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This country brief is part of an eleven-part series exploring the landscape of B2C e-commerce marketplaces in various East Asian economies. This series offers in-depth insights into the traffic trends for active e-commerce websites, national established and emerging key players, main characteristics of the marketplaces, ease of online selling, the degree of specialization in terms of products as well as the products characteristics.

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The Republic of Korea shows a particularly high internet penetration rate (97%) and a large proportion of e-commerce users (77%). Nevertheless, the density of B2C marketplaces is in the middle range with a total of 173 B2C marketplaces for a population of 51.6 million (35.1% of the total traffic in the region studied).

Over the period 2019-2022, traffic on the 173 B2C marketplaces remained relatively stable, at 8 billion visits per year and slightly above. Among them, online shopping malls account for the largest proportion of marketplaces (61.3%) and capture most of the traffic (76.3%).

The e-commerce market in the Republic of Korea is dominated by domestic companies (52%), followed by the United States (22%) and China (4%). On the total of 173 online marketplaces, there is an important geographical diversity considering the 16 other countries with companies holding marketplaces.

The e-commerce market is diluted with the Top 10 online marketplaces capturing only 67.6% of total traffic. This Top 10 is largely dominated by online shopping malls, 7 in total, and B2C marketplaces are all owned by domestic companies.

Regarding the ease of selling on these B2C marketplaces, only 45% allow foreign sellers to operate and 41% offer open registration to online sellers. A moderate proportion of these marketplaces are fully transactional (62%) but, as a corollary, 63% require trading fees to sell online.

The country has a larger proportion of generic B2C marketplaces (60%) than specialized marketplaces (40%). Among the 69 specialized marketplaces, 33% specialize in fashion, accessories, and shoes (capturing only 18% of the traffic). The traffic dynamics also show that consumers’ preferences lean towards buying automotive parts (capturing 38.5% of the traffic) and cultural content (18.5%).

Trade, Investment and Innovation Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]