International Food

International food firms targeting South Korea’s booming e-commerce sector urged to localise

South Korea’s e-commerce sector has undoubtedly grown significantly​ since COVID-19 hit the region, but according to local trade consultancy firm KOISRA’s Founder and CEO Eyal Victor Mamou, local consumer preferences in and of themselves had already been pushing this growth.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 helped to boost this e-commerce trend and caused it to skyrocket, but bear in mind that this boost was seen not just in South Korea but also worldwide and South Korea, compared to other places, did not have a complete lockdown,”​ Mamou told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“So this means people were still able to go around and buy things offline as compared to places under lockdown like Malaysia, but e-commerce here still grew phenomenally in 2020 and government data says it’s not the fourth largest worldwide.

“Our research has also found that if going by per capita transactions, South Korea is actually at the number one spot worldwide right now, so that shows just how much value and potential this market has.”

According to KOISRA’s data, in 2020 per capita online transactions in South Korea topped the list valued at US$2.85bn, followed by the United Kingdom at US$2.64bn, the United States at US$2.39bn, China at US$1.62bn and Japan at US$1.12bn.

“So per capita, South Korea e-commerce transaction volumes are double that of China and also more than that of Japan,”​ said Mamou.

“Essentially, e-commerce has become a habit here, and there’s really no going back to before – and there are many opportunities for food companies to take note of here.”