May 29, 2021 08:27
Koreans bought a record amount of products from overseas online in the first quarter of this year.
Online purchases from foreign shopping websites surged 44.2 percent on-year to W1.4 trillion and even 16.1 percent from the previous quarter, which is usually the shopping high season due to Black Friday and Christmas sales (US$1=W1,116).
Popular products increasingly include food and beverages, kitchen appliances, stationeries and camping gear as well as the more established clothes and home appliances.
This trend has prompted domestic e-retailers to offer proxy-purchase services. Coupang, which already covered U.S. online retailers, has now expanded to Chinese online merchants. SK Telecom's 11st plans to offer products from Amazon later this year, and Gmarket joined hands last year with the Italian Trade Agency to run a dedicated website for all kinds of Italian goods and started selling products from U.S. online retailer iHerb in February.
A main catalyst of the surge was improvements in delivery time, refunds and payment methods. Delivery periods have been shortened from two weeks to one, while delivery is often free for purchases over US$200.
Luxury goods are a perennial favorite, and now Koreans are less vulnerable to price gouging by the labels' Korean outlets. GS Shop and Lotte On have joined hands with foreign online retailers selling luxury products. Online luxury product retailer Guhada shows inventory in boutiques in real time and allows clients to track the delivery process to ensure authenticity.
Credit card companies are offering more mileage points on purchases at foreign online retailers or waive commission fees for currency exchange.
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