Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Korea's Gmarket: A Shopper's Paradise

My last weekend was great.

The weather was lovely and I was able to do a few activities. I had a date, nice dinners, and had the perfect kiwi martini at a bar. I also set out to do some shopping.

The problem was that I had trouble finding what I was looking for. Now, shopping in Korea is pretty good. I'm just a little picky. I wanted flat sandals, but most Korean women want heels. I wanted a large black purse, but wanted one within my budget. So I first hit the underground subway mall in Gangnam, then went to the Coex mall at Samseong station. I didn't find what I was looking for, but still found other things. It wasn't too bad.

On the other hand, I am satisfied now. That's because I found what I needed elsewhere -- on Gmarket.
Gmarket's English homepage with the original Korean site
 It's part of Ebay, but it's more like Amazon. You're not bidding, but buying. And you can do your regular shopping on this website. I'll say that Gmarket has its own appeal.

If, say, you want to buy a new outfit, some new makeup, a new camera, or a new watch, you can come here and do it. It's a good place to shop because you can find just about anything you want. The prices are competitive with additional discounts abound. It's straight to the point, and more thorough than Amazon in my opinion. Products are displayed neatly, with plenty of detailed pictures and descriptions. There is a good, standard sizing system. I've never ordered something that was too big or too small. That's more difficult in America where every brand seems to have their own sizing guidelines. Here, I don't have to memorize which stores have clothes/shoes that run big or small.

And ... FAST shipping! Korea's pretty small, so you're not waiting for anything. You can receive your items as quickly as the next day. If not then, I've always received them two days later. No waiting for weeks for your items!

I received this the next day
A couple of years ago, they had the English website but it was much more difficult to navigate. They had only translated the bare minimum into English while absolutely everything else was in Korean. Now, it has greatly improved with nearly all the mechanisms having been translated into English. More product descriptions are in English and the payment information is in English too.

You can browse categories or search. Sellers display what you're looking for, and when you click their link, you see lots of similar products on display. Then, it's pretty easy to select what you want and put it in your cart.

Gmarket offers multiple payment methods
Gmarket also works well for foreign customers. I've found that some other countries make it close to impossible for foreigners to shop on their websites.

Paying is easy. They have multiple payment methods. Unfortunately, most foreigners in Korea do not receive a local debit/credit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo. One option is to use your foreign credit/debit card. However, there's an easy way to avoid the fees. You can pay with your bank account. You tell Gmarket which bank you use, and they instantly generate a personal bank account number. Note the amount of your bill, go to any ATM, insert your card (or bank book) and select the option to make a transfer. Enter the account number Gmarket gave you, and send your payment. That's it! Gmarket then proceeds with the shipping process.

Some things are still in Korean
There are some downsides, however. While the website has gotten better with their translations, most sellers have their product titles and descriptions in Korean. When you select different colors or sizes, they are usually in Korean as well. It helps to at least be able to read the language. Most colors, for example, are actually English words spelled out using the Korean alphabet.

Another downside are the clothing sizes. Koreans tend to be very thin, and their sizes reflect that. If you try to buy dresses, you'll find that many are "free size." That means one-size-fits-all. I'm thin, so that's fantastic for me. But, if you're not slender like the local Korean women, then you're out of luck for a lot of clothing.

Many foreign teachers choose to have their items delivered to them at work. I usually have them ship larger items directly to my apartment, even if I'm not home. One of this biggest advantages of all is that Korean people tend not to mess with your stuff. That's not to say that Koreans never steal -- but it's usually not in this capacity. So, it's really unlikely that someone will swipe your packages. That means none of this or this!

Luckily for me, I received my new oven and rice cooker while writing this blog post.

Happy shopping!

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