Kazakhstan 2014 | ICT | FOCUS: ONLINE SHOPPING

As the population of Kazakhstan becomes more tech-savvy and internet penetration increases across the nation, more of the population is looking to cut out the middle man and buy online.

Although global research firm eMarketer estimates that in 2014 business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales are likely to hit $1.5 trillion globally, Kazakhstan has a somewhat more modest figure for e-commerce sales, which stood at $300 million in 2013. However, it has every intention of taking a larger piece of the pie. According to the Kazakhstani government, it is hoping to increase this number 10 fold by the end of 2015. However, Kazakhstan still has some way to go before it will be able to reach this target and must address the issue of internet penetration if e-commerce is to really take off.

According to Ecommerce Europe's latest statistics, only 6.9% of the population is online, while only 7% of those make purchases on the web. If you compare that to its neighbor Russia, 20%, then the country has a little way to go. Still, there is a lot of hope for the future of the sector. Namely, the high number of smartphone users in the country. Other factors that will likely help boost penetration are the increasing popularity of buying airline, bus, and train tickets online. In addition to this, some of the country's major electronic retailers, including Alser, Technodom, and Sulpak, have also been experiencing booming sales through their websites. Market experts are predicting the sales of music, books, and movies to take off in the coming years as the culture of online shopping becomes more ingrained in society. Through 2014 and beyond, sales of furniture, home appliances, and interior items are expected to grow, especially with brands such as Ikea increasing in popularity.

As confidence in the system continues to improve, customers are beginning to use a variety of products and services. Among private individuals, the penetration of internet banking has reached 10%, and as the market and the country develop, there is a growing trend for customers to turn to online banking, with more and more people preferring virtual payments to visiting a branch.

In an effort to increase confidence in e-commerce as well as reach the government's targets, Kazakhstan's e-Commerce Center was set up by the Ministry of Finance. The Center was created with five main goals in mind: to ensure efficient and transparent strategic planning and management, eliminate duplication functions, improve the productivity of those responsible for the strategic planning of budgets, reduce the time needed to obtain necessary information, and monitor the strategic plan. The e-Commerce Center was set up in line with international best practices to help regulate the market through efficient methodologies and the use of advanced software.