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Amazon unlikely to launch in Korea

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Despite rumors about Amazon‘s future plans to enter the South Korean market, it is unlikely that the e-commerce giant will launch a Korean version of its flagship online shopping website, according to industry insiders.

“It is unclear what Amazon will have to gain by entering the e-commerce market at this point,” an official at another e-commerce firm operating in Korea said, asking not to be named.

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Rumors have been circulating that Amazon was planning a launch of a Korean arm after the US e-commerce giant, which already operates web services and global selling services here, held an unprecedented press conference at the end of September 2017 to introduce its global selling services.

Amazon Global Selling offers support to Korean sellers who want to showcase their products to consumers overseas through Amazon.

At the press conference, Amazon Global Selling chief Park Joon-mo declined to comment on the possibility of a Korean launch.

Industry watchers had speculated that Amazon could be trying to expand its seller and customer base through Global Selling before making a Korean launch, or preparing a partnership with an existing retail company such as Shinsegae.

Earlier this year, Shinsegae’s Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin told reporters that the company was preparing a “surprise announcement” at the end of the year that would involve e-commerce.

However, industry watchers said that Shinsegae is rumored to be preparing its own open market-style platform rather than partnering with an existing firm.

An official with Shinsegae said that the company could not confirm anything at this time.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy at the end of September, sales at the four open market companies — eBay Korea, 11st (run by SK Planet), Interpark and Coupang — rose by 7.2 percent on-year in August. Although sales are continuing to show strong growth, the market is slowing down: sales increases reached over 20 percent on-year last September.

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“There is definitely still room for growth in e-commerce, but with IT companies like Naver and Kakao also aggressively pursuing the retail market it will be difficult for a new platform to gain a significant slice of the pie,” said an official at another open market firm.

“EBay was able to succeed here because they came early and bought up platforms that already had a majority market share. Unless Amazon has something up its sleeve that no existing firm can offer, it is unlikely they will invest in coming directly into the Korean market,” said an official at another open market firm in the same occasion.

(Source: Korean Herald )

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