Shoppers turning to phones

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Shoppers turning to phones

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With more consumers using their smartphones and tablets to buy things, goods and services purchases made on mobile devices not only broke new record in May but reached a new high mark in their proportion of all online shopping.

According to Statistics Korea, mobile purchases in May amounted to nearly 2.7 trillion won ($2.35 billion), a 42 percent year-on-year increase. When compared to the previous month sales grew 7.1 percent. This is a new record since data were first compiled in January 2013. The previous record was last December, when mobile purchases amounted to 2.68 trillion won.

Furthermore mobile shopping amounted to nearly 52 percent of the 5.18 trillion won that was spent shopping online, about a half-percent more than the previous high recorded in March.

The significant rise in mobile shopping was led by software purchases, which surged 147 percent year-on-year, and book purchases, which grew 115 percent from a year earlier.

Purchases of music and videos more than doubled.

Many consumers were using their mobile devices to make reservations at a movie house or theater or buying transportation tickets. That accounted for the largest portion of payments made via their smartphones, just over 16 percent. Buying clothes came in second at 12 percent followed by buying household goods and automotive products that accounted for 11 percent of shopping.

In May, online shopping also continued to grow, expanding 22 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to the previous month, sales were up 4.5 percent.

The increase in online sales was led by the growth of cosmetics purchases, up nearly 50 percent year-on-year followed by food and beverage sales, which increased 32.5 percent. The near-30 percent sales increases in electronics and mobile devices also helped online shopping expand.

As was the case with mobile purchases, many consumers went online to make reservations including travel reservations. That accounted for 18 percent of all online purchases made. Electronics and mobile devices were the second most popular online purchase, at 11.1 percent, closely followed by spending on clothing at 10.7 percent.

Online shopping’s contribution on the nation’s overall retail sales has been growing, accounting in May for nearly 16 percent of the 32.9 trillion won in retail purchases during the month. Last year, online shopping accounted for about 13 percent of retail sales; two years ago, it was only 11.5 percent.

The penetration of smartphones in the Korean market is one of the highest in the world, and the nation has one of the world’s best and fastest Internet service. “Wired Korea” is therefore a fertile market for online marketing.

In fact, Woori Bank announced Monday that it was reorganizing itself to focus more on its mobile platform businesses while efficiently managing its overseas networks.

The bank said it had created a new department called Platform Businesses under its smart finance business department. The team will be in charge of establishing and managing mobile platforms and its mobile banking service, WeBee Bank.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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