launched a professional service offer as early as 2010. In the field of delivery, the company is sharing with third parties its in-house courier service in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In other cities, KupiVIP has developed partnerships with several hundreds of local delivery companies, in addition to SPSR, a major shipment company, and EMS, the express delivery subsidiary of the Russian Post.

Also competing with MultiShip is Soyuzgroup, a startup launched last year. The company combines the services of several delivery providers, among other e-commerce related services.

  • RUSSIAN E-COMMERCE REPORT – The total volume of Russian online retail reached $16 billion last year, up from $13 billion in 2012, not including cross border sales. In partnership leading universities and consultancies, EWDN has published an in-depth research on this industry, including a comprehensive review of the delivery options available to online retailers. To receive free insights or to order the full version (2014 edition), please contact us at report@ewdn.com.

This article originally appeared in East-West Digital News, our partner in Russia.

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