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Gmarket aims to lead mobile shopping business

Top online retailer now sees almost 10 percent of sales from mobile business

Gmarket, the nation’s top online retailer owned by eBay Korea, is ramping up efforts to repeat its success story in the mobile shopping business.

Amid the fast filtration of high-end handsets here, the number of smartphone users has already surpassed the 30-million mark.

For Gmarket, it was obvious that mobile phones would become a common platform for commerce.

The company moved quickly, launching the nation’s first mobile shopping app in 2009. 
Gmarket users purchase products by waving their mobile phones over QR codes displayed on a subway wall. (Gmarket)
Gmarket users purchase products by waving their mobile phones over QR codes displayed on a subway wall. (Gmarket)

Since the launch, its mobile business has seen annual growth of 30 percent, the company said. Now the devision makes up 9 percent of total sales.

Gmarket attributes the strong performance to an early bet on the mobile shopping trend and pledges to continue new experiments.

One of the success cases is the “Virtual Store” project that allows Gmarket users to purchase products by waving their mobiles phones over photographs of products displayed on advertisements.

Because the photographs are displayed with QR codes, the mobile phones scan the data and make the purchase. Customers can order their purchases online and have them delivered to wherever they choose.

Gmarket operates such pop-up stores under specific themes. One store specializing in fashion items opened in Myeongdong subway station, while screen doors at 14 subway stations became marketplaces for Chuseok holiday shopping.

The company more recently joined hands with the Kakao Talk mobile messenger to send instant messages to its users for quicker orders and shipping confirmation.

Other than holding promotional events exclusively for mobile customers, the company is also pouring resources into developing new mobile services to improve user convenience.

For example, a customer who purchases products on an office PC can continue shopping on his or her mobile phone as the company offers a shopping service that is compatible among different devices.

Gmarket’s sister service Auction is also betting big on the mobile business whose sales have more than tripled over the past years.

The company said it has recently refurbished its website and mobile app to lure new mobile customers and offer more convenient and creative shopping experience.

“Mobile shopping is an emerging business in the retail industry as it has affected the whole paradigm of online shopping,” said a Gmarket official. “We will continue efforts to lure customers with unique services.”

By Lee Ji-yoon (