South Korea has the seventh largest e-commerce market in the world and the third largest in in Asia. (China $563 billion, U.S. $350 billion, U.K. $94 billion, Japan $79 billion, Germany $73 billion, France $42 billion, and South Korea $37 Billion). This is thanks in large part to the great high speed internet connection available in Korea which has some of the fastest internets speeds in the world. E-commerce in Korea account for 10% of all retail sales and the number is growing every month as more and more customers become more trusting of internet transactions and delivery reliability.
The largest ecommerce category in South Korea is travel-related products and services, then comes clothing and fashion, and then household products. This data comes from KOSTAT, a South Korean statistics and analysis service.
Another reason for the growth of e-commerce in Korea is due to the fact that 60% of customers in South Korea use their smartphones to use the internet. This has lead to the increase for mobile commerce sales. Now all major e-commerce companies in South Korea have apps and websites.
WeMakePrice is a Korean E-Commerce site specializing in daily deals. The site has faltered a bit over the years in their goal of being the #1 e-commerce site in Korea. Currently they are the third-largest e-commerce site in Korea. They got sued by Coupang for what they called negative advertising tactics. Still WeMakePrice continues to get investments in hopes of expanding abroad. They are valued at around $2 Billion. WeMakePrice has a wide selection of products from clothes to beauty products to bottled water.
Auction Co. is an online E-Commerce auction company that was acquired by eBay in 2001. Auction.co.kr is more known as a price comparison site which makes it more than just an e-commerce destination for customers. They don’t have the sales or customers to compete with the top E-Commerce players in Korea, however they are known for offering the best deals buy bringing together more than 3,000 e-commerce sites to compare prices. The cheapest are listed at the top and Auction gets a commission for every referral. This does not just meant the big e-commerce sites but also small online shops. Auction is driven by their heavy user generated content from product reviews to expert comments.
11st was launched by SK planet to tap in to the growing e-commerce market in Korea. It started out in South Korea but has grown so much that it has expanded outside of Korea and into Asian countries like Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It is now the #1 E-Commerce site in Malaysia called 11st Malaysia. Users can choose their preferred currency while shopping on the site. They offer clothing, jewelry, groceries, electronics, just to name a few. They offer a points/mileage system where customers can use for discounts on their products. They offer international shipping as well as Paypal.
Coupang is considered one of the fastest up growing e-commerce companies not only in Korea but in the world. They weren’t always an e-commerce company, in the early years the company started out by just offering daily deals on services and products but started to make partnerships to sell items on the site. Coupang reportedly generates roughly 70 percent of its sales through smartphones. Now this e-commerce site sells curated content that range from baby products to event tickets. The company is valued at over $5 billion and CEO Kim Bom has gone on record saying the company will spend over $1 billion in the next two years to boost their already impressive delivery service “RocketDelivery”, which is known for its same day delivery. It already has 14 warehouses and plans to grow to 21 by 2017, to make shipping even faster. Coupang is estimated to be valued at $5 billion. The site currently is only available in Korean but has a very easy to use app.
Gmarket is a Korean online auction and shopping mall website, where people from all around the world, not just in Korea, buy and sell goods and services. It was founded in 1999 by Young Bae Ku and was later sold to eBay ten years later for $1.2 billion. The site is available in English, Korean, and Chinese and is known for being very easy to navigate and is known as a site where you can buy anything from protein powders to wedding dresses. You can find all kinds of items from rare to valuable. Buyers can bid as much as they want fro their favorite collectibles. Think of G-Market as a global yard sale/auction site. With that comes risk as there are many counterfeits and questionable listings which buyers must watch out for. Sellers usually don’t have to pay a delivery free for orders that happen within Korea. Gmarket also offers loyalty and discounting programs, called Gstamp and Smile Points, as well as monthly coupons for additional discounts. One unique discounting program is the daily drawings so customers can win more Gstamps and Smile Points. Customers can choose from a variety of payment methods from bank transfers to credit cards/prepaid cards.