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YouTube to launch its first official shopping channel in South Korea, Yonhap reports

SEOUL (Reuters) – YouTube will launch its first official shopping channel for live commerce in South Korea on June 30, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.

South Korea already has a booming live-streaming commerce business led by tech giant Naver (035420.KS), making it a prime test market for the global heavyweight as the Alphabet-owned (GOOGL.O) company focuses on becoming more “shoppable”.

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The new channel will operate in Korean language and will start as a 90-day project. In the beginning it will provide a live-commerce platform to companies and plans to livestream shopping content from about 30 brands, Yonhap and other Korean media said, citing people familiar with the matter.

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It is YouTube’s first official shopping channel in any country, Yonhap said.

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“We may experiment with a variety of YouTube Shopping features from time to time,” a YouTube spokesperson said, without elaborating.

With YouTube’s ad revenue affected by advertisers curtailing spending and competition from platforms like TikTok, Google’s Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said in February there was “lots of potential in making it easier for people to shop from the creators, brands and content they love”.

Shares in Naver fell 4% on Wednesday morning, while retailer Lotte Shopping (023530.KS) fell 3.3%, versus the wider market’s (.KS11) 0.5% drop.

South Korea’s live commerce market is projected to grow to 10 trillion won ($7.7 billion) this year from 2.8 trillion won in 2021, with Naver currently holding about 60% market share, according to Kyobo Securities.

($1 = 1,291.1600 won)

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