Russian savvy against Western sanctions: how to buy imported goods

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Russian savvy against Western sanctions: how to buy imported goods
Russian savvy against Western sanctions: how to buy imported goods
7 April, 15:52Photo: Яндекс ФОТО
Sanctions are permanent. While there are no signs that clothing stores, familiar to everyone, will reopen soon, electronics sales will resume. Novye Izvestia found out what options there are to buy what you need, bypassing the restrictions.

Victoria Pavlova

Some are ready to come to terms with the new reality and radically reconsider their consumption, while others are looking for ways to circumvent sanctions. Loopholes have to be looked for, including for paying for subscriptions in mobile applications or professional programs. Options are not always the most simple and obvious, but they are. In order to maintain diversity in the domestic market, the Russian government even legalized "parallel imports", that is, it allowed the import of products without the permission of the copyright holders. And for the period from March 31 to October 1, 2022, the limit for duty-free import of goods into the Russian Federation has been increased from 200 euros to 1,000 euros.

If not us, then no one

Mikhail Mishustin approved the resolution, but this is not yet a guarantee that the goods will appear on the shelves. Firstly, the issue of pre-installation of Russian applications has not been resolved with electronics. The manufacturer himself should be involved in downloading the software required by law, but why should he do this if a decision was made to leave the Russian market. And for the sale of devices without Russian applications, a fine of up to 200 thousand rubles threatens. The question of warranty service remains suspended: who will carry it out with “parallel imports”?

You should not expect that online stores will look for loopholes in sanctions and bring clothes, equipment and others from eBay, Amazon and other trading platforms. With the unstable ruble exchange rate and the still uncertain purchasing power of the population, investing in such projects is too risky. In addition, as noted by the chairman of the National Association of Distance Selling Alexander Ivanov , domestic online stores will be busy solving problems with the supply of their usual assortment of goods:

- As for domestic online stores, we are all sitting on imports, and domestic stores will have a complete revision of their product matrix, since there will obviously be problems with imports, they will have to look for a replacement. It is difficult to say how e-commerce will work under these conditions, but there is no correlation between foreign and domestic e-shops. These are different niches for fundamentally different needs.

What to do in this case for those who are not ready to give up the usual imported goods?

Find an intermediary

The simplest way to circumvent sanctions is, however, also the most expensive. Intermediaries who have been working on the market for more than a year and have already acquired their own logistics are always ready to help. "Mail forwarders" (companies that have their own warehouses abroad to collect customer orders from online stores, and deliver goods to a buyer in Russia on their own without the participation of state mail) are even ready to buy any goods you like for you, independently solving problems with payment. Everything is as simple as possible. But you have to pay for convenience: redemption services cost an average of 10% of the value of the goods (often sets a minimum commission of $ 8-10), delivery of a small package weighing up to 1 kg will cost from 1800 rubles. excluding packaging, insurance and other possible markups.

help yourself

The stability of deliveries through mail forwarders is still in question: the European Commission has already approved a ban on the work of Russian transport companies in the EU. Intermediaries will certainly find a way out of the situation, but this will affect the price of their services. And people who are strong in spirit and ready to overcome obstacles in order to save money (there are probably many of them in Russia) can try to do everything on their own.

If you still want to buy real Adidas sneakers, and not Abibas from the local market, you will have to try to make a purchase yourself in a foreign online store. But you should understand that you will immediately face three main problems due to the current sanctions restrictions and the principled position of Western companies: how to register, how to pay, and how to deliver.

Problem one. Registration

Purchases in foreign stores occupied, as Alexander Ivanov notes, only a small part in Russia's e-commerce. This means that people have little experience in making such purchases. Often there are not even accounts - they will have to be created from scratch.

- Over the past 7 years, the volume of purchases in foreign stores has been at the level of plus or minus 3 billion dollars. Although the market during this time grew quite quickly. Currently, foreign stores account for approximately 10% of purchases. This is a very small share. For comparison, in the world about 15-25% of purchases are made in foreign stores.

Foreign online stores may not accept registration if you provide a Russian address and a Russian phone number.

Life hack: you can not tell the whole truth . When registering, you can specify any address that does not exist in Europe or the USA. The main thing is that the city name, streets and postal code (ZIP Code) are real. It is more difficult with a phone number - a confirmation code should come to it.

Life hack: use virtual numbers . In such a case, there are special services on the Internet that offer temporary (for about 20 minutes) phone numbers of most developed countries of the world. It is almost impossible to receive an SMS with a code to a free number - for this, too many stars must converge in the sky. Paid numbers work stably. Such a service costs on average from 6 rubles for a Russian number to 180 for a German one, which will be accepted even by the fastidious PayPal payment system.

The second problem. Payment

Just take and pay for the order with the usual Visa, MasterCard, Mir card will not work. Foreign services have stopped servicing, and Mir cards are valid in Russia and some countries of the EAEU. You can pay with cards of the Chinese UnionPay system abroad, but they may not work in foreign online stores - not all bundles of payment systems at banks have been set up yet. You can issue Visa or Mastercard cards, for example, in Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan. Only such a card tour for one person can cost 70 thousand rubles.

Life hack: use virtual Visa and MasterCard cards. In this case, virtual cards of foreign banks will help. The main thing is to find a service that, again, will not have claims to Russian citizenship. The Ezzocard service is not interested in your personal data at all - you can specify any fictitious name, but it will charge from $ 16.99 for opening an account. "Bankoff" will require you to confirm your identity with a document in English (for example, a passport), but he did not break off business relations with the Russians. Getting a card in this case is free, but Bankoff will catch up with commissions from 2.3% per transaction.

Life hack: use the closest crypto exchanges. You can replenish virtual cards of these services through cryptocurrencies. While the legalization of cryptocurrencies in Russia has not yet reached the opening of crypto-exchanges based on banks, a working option may be the conversion of money through the Belarusian crypto-exchange Currency.com. With it, there is the least chance of getting into account blocking, which foreign crypto-exchanges (such as Coinbase) sinned against Russians. You will have to replenish even a ruble account on a crypto exchange through a bank transfer. And this is again commissions - often from 1000 rubles. But, having topped up a virtual card, you can not only make purchases in stores, but also pay for subscriptions in the AppStore, Google Play, Adobe graphics editors, Google and Microsoft cloud services.

Problem three. Delivery

With delivery, everything is simple: either the store sends the goods by mail to Russia, or not. If regular delivery does not work, then you have a direct road to "mail forwarders". If your orders are not of a single nature, then it will be cheaper to pay and order delivery to the intermediary's address on your own than to pay a commission for redemption by a third party each time. Just remember there are shipping restrictions. You will not be able to send cosmetics, bags, jewelry and watches from the USA. Clothing and footwear must be no more than $1,000 per item. From Europe it will not be possible to send clothes, shoes, accessories, cosmetics more than 300 euros, electronics more than 750 euros, photo and video cameras more than 1000 euros. Customs will not let these goods through. According to Western officials, these are all luxury goods in Russia.

For every ban there is always a loophole. And in Russia, the traditions of bypassing artificially created barriers are especially strong. So, if you wish, you can buy almost any product (only the export limits for “luxury items” cannot be bypassed) and pay for any subscription. There would be money, time and patience for all this.

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