Leading Russia-based horizontal Avito and the Russian Post have launched a pilot for pay on delivery at post offices for goods ordered via the Avito Delivery service. Until now, buyers had to pay before delivery into an escrow account, with funds released to the seller upon receipt of the ordered items. If the buyer refused the goods on the spot, purchase and delivery costs were refunded, and the goods sent back to the seller.

Users will now be able to pay for goods ordered from a private seller through Avito Delivery after they have received and checked the parcel at a Russian Post branch. The new service is available for listings without a “14-day returns” tag. Both buyer and seller must have no more than three cash-on-delivery orders at a time. An order can contain only one item in the shopping basket with a value of no more than RUB150,000 ($1,500 U.S.).

The buyer will have 15 minutes to inspect the goods. If they accept them, the seller gets the money within 30 minutes.  If the merchandise is not suitable or does not match the description, the buyer can refuse it. There is no commission or penalty for a refund.

The Russian Post charges commission of 2.1% of the order value. The state-owned monopoly has been lobbying for a new tax on e-commerce businesses and marketplaces since it lost revenue from customers who had switched to the likes of Avito Delivery, Yandex Delivery, etc. Had the new tax been introduced, it would have shaved billions of rubles off marketplaces’ revenue. Classifieds and marketplaces lobbied hard against it and tried to find a compromise.

The Russian Post’s tactic has paid off: shortly before the deal with Avito it came to a similar arrangement with Yandex marketplace. As a result, the Russian Post is getting back at least some of its lost customers; and classified sites and marketplaces are spared the new levy. The loser is the buyer, who will have to pay commission to the Russian Post for purchasing goods on classified and e-commerce sites.

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