S. Korea's popular direct buying middleman launches new platform in Japan

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2018-11-02 15:22 Updated : 2018-11-02 15:22
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[Courtesy of Koreacenter]

SEOUL --  Koreacenter, a top parcel forwarding service operator in South Korea, has launched a new online shopping mall management platform in Japan to help sellers target consumers in other countries following its dramatic growth in a domestic niche market for direct buying at overseas online stores.

Founded in 2000, Koreacenter provides various e-commerce services such as Malltail, a parcel forwarding service for overseas direct buying called "Jikgu" in Korean, and MakeShop, a total management service which helps companies set up online shopping malls and provide management tools.

Malltail, which runs a multi-language website, helps consumers compare prices and order directly from foreign web stores like Amazon and eBay. Using warehouses abroad, Malltail ships products and offers a step-by-step guide on how to register and make payment on foreign online stores.

In a ceremony Thursday in Tokyo, Koreacenter and its Japanese partner, MakeShop Japan, launched "Fulfillment Platform", a total management solution for online shopping malls targeting both Japanese and foreign clients.

"Japanese companies seeking to enter overseas markets will be able to utilize our Fulfillment Platform to customize marketing abroad without using their own resources," Koreacenter CEO Kim Ki-rock told reporters. The new platform will use Malltail's logistics center in Japan to connect Japanese business owners to overseas consumers.

The total solution platform also provides MakeShop's e-commerce management services. MakeShop Japan is now supported by about 22,000 online shopping malls in Japan. It is Japan's largest leasing e-commerce which leases an online shopping solution to sellers.

Malltail began parcel forwarding services for South Korean consumers in 2008 when top e-commerce services like Amazon did not provide shipping services to South Korea or overseas sellers charged excessive fees for shipping.

Although there were some South Korean consumers who bought directly from foreign online shopping malls, consumers who cannot speak English or who want more convenient shopping experiences used Malltail's parcel forwarding service, sparking a Jikgu boom.

By using Jikgu services, South Korean consumers have bought tons of products during Black Friday and other online discount sale events. Malltail received about some 1.7 million parcel forwarding requests last year.

Data compiled by the Korea Customs Service showed the total value of Jikgu purchases rose 33 percent on-year to about 200 billion won ($177 million) in the first nine months of this year. The United States accounted for 52 percent, followed by Europe with 20 percent. China was third with 17 percent. Footwear and fashion-related products were popular.

With millions of regular visitors, Koreacenter has been the target of acquisition by KakaoTalk, South Korea's top smartphone messaging app, but Kim said he would go ahead with an initial public offering (IPO) to float shares on the secondary Kosdaq bourse.

"We will pursue mergers and acquisitions with KakaoTalk, but if negotiations are sluggish, we will first list on Kosdaq," he said, adding the IPO would be possible in May next year regardless of negotiations with Kakao.

Jikgu consumers looked the other way briefly in June this year when Amazon carried out a special promotion for South Korean consumers to offer free international shipping for purchases of more than $90. Since then, the e-commerce giant has kept silence on its strategy in Asia's fourth-largest economy.