Asia, in general, is a growing economy. And one on the frontlines is South Korea. If you think of its inspiration, the first thing that comes to mind would be K-pop or K-dramas. But those are not the only good reasons why Korea is a thriving nation. It is considered a wealthy country with high utilization of new and advanced technology, equipped with great internet networks. With a population of 60 million, the market within the country is dense enough to grow its own economy. But of course, you cannot detach the influence of Hallyu in its journey to globalization. For sure, the success of the K-pop boy group, BTS, and the Academy Award-winning film, Parasite, has a huge impact in expanding South Korea’s market reach.
Having such a huge market demand, strong purchasing power, and high usage of new technologies, South Korea became one of the best shopping hubs in Asia. With 49.21 million internet users in January 2020 (source: Datareportal), they were able to introduce online shopping quite easily to local consumers. Their e-commerce industry is booming, even without the help of international platforms like Amazon or Lazada. South Korea’s e-commerce market ranked fifth in the world in 2020 with sales at US $104.1 billion, according to Yonhap News Agency. So, if you want to be a part of its market, here are the biggest local e-commerce websites to use:
According to Statista, G-market is the most popular online marketplace in South Korea, with 6.97 million unique visitors in March 2021. It was founded in the year 2000. And in 2009, it became a subsidiary of eBay, which helped the company expand further. Right now, more than half of Korea’s population uses G-market. And because of its friendly navigation system, it is the most recommended e-commerce site by locals to foreigners inside and outside of Korea. As they can also use the global version with English and Chinese as added languages. Conveniently, the payment options are both beneficial to locals and foreigners as they accept credit and debit cards from international and Korean banks.
G-market offers almost every product that you want to find like branded clothing, accessories, shoes, beauty and hair products, K-pop merchandise, electronics, foods, household supplies, and even baby products. It has a C2C or customer-to-customer segmentation, so regular sellers can trade products with other sellers or private individuals on the platform. You can enjoy coupons, other discounts, and free shipping if you continually use G-market.
11street is another popular e-commerce website in South Korea, second to G-market. It is a subsidiary of SK Telecom. And it was recently acquired by the global e-commerce giant, Amazon, which has been trying to enter the South Korean market for a long time. It turns out, the Korean government has a way of driving out foreign businesses from catching up with their local companies. With this, foreign businesses, even the biggest ones, will find it hard to enter the Korean market, especially with the language barrier. But somehow, Amazon found a way to connect with its Korean consumers through 11street. From their app or website, you can see the “Global Brand Imports” section where you can find products from foreign brands.
All kinds of products are available on 11street, too, as products from fashion branded clothing, beauty, sports and automotive, grocery, household and health, baby, electronics, books, pets, and furniture industries. They have at least 200,000 sellers who can accommodate your shopping needs. No worries, as the website offers English and Chinese languages on their global platform. Different types of payment methods are also available for both locals and foreigners.
Interpark has been operating since 1996 as both a shopping and auction platform. At first, it was mostly utilized by the entertainment and music industry as a record provider. As they expanded their business, they were able to create an English version website called Global Interpark. In this new generation of K-culture consumers, it is popular as a concert, musical, or event ticket seller and auction site. And they have been accommodating K-pop fans from all over the world, in at least 230 countries.
Aside from tickets, Interpark also offers a variety of products like furniture, appliances, computers, equipment, foods, clothing, accessories, collectibles, and even vehicles. There are also lots of KPOP products, mostly official ones like albums and concert merchandise. Surely, you will enjoy navigating its online marketplace as it suggests from its name “Interpark”, which is a combination of the words “internet” and “theme park”.
Koreans are known for their “palli, palli” (빨리 빨리) culture, which means that they want everything to be fast. It can be applicable to getting their packages from online stores as fast as it can. Fortunately, there is an e-commerce site, Coupang, that offers the fastest shipping service in Korea. It developed its own logistics system called Rocketday, which allows same-day deliveries, to cater to their customers better. And you can also buy a lot of products, even the branded ones, at a less expensive price!
Coupang is inspired by Amazon, founded by a Harvard University dropout named Bom Kim in 2010. It has a similar service to Amazon Prime or Amazon Fresh with its Rocket Membership and Rocket Fresh Delivery, where buyers can purchase fresh groceries in the morning and receive it in the evening. Everything is good as is, but the only downside is that it doesn’t have an English version website. Payment options are also limited to Koreans. But as their business grows, they can continually improve and amplify their services.
South Korea’s Naver Corporation can be compared to the world’s largest search engine site, Google. Naver is still the most used search engine in Korea. Aside from searching, it also offers an online marketplace called Naver Shopping. Unfortunately, they don’t have an English version site for foreigners. But you can always turn on the ‘translate to English’ button beside the website’s URL. With its wide reach in South Korea, they can offer a wide variety of products, too, like fashion clothing and accessories, cosmetics, home appliances, foods, sports equipment, books, and even have their Duty Free Shop section.
As five of the biggest e-commerce platforms in South Korea, they can put out any product to any customer both locally and internationally. Though some may not have yet developed their business to a wider target market, they are in the right direction to cater to their growing global market in the future. For now, you can use package forwarding services or personal shopping services from a third party like DELIVERED KOREA to buy legit Korean products from these online marketplaces. And you can guarantee a convenient and affordable buying experience.