B2B fuels South Korea e-commerce

South Korea has an active e-commerce market that continues to see significant growth.

Statistics Korea (KOSTAT) found that total e-commerce grew by 14.5 per cent to KRW1,144.69 trillion (more than $1 trillion) in 2012.

The biggest growth was in the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) segment, which rose by more than 20 per cent, as more individual sellers conducted direct digital transactions with buyers. Despite its already huge presence, the business-to-consumer (B2B) sector showed the second best performance, growing 15 per cent over the year.

Combining the 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 number one consumer product e-commerce category. Food and beverage, a middling e-commerce category in terms of absolute sales, also made a gain of 23 per cent. Books, software and flowers all declined.

For B2Bs, manufacturing continues to be the biggest category by a wide margin, and the sector growing fastest. E-commerce sales in manufacturing alone totaled KRW750.6 trillion ($666.25 billion), about 71 per cent of the total B2B digital market.

Researcher 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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