Shopping agents see spikeThe same coat that would have set you back 580,000 won ($516.43) last month can now be had for much less, though you’ll have to look outside Korea’s borders to get this deal.
It’s the magic of overseas shopping - aided by a growing number of so-called overseas shopping agents.
These Web sites, which started to sprout up in the early 2000s, are helping Koreans buy products sold at Internet shopping sites operated outside of the country by handling everything from payment to delivery.
In exchange, these agents get handling fees on top of the price for the goods and delivery.
Such overseas shopping agents, popular among young Korean women hoping to buy products at the Web sites of famous U.S. fashion brands or department stores, saw their once-massive popularity plummet in late 2008 when the Korean won dramatically weakened against U.S. dollar, which made the products more expensive.
But things are changing now as the Korean won strengthens against the greenback and a growing number of shopping sites in the United States roll out more products at cheaper prices during post-Christmas clearance sales.
Plein, an overseas shopping agent operated by GS Shop, an online retail subsidiary of GS Group, is seeing its business suddenly boom again.
“For products brought in from overseas, the changing won-dollar rate is reflected into the sales price immediately,” said Kim Joo-young, public relations manager at Plein.
The agent’s sales for the past two weeks have soared about 15 percent compared to a month ago, something the company has not seen for a long time because of the won’s weakness against the greenback.
“We see more customers coming back to us when the won fares well against dollar,” Kim said.
Auction (www.auction.co.kr), an online auction and shopping Web site, also said sales via overseas shopping agents operating within the site have jumped about 40 percent over the past month.
The site said that massive clearance sales offered at major retailers in the U.S., which are aimed at clearing out inventories left over from the holidays, are also contributing to the trend. Internet-savvy customers can get some products for about 30 percent to 70 percent of their normal prices.
A small Marc by Marc Jacobs tote purse, a secondary line of luxury brand Marc Jacobs, can be had for 59,800 won, about 60 percent lower than the initial sale price of 146,600 won.
A DKNY wool blend coat costs 159,000 won, about 70 percent lower than its initial price of 363,900 won, more than making up for any agent fees and delivery costs.
“Customers are feeling that they are getting far bigger bargain opportunities than before,” said Lee Seong-joon, fashion department director at D&Shop.
By Kim Ki-whan [email@example.com]
구제역 저지 ‘3㎞·3주·돼지’가 관건