How To Win Over (Very) Skeptical Russian Customers
For French-born Maelle Gavet, adapting to life as CEO of Russian e-commerce site Ozon--which is vying to be the nation's Amazon--involved some serious culture shock. She's recovered nicely:
"When online business first appeared, a lot of operations would take your order and then disappear,” says Gavet. Every single buyer gets a call from Ozon after placing an order, to build trust.
Rather than fight the trend, Gavet facilitated it by building a nationwide pickup system. At 2,000 facilities, customers can inspect their deliveries before paying.
Investors respect Gavet's strategy to ease people into e-commerce: Revenue jumped 84% to $303 million in 2011. Once a client makes multiple orders, an Ozon rep makes sure that everything's gone well and asks if they'd like to continue the calls, or if they're comfortable forgoing them.
Enrolls at École Normale Supérieure after being accepted on the second try and preparing for the selective exam for three years
Drops out of Normal Supérieure's prestigious program after realizing it wasn’t right for her
Starts an event-catering company; cleaning crew goes on strike, citing negligence
Joins Boston Consulting Group
Visits a small Russian online retailer called Ozon on a 4-week BCG project; Ozon offers her a job the next January
A version of this article appears in the June 2012 issue of Fast Company.