The company behind www.vino-online.ru, called appropriately enough Dot, certainly believes that the concept will work, and has set about making the dream a reality in a very thorough manner.
The company first of all selected a partner, one of the largest Russian importers of alcohol around. This gave Dot access to the workings of the Russian market and of course the competitive advantages of scale. This meant that right away, Dot found a supplier capable of achieving low prices, extensive storage and a wide selection.
The company then added to these advantages its experience in IT technology, design and promotion of brands on the Internet. As a result, consumer can choose wines from what an easy to use electronic display. The company currently offers in the range of 800 alcoholic beverages at prices 32 to 45 per cent lower than in Moscow supermarkets.
"In our business we analyse solutions," said Roman Chukavin, sales manager of DOT company. "we know that it is not often easy to find a store where you can choose wines, order them, and enjoy the store design. We kept these things in mind while we were creating our own online wine store."
According to the developers, their project is the most professional store in the Russian segment of alcohol online stores. The store targets a wide range of consumers, offering products from a few to a thousand dollars.
"On 15 December one customer ordered 10 bottles of the most expensive cognac worth $3,000 a bottle," said Gleb Ivanyushkin, PR manager of Dot. "But before sending a courier the company decided to check that it wasn't a joke."
However, many specialists believe that Russian consumers will not easily accept online shopping. Sergei Moiseev, deputy director of Interfood, said that even stores without human sales personnel will not do well in Russia.
"In Novosibirsk, managers decided to open a modern high-tech supermarket," he said. "But people are scared to be face to face with robots; they need the human touch. After a while, the owner had to hire sales staff."
Nonetheless, the volume of electronic trade in Russia grew by 30 per cent in 2003 compared to the previous year and amounted to about $150 to 200 million, according to Russian minister of connection and information technology Leonid Reyman.