Russia is home to over 144 million people. The population is most dense in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which are described as Russia’s heart and head respectively. Together, they are the primary business hubs of the country!

Like many, Russia was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis, which lead to recession and a number of tough years. However, now the Russian economy is picking-up and the country is seeing steady growth of around 1-3 percent a year. And, with Russia playing host to the World Cup next year, many companies will be coming to country for the very first time.

Following Gelato’s entry to the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), country managers are weighing in on the keys issues to think about when ordering print in each region. Here is what you need to know when it comes to ordering printing in Russia.

Read more: What to think about when ordering printed marketing material in Brazil and China

Tariffs can make imports tricky

Unlike developing economies such as Brazil, which has traditionally been domestically orientated, Russia has a history of outside trade and importing goods from abroad.

However, a raft of coordinated sanctions have impacted Russia in more recent times. This has resulted in a shift towards domestic production and added layers of complexity when bringing materials into the country. This includes questions around how best to declare materials; it’s not always clear. For example, prints can fall under paper or marketing materials. Regardless, tariffs for bringing in prints can expect a markup of approximately 10-15%. Costs can quickly add up when combining the tax upon order, the shipping costs and then the additional fees to get the materials across borders.

As an example, we spoke to one person recently who has shipped in a small number of brochures and ended up paying EUR 200 just to get them through customs. For multinationals looking to routinely get goods into the country, the costs can spiral. Of course, this is on top of common customs issues such as delays and risk of damaged goods, which themselves encourage the over-order of materials ‘just in case’ and the inevitable waste.

However, as Gelato produces prints locally in Russia, intelligently allocating jobs to our professional network printers in the country, there is no need to import prints at all! Rather than needing to send physical materials across borders, print files are sent and then produced locally, leapfrogging the import challenge altogether.

Not many Russians speak English

The majority of Russians do not speak English. Even in Moscow and Saint Petersburg English is not widely spoken. Print materials therefore need to be in Russian. However, it’s not uncommon for marketing materials to feature poor translations. It’s painfully clear when multinational companies have relied on Google Translate.

It’s not just the content of the print materials that can be problematic. For those looking to independently print locally, it can be difficult to communicate with Russian printers. If reputable and reliable local suppliers can be found, they’re unlikely to speak English and we’re back to Google Translate again. Equally, just because an English speaking print house is found, it doesn’t mean they’re the best printer!

There is a wide selection of print houses in Russia, from the very poor to the very good. Gelato has already secured the best partners and provides complete price transparency. The Gelato Network of printers meets rigorous standards to ensure products are as close to identical as possible, no matter where in the world they’re produced. We also have people here on the ground to maintain and build those relationships. Gelato speaks the language of every country it’s in!

Digitization is high on the agenda

Russia, as a state, is going through the process of digitization. And many bureaucratic, paper based, document management processes are being replaced by digital processes. For example, in the past every shipment of physical goods had to be accompanied with three copies of papers (sometimes called Waybill). Each party needed a copy physically signed and stamped by sender, seller and buyer. Such processes put enormous document management burden on local businesses. But with digitization underway, the burden is being reduced. Gelato is a big advocate of fully digital document management, but also caters to legacy based processes to ease transition through digitization.

Specific but important considerations

The majority of local print houses in Russia are unable to receive payment from abroad due to the administrative burden of cross border currency control. Due to the international setup of Gelato’s operations, we can receive payments in 23 different currencies - including Russian Rubles and Euros - and can send invoices to local entities in local currencies with local VAT rates. It’s a big deal as it helps budget allocation, especially for international companies that are effectively in the startup stage in their Russian operations. It’s also beneficial for companies that don’t have local operations in Russia but which need prints on the ground for a trade show, for example.

Before Gelato, for multinationals looking to get prints on the ground in Russia, the starting point may have been Google, but Google is not the primary search engine in the country. Yandex, having concentrated on tackling the specifics of the Russian language from the start, gained a big foothold and is better indexed. Those outside of Russia rarely know this (they would have little reason to know!) but have suffered as a result.

For those starting as ‘outsiders’; delivery can also be daunting. There was previously only one state owned delivery company, but now delivery is 100% an open market and there are a lot of options available. At Gelato, we work with the best print houses AND the best delivery firms. By printing locally within Russia, delivery distances are shortened drastically, which itself means that materials can be ordered ‘on-demand’ and delivered quickly, eliminating the need to over-order and store materials ‘just in case’.

In fact, Gelato Globe users can see delivery distances of their materials cut by up to 90 percent and volumes reduced by 50 percent!

Read More: Why 90 and 50 will make a huge difference when managing your marketing material

Finally, Russians are known to be perfectionists when it comes to the quality of their print materials. For those ordering within the country, expectations are high. If for no other reason, that makes Gelato and Russia a perfect match!

Key summary

  • Print locally and reduce shipping distances up to 90 percent. In addition you can remove custom issues and custom costs
  • Local printing enables short-run, on-demand printing. Print what you need when you need it
  • The Gelato solution has easy-to-use interfaces, allowing distributed teams to easily manage printing over mobile