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South Korea's Gmarket, 11Street Top 10 Among Desktop and App Shoppers

But heavy competition is making finding profits tough

April 5, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

eBay-owned ecommerce platform Gmarket.co.kr drew more desktop traffic than any other ecommerce site in South Korea in February 2017, according to recent research from Nielsen KoreanClick. Gmarket garnered 11.1 million unique visitors that month, giving it a reach of 34.8%.

It was followed closely by 11Street, with 10.9 million visitors and a 34.2% reach. Auction.co.kr, another site owned by eBay’s South Korean unit, catalogued 9.3 million visits, with a reach of 29.1%.

Top 10 Retail Ecommerce Sites in South Korea, Ranked by Unique Visitors, Feb 2017 (millions and % reach)

Several of these sites have also been successful in drawing traffic from mobile device users in South Korea—a market that will have a smartphone penetration rate of 72.2% in 2017, eMarketer estimates.

Nielsen KoreanClick found that Gmarket, 11Street, Auction, Coupang.com and WeMakePrice were among the Top 10 platforms in drawing traffic from both desktop computers and Android smartphone users.

However, all of the traffic generated by sites like Gmarket and 11Street is not necessarily translating to solid profit for the platforms.

According to The Korea Herald, heavy competition within the country’s ecommerce sector had left many companies—11Street, Coupang, Tmon (Ticket Monster) and WeMakePrice among them—with losses at the end of 2015.

Top 10 Mobile Shopping Apps in South Korea, Ranked by Unique Visitors, Feb 2017 (millions and % reach)

These rivals have been reaching for an ever-greater market share, and have spent heavily on marketing tactics such as discounts in the process.

At the same time, they’ve been forced to invest in the information technology needed to keep their operations running smoothly. In fact, The Korea Herald reported that eBay South Korea might be the only large ecommerce player to have eked out a profit in both 2015 and 2016.

While individual companies may be suffering, the overall ecommerce sector continues to grow in South Korea. eMarketer estimates retail ecommerce sales in the country, excluding travel, will account for 15.3% of total retail sales this year. Residents of South Korea are expected to spend $52.6 billion on digital purchases, up 15.3% over 2016’s figure.

Luckily for ecommerce sites, digital shoppers in South Korea are buttressed by one of the fastest internet systems in the world, making it easy for residents to shop and purchase online.

Rahul Chadha

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