With an Internet penetration rate close to 90%, South Korea is considered the most connected country in the World. In fact, almost 9 Koreans out of 10 have a connexion or even just use internet on a daily basis. Because of these Wi-Fi access everywhere and the quality of its lines, the country spares no effort to remain at the first place. But in such a connected world, what about e-commerce?
INTERNET IN SOUTH KOREA
When travelling in South Korea for the first time and trying to get information about the country, it is not rare to find reviews talking about how easy it is to connect to Internet there. Indeed, Korea is connected everywhere and all the time. The railway network and metro lines have their own Wi-Fi, giving the passengers the chance to enjoy the trip on their smartphones; most of the coffee shops and restaurants also offer a personal connexion and even the streets of Seoul have their Wi-Fi.
But in this case, how do Koreans use all this Internet? This is not a secret that the population of Korea is really into social networks. Really often in the metro, you can observe that almost everyone is checking their Facebook or Instagram account, if not texting on the Korean number one app KakaoTalk.
Apart from social networks, Koreans discovered -thanks to the Internet- the online services such as food delivery (which a lot of restaurants or fast-food chains are offering to their customers) but also the e-commerce.
South Korea is famous for being a pretty safe country in Asia. Therefore, we can imagine that Koreans usually don’t hesitate to order online, enter their credit card numbers and exact address and wait for the delivery. Talking bout delivery, Koreans are lucky because this one happens to be quite fast and effective. In fact, a lot of Koreans are ordering online and we can easily figure it out when living in the country: it is usual to see lots of packages in front of the doors, waiting for the owner to pick them up.
Because of its internet connexion and its strong technological 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, when it was at 19.12 billion U.S. dollars in 2016.
The most popular online shopping categories are online travel arrangement and reservation services, home daily products, electronics and appliances but also fashion, apparel and cosmetics.
TRENDS OF 2018
With Samsung Pay and Kakaopay, Koreans are now used to pay with the help of their mobile phones or via an application. The development of mobile phones in South Korea was fast and has not finished to grow with the years. Thus, in 2018 we are assuming a strong increase of online purchases made directly from smartphones or tablets. Projections show that South Korea will have this year the fifth most important sales volume right after United Kingdom, China, Norway and Finland.
Morevover, the country is now mastering Artificial Intelligence and the system of Personal Assistant as we can see for example from the Kakao speaker released at the end of 2017, answering your requests only thanks to your voice. Even though those voice commands were initially installed to help people in their daily lives, a new opportunity is opening to the country: the voice commerce market. Back last April in Korea, Samsung Bixby made the order and payment of your Starbucks drink possible, simply using your voice and your phone.
Several trends are coming for 2018, and South Korea is now holding all the cards to continue writting our future.