Shopping by mobile devices rises

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Shopping by mobile devices rises

More shoppers are using smartphones and tablets to do business with Korean online retailers - both Koreans and foreigners.

Chinese shoppers - particularly those who have visited Korea and fallen in love with its products - have been a particular boon to the online shopping business.

According to Statistics Korea, online shopping transactions rose 18.8 percent in June compared to a year ago, hitting 5.18 trillion won ($4.64 billion). Mobile shopping via mobile devices surged 34.4 percent during the same period, and accounted for 51.2 percent of total online shopping, or 2.65 trillion won.

“Mobile payment services have improved recently so more customers are using mobile devices compared to the past,” said an official from Statistics Korea.

Mobile device transactions accounted for only 29 percent of all online transactions in April 2014. The figure topped 40 percent early last year and surpassed 50 percent in December. It continues to grow.

Even though transactions rose from a year ago, they dropped from the previous month. Online shopping transactions dropped 0.3 percent in June compared to May and mobile shopping fell 2.2 percent during the same period.

By sector, people purchased more cosmetics and travel services online, while the figure for food, including agricultural produce, livestock and fishery products fell.

People spent 52.1 percent more on cosmetics in June compared to the previous year, and the figure for travel services increased by 42.3 percent.

“The number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea rose in general, and they were interested in buying cosmetics at both brick-and-mortar stores and online retail shops,” an official at Statistics Korea said.

According to Statistics Korea, Chinese tourists visiting Korea rose 201 percent from 223,000 in June 2015 to 671,000 in June 2016. The outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) lowered the number of tourists last year. The first MERS fatality in Korea occurred on June 2, 2015.

“More Chinese entered Korea and this also helped travel services transactions grow,” said an official at the agency.

Statistics Korea surveyed a total of 983 online retailers for its data.

Meanwhile, foreigners buying Korean goods rose 83 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year compared to the previous year, hitting 497.4 billion won.

Koreans buying goods through foreign online retailers increased by 5 percent during the same period, recording 411.8 billion won.

Chinese purchasing goods through Korean online retailers jumped 103.1 percent year on year in the second quarter of this year to record 373.2 billion won. The figure for Japan rose 72.1 percent and the European Union (EU) countries increased by 95.7 percent.

“Cosmetics were the most popular products for foreigners and they accounted for 67 percent of total transactions by foreigners,” said Sohn Eun-rak, a director at the statistics agency.

Americans purchasing goods through Korean retailers were the highest at 266.9 billion won in the second quarter, followed by the EU (79.2 billion won) and China (33.2 billion won)

The most popular items that Koreans bought from foreign online retailers were clothes and fashion-related goods. Koreans bought 149.4 billion won worth of fashion related goods from foreign online retailers in the second quarter of this year, down 1.6 percent compared to the previous year.

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

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