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South Korea has an active ecommerce market that continues to see significant growth. Statistics Korea (KOSTAT) found that total ecommerce grew by 14.5% in 2012 to reach KRW1,144.69 trillion—more than $1 trillion—with the vast majority of spending going to the business-to-business (B2B) sector.
The biggest growth was in the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) segment, which rose by more than 20%, as more individual sellers conducted direct digital transactions with buyers. Despite its already huge presence, the B2B sector showed the second best performance, growing 15% over the year.
Combining the business-to-consumer (B2C) and C2C categories, KOSTAT found that travel was the fastest-growing consumer category as well as the largest. It surpassed clothing and accessories for the first time in 2012 to become the No. 1 consumer product ecommerce category. Food and beverage, a middling ecommerce category in terms of absolute sales, also made a gain of 23%. Books, software and flowers all declined.
For B2Bs, manufacturing continues to be the biggest category by a wide margin, and the sector growing fastest. Ecommerce sales in manufacturing alone in 2012 totaled KRW750.6 trillion ($666.25 billion), about 71% of the total B2B digital market.
eMarketer estimates that South Korea’s digital buyer population reached 23.3 million in 2012, equal to more than half of the total population. The number of digital buyers will grow by about 1 million per year through 2015, when three-quarters of internet users will buy via online channels.
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