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Statistics Korea (KOSTAT), South Korea’s statistics agency, reported that mcommerce sales in the country totaled KRW3.487 trillion ($3.08 billion) in December 2016. Total ecommerce business-to-consumer (B2C) sales reached KRW6.188 trillion ($5.47 billion) in the month, meaning that mcommerce sales now account for more than half of all B2C ecommerce sales in the country by KOSTAT’s measure.
According to KOSTAT, mcommerce sales accounted for 56.3% of all B2C ecommerce sales in December 2016. That was up from the 50.0% share recorded in the previous December. However, it was down slightly from the 56.4% reported for November 2016.
Mcommerce has accounted for an increasing share of B2C ecommerce transactions in South Korea since 2014, and for good reason. The country has a very high smartphone penetration rate. eMarketer estimates 72.2% of the population will be smartphone users in 2017.
In addition, South Korea has some of the fastest average internet speeds in the world. According to data from Akamai, South Korea’s mobile networks averaged 11.2 Mbps in Q3 2016.
These factors may explain why mcommerce appears to have taken root among younger cohorts in South Korea. According to a survey of digital buyers in the country conducted by DMC Media in January 2017, 59.2% of 20- to 29-year-olds named a smartphone as their primary device for digital purchases. That figure dropped only slightly, to 56.3%, among those ages 30 to 39.
Shifts in how retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands think about ecommerce, combined with an accelerating acceptance among consumers for buying food digitally, have boosted online sales of groceries. Retailers and brands are taking note of these changing consumer behaviors and offering more digital options for grocery shopping and delivery, which will continue to drive the trend upward in 2017 and beyond.
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