Nowadays, a lot of e-commerce solutions promise you easy inroads into international markets. If you have a WooCommerce store, for example, there’s nothing stopping you from selling to customers from all over the world (barring shipping). However, launching an e-commerce store that’s a good fit for local audiences is another matter entirely. Even more so in markets such as Korea.
We’re singling out Korea in particular because it’s a market we’re very familiar with. By sharing our unique insights about e-commerce stores in Korea, we hope to show you just how much work goes into launching a store that truly feels local.
n this article, we’ll walk you through X of the most common problems that businesses run into while trying to launch e-commerce websites for Korean audiences. Then we’ll discuss why you can benefit from working with a developer that understands that market. Let’s get to it!
3 Difficulties of Launching an E-Commerce Store in Korea
Every market is unique and audiences throughout the world respond better to different e-commerce experiences. However, Korean audiences are very particular when it comes to online stores. Moreover, Korean businesses like to do things in a very specific way. Let’s talk about what that means.
1. Korean Businesses Prefer Custom E-Commerce Solutions
If you look at e-commerce statistics, you’ll see that solutions such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and Squarespace are incredibly popular among small businesses. Those solutions enable you to set up stores with ease and customize them in almost any way that you see fit.
For a small business, flexible e-commerce solutions are a godsend. You get to build an online store and you can do it even if you don’t have any web development experience depending on what solution you use. With WooCommerce, for example, you can simply set up a compatible theme and start adding products to your store in a matter of minutes:
When dealing with Korean customers and developers, you’ll quickly notice that they don’t tend to use solutions such as WooCommerce. Instead, they prefer to build entire e-commerce platforms from scratch.
Even for a small store, that’s a big order. You can spend a fortune on web development creating an e-commerce solution that fits your needs and that’s not feasible for a small business.
Moreover, if you use a custom e-commerce solution, that means you end up relying a lot on the developers that you’re working with. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but ideally, you shouldn’t need to contact a developer for every single small update to your store.
2. You Need to Support Korean Payment Methods
If you’re launching a Korean e-commerce store, then you need to support local payment methods such as NHN KCP. Only accepting credit cards is not enough, particularly in a society with so many options for payment processors and online wallets.
To give you an idea of just how many payment methods and gateways you might need to deal with, here are some of the addons that we offer for Korea for WooCommerce:
Adding local payment gateways isn’t a problem that’s specific to Korean stores, though. If you’re launching an online business that targets a specific region that you’re not familiar with, then you need to do your research.
Often, there’ll be payment methods and gateways that are only available in that specific region and that locals prefer. Not implementing those options can diminish your credibility in the Korean market and it can cost you dearly in terms of sales.
3. Overcoming Integration with Key Korean Services
A significant aspect in launching an e-commerce store in Korea is the integration with essential local services. For example, integrating KakaoTalk for customer engagement is a strategic move given its widespread use in Korea.
Similarly, ensuring visibility on Naver, Korea’s leading search engine, goes beyond basic SEO practices. It demands a tailored approach to align with Naver’s unique algorithms and user behavior, a task that can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the nuances of this local platform.
Additionally, integrating a reliable local postcode finder is not just a convenience but a necessity due to Korea’s unique addressing system.
These examples illustrate that while integrating with key Korean services like KakaoTalk, Naver and local postcode systems is essential for a successful e-commerce venture in Korea, it also represents a significant challenge.
Why Work With a Person Who Understands Korean Audiences
As a rule of thumb, if you want to launch a venture in a region that you’re not familiar with, you need to work with people that understand the local culture and how things work. That applies even with e-commerce stores, even if there are no pesky border issues to deal with.
Korean online stores are so unique that you need to work with someone that understands what local customers want. Most e-commerce developers wouldn’t even think about adding a pop-up checkout to a modern store. However, that’s the kind of thing that an experienced Korean developer would never miss.
I, for example, contribute to several e-commerce projects such as Korea for WooCommerce and Korean Payment Gateways. I’ve also worked with clients from all over the world, including a lot of businesses trying to establish an online foothold in Korea. If you want help with a project that targets Korean audiences, I can help you.
If you check out some local online stores in your region and compare them with major international retailers, you’ll notice some big differences. Local e-commerce stores tend to be highly-targeted and they’re optimized for customers in their specific regions. That’s precisely what you want to achieve if you plan on launching an e-commerce store in Korea.
Korean audiences have very specific expectations when it comes to the e-commerce experience. Moreover, most Korean businesses and developers prefer to work with custom e-commerce solutions, which may not be the best option depending on what your budget is.
If you want to work with developers that understand Korean audiences and are open to finding the right e-commerce solution for your needs, feel free to reach out to me!