Mobile shopping gets more popular

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Mobile shopping gets more popular

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More Koreans now do their online shopping through their smartphone rather than a tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

According to Statistics Korea on Monday, online shopping transactions rose 22.7 percent in February compared to a year ago, hitting 4.69 trillion won ($4.07 billion). Mobile shopping via smartphone surged 54 percent during the same period, accounting for 51 percent of total online shopping at 2.39 trillion won.

“Easy mobile payment services have been newly introduced that allow customers to purchase goods via mobile devices easier compared to the past, and retailers are focusing on improving their mobile apps since they believe the mobile shopping sector is growing rapidly,” said a representative at Statistics Korea. “There also are more people using smartphones, which we think might be one of the reasons that it has grown significantly.”

More than 60 percent of online shoppers bought goods such as clothes, shoes, cosmetics, baby supplies via their mobile devices, according to the data. This suggests that female shoppers might be leading the mobile trend.

According to a Nielsen Korea’s report released last year, 62 percent of women only used mobile phones for online shopping, compared to 38 percent of men.

“We did not gather the data by sex so we can’t say for sure that female customers are responsible for mobile shopping’s growth rate,” said a representative at Statistics Korea.

Mobile shoppers only accounted for 26.3 percent of all online shoppers in February 2014. This exceeded the 40 percent-level in early last year and finally accounted for 50 percent of total transactions in December.

Meanwhile, there were more people who went online to make travel arrangements and reservations, as well as to buy items such as cosmetics, car accessories and other home appliances, in February compared to the previous year.

Travel arrangements and reservation services accounted for 18.2 percent of total online shopping transactions. Home appliances and other electronics accounted for 10.3 percent.

Shoppers buying goods at online-only retailers rose 26.3 percent year-on-year, while it rose 16.9 percent for retailers that have both online and brick-and-mortar stores.

The data does show that the online shopping industry is doing better than the previous year’s, but the recent data reflects that it is worsening since the beginning of the year.

In November, Korean online retailers were throwing big discount events in an attempt to lure consumers away from taking part in the United States’ famed Black Friday sales event. Total online shopping transaction volume reached 4.95 trillion won in November, and continued to rise to 5.36 trillion won in December, largely thanks to other big holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Day.

But it started to fall in January to 5.21 trillion won and continued to do so in February.

In February, online shoppers paying for travel and reservation services dropped 8.9 percent from the previous month and those buying clothes and other food related products fell some 16 to 17 percent each.

Statistics Korea surveyed a total of 985 online retailers that have a yearly trading volume exceeding 12 million won.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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