E-commerce has changed the way the world conducts business. Technology has made it easier to interface with customers quickly around the world. With economies become more interconnected, companies large and small are now able to access markets that were previously unattainable. Retail e-commerce sales worldwide are projected to grow from US$1.67 trillion in 2015 to US$3.02 trillion in 2018. Some countries, such as South Korean, even have exports increased by 84.5% year-over-year through e-commerce in just the first quarter of 2016.
How can businesses take advantage of opportunities in the era of fast growing e-commerce?
Firstly, businesses need to understand the new trends such as “Mobile and Social Media Optimization”. Online shopping using a mobile device (m-commerce) has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and that popularity is expected to continue to grow. By 2020, mobile commerce will make up 45% of total e-commerce, while most of the m-commerce sales will come from smartphones and tablets. In addition, major social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube, have introduced “buy” or “shop now” buttons to their platforms in order to simplify the purchasing process from their networks. Korean businesses should consider their mobile strategies in order to capture the growth in m-commerce. For example, they need to look at design and responsiveness of mobile platforms, mobile conversion rates, mobile wallets, how to leverage big data for personalized customer experience and cross-device shopping implementation.
Secondly, businesses should leverage the benefits of Free Trade Agreements (FTA). For example, since the Korea-U.S. FTA took effect in 2012, the two countries have conducted five rounds of tariff cuts and eliminations, which created significant new market access opportunities for Korean businesses. The USA has now become the second major exporting country of Korea, with a total US$30.7 million worth of goods.
A key differentiator for success in e-commerce is getting the delivery right. Selecting the right delivery provider is crucial to cater to changing customers’ order fulfilment and delivery expectations. To stay competitive, e-tailers should choose a transportation provider that can offer a variety of shipping options. Integrating the transportation provider’s automated shipping capabilities into the e-tailers’ systems will allow for a highly automated shipping process – from preparing air waybills to scheduling pick-ups to deliveries – that will make shipping easier and faster for customers. A logistics provider with local customs expertise to help businesses navigate the cross-border regulatory environment plays a key role.
Another area to consider is returns management. It is important to find a provider that helps e-tailers handle product returns in easy, cost-effective ways. This solution not only provides a better customer experience, but also enables businesses to track and manage their inventory better as they have visibility to what products are being returned.
E-commerce will continue to fuel growth in the global economy and businesses around the world that take advantage of the full potential of this growing market will experience faster growth.
 “Mobile Commerce Will be Nearly Half of E-commerce by 2018”, Internet Retailer, March 10, 2014.
 “9 Important Mobile Commerce Trends for 2016”, Pixelter, February 25, 2016.