Which country is in Shopee’s sights? While this unicorn is already the leading ecommerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, it has continued to aggressively expand into other markets– first Brazil, then Mexico, and most recently, Chile and Colombia.
As such, when some of our friends stumbled upon a LinkedIn post of someone joining Shopee’s Korea office, they asked us whether Korea was the next consumer market Shopee would make an entry into.
Well, the truth is that Shopee has been in Korea for nearly three years. They have been quite discreet about it. And to answer the burning question that’s on everyone’s mind– no, they are neither targeting Korea’s consumers nor competing against Coupang, yet.
Shopee wants cross-border commerce from Korea
Unlike Shopee’s websites in Southeast Asia, this Korean-based website features neither a carousel of promotions nor an array of online products. Instead, the site mainly features information about how sellers can list their products on the platform:
Shopee also highlights how it can support seller’s transition into ecommerce, including marketing, digital payment, and logistical services.
As well as the success that other merchants have enjoyed after bringing their business onto Shopee:
The message is simple: “Shopee is a great platform for you to expand your market base and grow your business. Join us.”
Sell everything on Shopee!
Much like how TikTok has curated a slew of initiatives for SMEs, Shopee seeks –through its aggressive wooing of Korean sellers– to onboard as many merchants as possible. This tactic forms a key part of Shopee’s overall ecommerce strategy, which is to provide its users with as many choices as possible.
A more diverse selection contributes to a better shopping experience, which hooks in more users, more traffic, and more sellers– allowing the entire flywheel to continue spinning on. It takes a leaf from Amazon’s original playbook, except that Shopee is relying on free shipping to spin its own flywheel.
At the same time, by having as many sellers as possible on its platform, Shopee is also trying to use the invisible hand to squeeze out efficiency in its markets. Shopee doesn’t need to scour the ground for the best suppliers– they just have to look for the ones that are still floating amidst a red ocean. The market takes, and the market decides.
Shopee isn’t in Korea (for now)
With the Hallyu wave (global popularity of Korean culture) showing no signs of abating in Southeast Asia (Indonesian delivery riders found that out the hard way with the BTS meal), Korean beauty products continue to be highly popular in these regional markets. Major brands such as Laneige and innisfree continue to attract growing demand on Shopee, regularly ranking in the top five of the beauty category during its landmark sales.
At the end of the day, Shopee is in Korea because its users want Korean products– and its immediate priority is to push out as many items from the Korean market as possible.
That being said, if it actually does venture into this market, we are certainly looking forward to its marketing campaign there. After all, the Baby Shark song originated in Korea– we wonder what soulful tunes might be thrown back at them …