International Shipping

eCommerce guide to selling and shipping to South Korea

Jules

by Jules

On 2019 M03 7

by Jules

South Korea is a country of 51.4 million people and boasts the 15th largest economy of the world. Positive and supportive policies of the government have been the reason for its constant GDP growth.

Importing and shipping to Korea is easier and quicker than many other countries, one reason why eCommerce industry has flourished there. It also has a strong industrial base and is a high-income country.

B2C eCommerce market has been accelerating steadily. This is mainly because of the increase in smartphone usage for online shopping.

South Korean eCommerce market insights

South Korea is one of the mature eCommerce markets of the world, being the third largest eCommerce market in Asia. That is likely because it has the highest average Internet connection speed globally and high online penetration. The online marketplace there is very promising and encouraging, as the customer base is already accustomed to online shopping and they don’t need to be trained or educated in this regard.

Per Societe General, 99 percent of South Koreans go online and spend around 14 hours online, making the country prime for eCommerce. South Korea’s annual eCommerce sales make up to 20 percent of the total annual retail sales, with last year the total online sales reaching $21.38 billion and being set to grow to $32.6 by 2021. These figures show that it’s a market worth trying to penetrate it.

But if you’re targeting an eCommerce market, you should have a proper strategy for shipping as well. Luckily, shipping to Korea is not very difficult as you will find many major courier services providing international shipping to Korea.

Like other countries, the Korean eCommerce marketplace has its own platforms which are more in-line with the sophisticated and specific with the needs of the local buyers. Amazon is present but is not that significant in the market as other local ones. The marketplaces that are major role players and are growing day by day are:

  • Gmarket
  • 11Street
  • Coupang
  • co.kr
  • Wemakeprice

What do Koreans like to buy online?

Although Koreans buy almost everything online, there are some items which have a larger share in online sales. The most-shopped items are from the fashion industry, followed closely by electronics and media, toys, hobby and DIY.

When is the best time to sell?

Apart from internationally celebrated days, the most important holiday is Chuseok, which is celebrated between September 23 to 25. A family holiday celebrated like Thanksgiving in the United States, gifts are often exchanged among family and friends. Sales are increased 1.2 times before this holiday, attesting its economic importance. Other than that, Christmas, New Years and Halloween are holidays when selling online are a good idea.

Shipping to Korea

There are many options and solutions available for those who wish to ship to South Korea. Especially if you are shipping from U.S. to South Korea, you will find many major couriers at your service, including DHL eCommerce and USPS Priority, which are also among the cheapest options available to ship from the U.S. to Korea.

Easyship also provides shipping and logistics services for shipping from the U.S. to South Korea at competitive rates. We have a diversified and extensive network of warehouses and shipping solutions throughout the world.

You can use our shipping rates calculator for comparison of shipping rates. But for more accurate estimation, you can sign up free of charge to Get a Quote. You will also need a South Korea zip code to get estimates to ship to Korea.

For more complete information about shipping to South Korea, you can click here.

Items you cannot send to South Korea

Like every other country, there are some rules and regulations you must follow for shipping to Korea. Specifically, you must have proper documentation and pay all the customs duties pertaining to the shipment. Notably, different items require different taxes and documentation.

If you are over 19 years old, you can carry travel items like cigarettes, a small amount of alcohol, perfume and gift items worth $400 under free import.

Prohibited items

Following items are prohibited to ship to Korea. They’re considered illegal and will never be allowed to enter Korea.

  • Narcotics
  • Pornography
  • Subversive material
  • Treasonous material
  • Counterfeit goods or materials

Restricted items

These are the items that cannot be shipped to Korea without proper legal permission. You cannot take more than $10,000 in the form of cash or cheque. If you want to take more, you need to declare and explain to customs officials. Specifically, restricted items are:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Fireworks
  • Plants
  • Endangered animals or plants
  • Foodstuff

You can get more complete information here.

Conclusion

South Korea is a prominent eCommerce market currently ranks as one of the leaders of the eCommerce market globally.

Your business can expand and grow by selling and shipping to Korea. However, like all other countries, you must consider the specific market itself, specifically items which are prohibited or restricted.

Companies who have a strong grasp of the country’s eCommerce landscape and firm understanding of its laws can easily formulate a strategy for selling and shipping to South Korea.