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Consumers in Asian and European countries, as well as the US, made cross-border digital purchases from South Korea at a much higher rate in 2016 than they did in 2015, with shoppers in China ramping up their activity the most.
A February 2017 report from Statistics Korea (KOSTAT) found that people in Greater China purchased KRW584.2 billion ($503.3 million) worth of goods digitally from businesses in South Korea in Q4 2016, an increase of 74.8% year over year.
In total, foreign buyers made KRW721.9 billion ($622 million) in purchases from South Korean sellers in Q4 2016, up 62.2% vs. Q4 2015.
Shoppers in China forked over by far the most money to South Korea in Q4 2016, with next highest spenders the US and Japan substantially behind—at KRW42.0 billion and KRW34.9 billion, respectively. In fact, Chinese consumers accounted for a whopping 80.9% of total sales to foreign buyers during the period.
Foreign buyers seem interested in one South Korean product category in particular. Purchases of cosmetics totaled KRW540.7 billion ($465 million) in Q4 2016, accounting for 74.9% of all sales to international buyers. Fashion and accessories was the next most popular product category, bringing in KRW100.8 billion ($86 million) for the quarter, equating to 14.0% of all sales to foreign buyers.
eMarketer estimates that total retail ecommerce sales in South Korea—excluding travel—will reach $52.61 billion this year.
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