Amazon is poised to disrupt South Korea’s e-commerce, the seventh largest market globally and the third largest in Asia, according to Korean startup incubator SeoulSpace.
A great majority (60%) of online shoppers in South Korea use mobile to get online. These days, beyond Amazon, e-commerce in the country is dominated by daily deal site WeMakePrice, eBay-owned Auction Co., 11St, Coupang and G-Market, according to SeoulSpace.
With China's runaway economic growth having slowed somewhat, and the retail and e-commerce markets in the U.S. and Europe maturing, retailers and brands of all stripes have turned to overseas markets, most notably India, for higher octane growth. EBay, Amazon and Alibaba have all made significant investments there, with Amazon itself forging its own operations.
Last year, Amazon was said to be moving into Southeast Asia, an Alibaba stronghold, with plans to launch services in Singapore in the first quarter this year. Initial plans had been to move via an investment in Redmart, but that company was acquired for about $50 million by Lazada. In March, TechCrunch reported that, though Singapore remains Amazon's focus, its entry has been postponed.
Some observers believe Amazon is more likely to expand into large markets with fewer logistical barriers, as with its March acquisition of Middle East e-commerce marketplace Souq for an undisclosed sum and its recent move to set up operations in Australia. Its Souq acquisiiton closed this week, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.