SEOUL, Korea, Dec 12 (Korea Bizwire) – At the end of the last month arrived Black Friday, the biggest shopping season of the year in the United States. Black Friday, the time when the shoppers can enjoy tremendous benefits, even had an impact on the Korean retail industry. During the Black Friday shopping season this year Korean consumers were busy ordering their favorite items through online shopping malls that deliver goods from overseas. According to a report published on December 10 by Auction, Korea’s major online retail vendor, the sales of goods through eBay on Back Friday increased by 70 percent compared to last year. The “Global Shopping Corner” of G-market, Korea’s largest online e-commerce site, showed an impressive 80-percent increase in its sales on Black Friday compared to the same day last year.
If Black Friday in the U.S. puts consumers in such an excitement only once a year, it’s practically Black Friday every day in Korea. This is in large part due to “Smart Shoppers” in Korea. Smart Shoppers are those who would do anything to locate the least-expensive items of their choice, but who would also do anything to buy expensive goods that they think are worth the money. They are so-called “value-pursuers.” Due to the fact that they search all the routes they can to find the lowest price, many sellers find this as an opportunity to sell their products and come up with various sales events in different channels.
The Frontier of the Sale Competition: Fashion Industry
Galleria Department Store surprised the industry with a 10-month no-interest installment offer for consumers using credit cards last month. The special event was held for 12 days from December 2 to 13 and it was the first of its kind since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Galleria also launched a big promotion event during the fall season sale period, and its Luxury Hall West held “Galleria Masterpiece Collection” the same month displaying new collections from high-end brands like Cartier.
There are also stores with shoppers lining up from dawn. FRL Korea, which runs Uniqlo, a casual clothing brand, did a promotion event on the launching date of its Gangnam-Yeoksam store with 50-percent discount on heat-tech items (self-heat-generating underwear and outwear items) to the first 500 customers. According to estimates by Uniqlo, more than 300 customers lined up to buy the items before the store opened.
H&M, known for its collaboration with famous designers every year, launched its sale event of the limited editions of Isabel Marant pour H&M on November 14 at Myeongdong Noon Square. The event started at 6 am and the shoppers quickly filled up to buy the limited editions, and they had to wait in line to enter the shop in groups of 30. Admission bands were handed out and each customer was given 10 minutes only in each section to shop where she was only allowed to buy one piece for each item.
Major Markets and Online Malls Throwing Out Goods on Sales
The retail industry is also doing everything it can to attract customers. For example, the stores pick a single good and give a big discount on that specific good to lure customers. Unannounced sale or limited-time sale are also used by the industry to fight the recession. For example, Lotte Mart will hold a “Thanks Week” in time for Christmas from December 12 to 18 during which major daily necessity goods will be on a 50-percent discount. A total of 1,000 items will be on sale and premium necessities which were unseen on the list before will also be part of the “Thanks Week.” In case an item on sales is sold out during the sale week, Lotte Mart is planning to give out rain checks to its customers with which they can purchase the same item within the month at the same price.
Interpark, another big-name online shopping mall, will hold a “Boxing Day” event from December 11 to 26 where more than 40 different types of home electronic goods will be on up to 50-percent sale. On the opening day, the ‘LG Smart TV 47LN5400’ will be sold for the lowest price of 990,000 won, and other electronic goods released this year will soon follow.
“Smart Shoppers” Like to Use Smartphones
Smart Shoppers are now characterized by their fondness of smartphones. Many of them do their entire shopping through smartphones. According to a report by the Korea Online Shopping Association on November 28, the mobile shopping market doubled in size to 3.97 trillion won this year. This is 400 times that of 2009, just four years ago. This is not the only surprising fact. Previously, the mobile shopping industry was mainly centered around fashion items like clothes and accessories, but now it has expanded toward daily necessities such as bottled water, coffee, ramen, and rice.
“Search” is the top priority by Smart Shoppers. Before they go on shopping, they would start the shopping applications on their smartphones and check the mobile flyers to find out which online mall is selling the item they want at the lowest price. Then it’s easy. They go on to a particular mall’s application and make the purchase. They also use the “Lowest-Price Finder” to compare the prices or take advantage of the special social commerce sales price. Currently, more than half the social commerce industry’s revenue comes from mobile shoppers. The sales revenue of Coupang this year is above 500 billion won, which quadrupled from last year. Other social commerce companies like TicketMonster and WeMakePrice also report that more than 50 percent of their revenues come from mobile sales.