Insights into the growth of South Korean eCommerce with payment methods, target audiences, marketing, social media, economy and logistics all profiled

Economy

South Korea is home to 51.2 million people with a total GDP of 1.4 trillion USD and is ranked as the 14th richest country, according to the World Bank GDP per capita rankings. South Korea's GDP per capita is currently 27,023 USD and expected to reach 31,393 USD by 2021.

Digital User Insights

There are currently 30.5 million eCommerce users in South Korea, with an additional 1.33 million users expected to be shopping online by 2021. Four years from now, these 31.83 million eCommerce users will spend an average of 1023 USD online.

Dividing internet usage into age groups gives a better picture of the South Korean eCommerce market – 96% of 16-24 year-olds, 100% of 25-34 year-olds, and 98% of 35-44 year-olds log on daily. The older generations also log on regularly with 45-54 year-olds and over 55s showing a 93% and 87% daily penetration rate, respectively.

Product Categories

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Total South Korean eCommerce revenue across all product categories is 21.38 billion USD, and is expected to grow to 32.6 billion USD by 2021. Fashion is currently the leading product category in South Korea, accounting for 7 billion USD market share, followed by Toys, Hobby and DIY, which generates 4.9 billion USD in sales.

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By 2021, Fashion will still be the most purchased online category, with a value of 11.2 billion USD, and second favorite, Toys, Hobby and DIY, is expected to be worth 7 billion USD.

Logistics

In 2016, South Korea was ranked 24th in the World Bank Logistics ranking, above leading eCommerce markets such as China, India and Taiwan.

Preferred Online Payments

34% of South Korean shoppers use social media payment gateways when shopping online via mobile, and a further 29% prefer bank payment apps. Samsung Pay is also a popular online payment method in South Korea.

Where does South Korea buy from?

China supplies South Korea with 90.1 billion USD in imports – ranging from petroleum to electronics. South Korea's other key import partners are Japan (44.6 billion USD), the US (42.7 billion USD), Germany (20.2 billion USD) and Saudi Arabia (17.7 billion USD).

Internet and Device Usage

Internet penetration in South Korea is currently 89.3%, and should reach 91.6% by 2021. Smartphone penetration is a little less (80.6%), but is projected to grow to 85.4% in the next four years.

70% of online shoppers in South Korea shop online via desktop, a stark contrast to the amount of smartphone (25%) and tablet (2%) shoppers.

Marketing

Total marketing spend in South Korea has risen in recent years, as advertisers steadily invest more in digital advertising. In 2017, ad spend reached 8.84 billion USD.

Social Media

South Korea currently has 28.6 million social network users, a figure expected to increase to 31.8 million by 2021, thanks to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Kakaotalk, which are the leading social networks.

For more market insights, check out the eShopWorld series of blogs covering a range of emerging eCommerce markets.