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Korea lifts ban on online liquor sales

(123rf)
(123rf)

As of Friday, South Korean consumers can freely order alcoholic drinks online and pay via internet or with a mobile app.

With a ban on online purchases of liquor lifted, convenience stores and hypermarket chains stand to benefit, according to the industry.

Changes to the Liquor Tax Act came into effect Friday allowing retailers, including restaurants, hypermarkets and convenience stores, to sell alcoholic beverages on mobile apps and on the internet. But delivery is still banned, so customers have to visit the physical stores to pick up their orders.

Previously, online liquor sales were prohibited in line with government health campaigns to discourage excessive drinking and underage drinking. Tax evasion by online liquor sellers was another concern.

Exceptions to the regulations were made for traditional Korean liquor products as part of industry support measures, and for limited quantities of drinks ordered with food.

The National Tax Service said the revised policy would benefit consumers by reducing ordering time, and would offer better shopping experiences as people could look around for the best prices online.

As retail companies are preparing to introduce their own online platforms for the liquor purchases, customers are expected to be offered more choices of different liquor products, including wine, and pick up their orders in the nearest retail shops, such as the convenience stores.

Industry officials say convenience stores stand to benefit from the revised legislation, as they have the biggest presence with a large number of offline stores across the country.

It is also likely to reduce the problem of “no show” customers -- people who place orders online but never picked them up.

Wine is expected to be a popular item. In comparison, beer and soju are more accessible in stores.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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