In South Korea, consumers have formed a strong habit of shopping online rather than visiting physical stores since 2020. Having had a high mobile penetration of total e-commerce prior to the pandemic, in 2021, South Korea maintained its position as one of the most mobile-savvy countries in the world.
Livestreaming accounts for low value share of overall e-commerce in South Korea, while the growth of the new sales format has been welcomed by bargain-hunting customers. For instance, in Euromonitor International’s Digital Consumer Survey fielded between March and April 2021, fewer than 30% of South Korean respondents made purchases through livestreaming, much lower than China’s 63%, while the major reason for buying via livestreaming is discounts offered by brands.
Since social distancing measures were enforced in early 2020, the government has maintained a strict regulation on the gathering of large crowds to prevent mass contagion. In particular, consumer foodservice outlets were heavily affected due to the reduced business hours and restrictions on dining-in capacity.
While e-commerce had already enjoyed rapid growth due to the shift towards the digital channel amongst younger consumers, the pandemic has accelerated the transition as the older population aged 50-60 years formed a habit of shopping online. The enhanced convenience of mobile payment methods, including digital wallets and mobile payment gateway services, has helped to lower the barrier for mobile shopping.
Globally, leading social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram have been evolving as shopping platforms. However, in South Korea, global social media platforms have launched retail businesses, while the actual purchase needs to be made on external websites linked with the brand’s page on social media, substantially limiting a social media player’s potential for growth.
As a growing number of retailers introduce mobile apps as a default, consumers are gradually being overwhelmed with a countless number of these apps installed on their smartphones. Leading e-commerce player Coupang understood the importance of providing a convenient shopping experience to customers early on and attracted customers across all generations with its simple user interface and convenient ordering process, which has significantly helped the company to consistently gain share.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Mobile E-Commerce (Goods) industry in South Korea with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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Mobile Internet Retailing includes sales through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Please note that these sales are also included in the Internet Retailing Channel. Mobile Internet Retailing is also known as m-commerce.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Mobile E-Commerce (Goods) research and analysis database.
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