Korean Alibaba – How to buy on the tradeKorea platform?

South Korea is one of the largest exporters of goods globally, and it ranks fifth in this respect. When preparing to import from Korea, it’s worth checking out what suppliers from the tradeKorea portal have in their offers. It’s an online B2B platform (business-to-business), often called a Korean version of the famous Alibaba. How to buy on the tradeKorea platform?

Importing from South Korea

Although importing from South Korea is not as popular as importing from China, it enjoys the interest of many entrepreneurs. South Korea is widely known for its innovativeness and rapid development, attracting international importers’ attention. The country’s primary exports are electronics, footwear, textiles, fish, steel, and complete industrial facilities (chemical, energy, telecommunications).

Importing from South Korea may be an excellent idea for a profitable business. However, one must remember about a few critical issues. When importing goods to the European Union or the United States, you must ensure that your products meet all the applicable requirements, have mandatory markings, and complete documentation. Moreover, before organizing import, the buyer must check duty rates for their product. European entrepreneurs can check tariffs and HS codes in the TARIC system. On the other hand, customs rates and HTS codes for goods imported into the United States are in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule System.

The import process is also associated with the necessity to organize transportation. You can transit your package from South Korea by sea, air, or multimodal transport. When discussing the order transport issue with your supplier, remember to inquire about Incoterms regulations. Incoterms precisely delineate the division of responsibilities and costs between both parties to the transaction.

Check how to organize shipping from South Korea to the EU and the US!

How to find suppliers from Korea?

The easiest way to look for Korean suppliers is by using an e-commerce platform that gathers many exporters in one place. In South Korea, such a portal is tradeKorea. As we have already mentioned, tradeKorea is a Korean B2B platform, working similarly to Chinese Alibaba. Therefore, it enables easy searching for suppliers of Korean goods and quick communication with manufacturers. The platform offers a vast choice of various items in fourteen main categories and many smaller sub-categories. On tradeKorea, you can buy, among others, stationery, home décor accessories and furniture, electronics and electrical devices, medical equipment, cosmetics, and others.

Main product categories on tradeKorea are:

  • Beauty & Personal Care;
  • Food & Beverage;
  • Fashion;
  • Home & Kitchen;
  • Sport, Gifts & Toys;
  • Stationery & Printing;
  • Health & Medical;
  • Electronic Products;
  • Vehicles & Accessories;
  • Equipment & Packaging;
  • Electrical Components & Telecoms;
  • Machinery & Parts;
  • Industrial Supplies;
  • Construction & Safety.

The website is available in three language versions – English, Korean, and Chinese. There is also a possibility of automatic translation to a few other languages via google translate.

Korean Alibaba - categories

How to use the tradeKorea portal?

Step 1. Registration on tradeKorea

Using the tradeKorea platform is entirely free of charge. TradeKorea allows looking through the available offers without the necessity to create an account, however, signing up is recommended. Registration on the website requires going over several steps, which we will explain shortly. To create an account, you need to choose the “Join Free” option in the upper right corner of the home page, as shown in the picture below.

Registration on tradeKorea

Next, the portal will ask you to choose your company’s localization. As a foreign entrepreneur, you must select the “Global” option and proceed to the following step of registration. Then, you need to enter your e-mail address, so the platform can verify it and fill in a form to which the website will redirect you. You have to provide all the necessary information about your company to complete the registration process in the form.

Korean Alibaba - registration form

Step 2. Searching for Korean suppliers

There are a few possible methods for searching for manufacturers of specific products. The first option is choosing one of the previously mentioned categories or sub-categories. Through this method, the website will show you different products of the selected group. The other way is specifying what you are looking for by entering the product’s name or HS code in the top search bar on the home page. Next, tradeKorea will display Korean suppliers’ current offers for you.

Searching for suppliers on tradeKorea

It’s worth mentioning that on its home page, the platform marks out, e.g., most willingly bought goods from various categories, the most popular categories, and the highest-graded suppliers. In this way, you can find out which companies or goods mostly attract the interest of consumers.

Top products on the Korean Alibaba
Best selling products

The searched products are displayed in five columns and presented with a photo. Under the picture, you can find the product’s and the seller’s name and check a “Supplier Grade.” The supplier’s grade can range from zero to five golden crowns. However, one must remember that a manufacturer’s high grade doesn’t prove their 100% credibility. The crowns are awarded by the portal based on the yearly activity of a specific user. Thus, they don’t inform you about a supplier’s reliability.

At this moment, the website also enables filtering the results according to our liking. Available filtering options are on the left side. You can change the search preferences by category, supplier’s grade, certificates, and region. Keep in mind that not only Korean but also international exporters post their offers on the website. Therefore, if you’re looking for a supplier from Korea, you must choose “South Korea” as the company’s origin area.

tradeKorea - offer

Step 3. Selecting a product

If any product grabs your attention and you want more information about it, simply click on its picture. The website will redirect you to the specific item’s profile, where you will find its detailed description and MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity), check the terms of sale and find the seller’s data. To proceed to the supplier’s profile, select the “Company Information” option.

Selecting a product on the Korean Alibaba

As you can see in the picture above, it sometimes happens that an exporter provides a possibility to negotiate nearly all terms of sale. In such a situation, it means that to find out more details, you need to contact the supplier directly. You can do it by choosing a “Send Message” or “Send to supplier inquiry” option. When contacting a seller, we recommend raising all the significant issues for import, such as already mentioned MOQ, certificates or other documents, the payment and transport methods, and Incoterms rules.

Contacting supplier on tradeKorea

A supplier’s profile on tradeKorea

Another method to find more information about a supplier is choosing the “Minisite” option. Every company dealing on the tradeKorea platform has its own “minisite” that provides the most crucial details about its business and activity. Depending on a seller, they can grant access to various information. Most often, you will be able to check the company’s year of finding, its localization, the number of employees, its official website address, and contact details.

A supplier's profile on tradeKorea

Buying on tradeKorea – What do you need to know?

One of the most crucial issues when ordering via online platforms is staying alert and verifying suppliers before making a transaction. Importing through e-commerce portals is always associated with some risk. A supplier’s high grade on a portal is not enough to guarantee that the company is reliable and worth cooperating with.

When importing goods from South Korea, don’t forget about mandatory documentation and markings, as well as the payment of customs and tax duties. For customs clearance of any product in the EU, you need a commercial invoice, a packing list, and a bill of lading (for sea freight) or an air waybill (for air freight). American importers must also have an entry manifest (CBP Form 7533). Moreover, all products entering the US must have a COO (Country of Origin) label attached.

However, keep in mind that many goods also require other certificates or markings (e.g., the CE mark and documentation in the EU). For this reason, it is so important to get to know your product well and all legal regulations related to it.