The fact that one of the fastest growing Russian online shopping sites is headquartered in Skokie, Illinois, probably says more about the realities of doing business in Russia than it does about the “World’s Largest Village,” as the Chicago burb fancies itself. But as BayRu’s rapid growth suggests, not being in Russia can be a big competitive advantage in some ways when it comes to doing business in Russia.
BayRu, named June’s “Startup of the Month” by the startup community Built In Chicago, basically acts as a middleman between online behemoths such as Amazon and eBay and Russian consumers. After an order is placed from the site’s massive catalogue, which features products from a bevy of American retailers, the item is shipped from, say, Amazon to BayRu’s warehouse in Skokie, where it’s re-packaged for shipping to Russia via carriers such as USPS, FedEx, and UPS.
Repackaging, the company has found, is crucial if orders are to survive the journey to the some 160 cities the company services in both Russia and former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. “We’ve got five years of experience of how things get damaged, dropped, and wet,” says BayRu CEO Aaron Block. “How you package these things makes a big difference.”