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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Virtual GUM Opens Its Doors Again

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On a virtual quest for more shoppers, department store GUM is expanding beyond its historic Red Square location and venturing into cyberspace.

The country’s biggest department store last week launched its new e-shop, (www.GUM.ru), offering many of the products that are available in its brick-and-mortar mall. The $2 million project features 50,000 products from almost half of the retail center’s tenant stores.

Rather than hold out hope of raking in profits through online shopping, owner GUM-Internet and developer RosBusinessConsulting planned the site as more of a marketing tool to lure people into the actual shopping center.

"There aren’t enough computers and money in this country to make a lot of profits with online shopping," said GUM-Internet head Timur Aitov. "The main goal of our project is to attract clients to the real building."

Hence the eye-catching extras: A girl on rollerblades wheeling around the mall with a camera on her head is available for rent to guide web surfers through the maze of stores — call her mobile and she’s your personal shopper for $10 an hour. There is also a web camera that records in choppy increments the daily happenings, and site visitors can vote for a monthly Miss GUM.

"We do not estimate a lot of cash from the Internet," said Dmitry Tunin, manager of RBC’s Internet solutions department. "That’s not the point. The point is to increase revenues of regular GUM."

By Tuesday it had registered just over 2,000 visitors, and Tunin expected 10,000 daily by the end of the year, about 80 percent coming from Moscow, where Internet use is disproportionately higher than the rest of the country. Online and offline advertising of the site should begin next week with an initial budget of about $200,000, he said.

Stage two is to integrate the trading systems of all GUM’s tenant stores with RBC’s existing system for GUM. Tunin said the first wave would be the 50 stores that GUM owns, with the other 50 that rent from GUM coming along later.

There is a 5 percent discount on all goods ordered over the Internet, which benefits consumers if their purchases are expensive enough to offset delivery costs. Buyers can pay with credit cards online or with cash upon delivery.

This is the second time that GUM has attempted to go online. The first, GUMinternet.com, was launched last year and failed miserably after only about 1,000 people visited in six months.