E-commerce in South Korea - Statistics & Facts

Due to strong technological and mobile adoption, South Korea is one of the biggest e-commerce markets worldwide. Industry figures suggest that the retail e-commerce volume in the country will grow to 32.56 billion U.S. dollars by 2021, up from 19.12 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. Online shopping in Korea is still enjoying double digit growth - in 2016, online shopping sales in South Korea grew 20.5 percent compared to the previous year. The most popular online shopping categories were online travel arrangement and reservation services, home electronics and appliances, and fashion and apparel.

As a consumer society with an internet penetration rate of close to 90 percent among the population, it is no surprise that e-commerce holds a strong position in South Korea. The country also boasts the highest e-commerce penetration in the Asia Pacific region with a 72 percent active online shopping reach as of the fourth quarter of 2016. The most popular online shopping property is online auction and shopping mall 11st.co.kr with more than 11 million unique monthly visitors in January 2017. 11st.co.kr belongs to SK Telecom, a telecom provider that is part of the SK Group, one of South Korea's largest chaebols and most valuable brands. Other competitive e-commerce brands include online shopping malls Lotta.com and GS SHOP, online marketplaces Gmarket and auction.co.kr (both belong to eBay), and social commerce brands Coupang and Wemakeprice. Coupang.com was also the leading online store based on net e-commerce sales in 2016.

Despite the strong e-commerce sales, South Korea only accounts for a small percentage of digital buyers located in the Asia Pacific region. As of 2016, digital buyer penetration in South Korea surpassed 61.7 percent of internet users.

Mobile retail e-commerce sales are also particularly strong in South Korea. In 2015, industry data suggests that 37.5 percent of online retail sales were generated via mobile device. Mobile shopping transaction volume amounted to 34.7 trillion Korean won in 2016, accounting for 53.46 percent of total online shopping value during that year. As of the fourth quarter of 2016, 55 of the population in South Korea have made a purchase via mobile phone.

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