Could Gmarket Appeal to Japanese Consumers?

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on August 9, 2006

Nasdaq-listed Gmarket is pressing ahead with its campaign to outshine global powerhouse eBay and grab leadership in South Korea’s e-commerce. The Korean upstart on August 9 posted a 163% jump in gross merchandise value, or the total value of goods sold on its website, in the quarter that ended in June. The turnover of $573 million, which compares with $217.8 million in the April-June period last year, represents 16.8% of Korea’s retail Internet commerce, up from a share of 8.3% a year earlier.

Internet Auction, eBay’s Korean subsidiary, doesn’t release quarterly results. But industry officials say Gmarket, which is 9.1% owned by Yahoo!, could have edged past the American giant in terms of the volume of items they handled in the second quarter. “eBay’s growth is pretty decent, expanding by more than 50% in 2005 from the previous year,” says Lee Duck Jun, Gmarket’s chief financial officer. “We are growing at much faster pace, though.”

With its gross merchandise value for all of this year projected to reach $2.4-2.6 billion, Gmarket is now planning to set up a cyber open market in Japan in the first half of next year. eBay pulled out of the Japanese e-commerce market, Asia’s biggest, a few years back, after being badly beaten by Yahoo’s Japanese subsidiary. A joint venture with Yahoo is one option considered by Gmarket for its Japan operation but the Korean company doesn’t rule out the possibility of setting up a wholly-owned unit to compete with Yahoo as well as Rakuten there.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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