30-something Korean women drive overseas direct buying

By Lee Minji

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- Women in their thirties are the key force behind the country's growing tribe of "jikgu jok," people who directly buy from overseas wholesalers and retailers to save money and pick up exclusive items, data showed Tuesday.

The data comes as an increasing number of local shoppers are opting to buy products, ranging from vitamins to flat-panel TVs, directly from online shopping malls abroad at cheaper prices compared with domestic retail channels.

Jikgu is short for overseas direct buying in Korean.

The latest data by overseas direct buying site EBATES showed that thirty-something women were most likely to shop at overseas retailers, while women in their twenties came next with 27 percent.

Overall, women were more avid overseas direct shoppers compared with men, accounting for 62 percent of all jikgu shoppers, according to the data. EBATES compiled the data by surveying 695 users.

Nearly half of their single payment amount came in at an average US$100-150, followed by $150-200 (27 percent) and below $100 (22 percent).

The surveyed jikgu shoppers were most likely to shop at retail venues based in the United States. A dominant 75 percent of the respondents said they purchased products from U.S.-based shopping malls, while 8 percent each said they shopped from those based in Britain and Japan.

The data, meanwhile, showed that men and women tend to buy different products when jikgu shopping. The top three items most frequently purchased by women were shoes, women's clothing and baby products, while those preferred by men were men's clothing, shoes and electronic gadgets.

The respondents said their favorite jikgu channel was U.S. online shopping site Amazon.com while their favorite brand was U.S.-based clothing brand GAP.

The market for jikgu shopping is ballooning in Asia's fourth-largest economy. The amount of online commerce imports, including jikgu shopping, totaled $480 million in the January-April period this year, soaring 56 percent from the previous year, according to the data by Korea Customs Service.

In efforts to better cater to growing demand for jikgu shopping, the customs office recently eased rules for items priced below $100, or $200 if they are shipped from the U.S.

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