Coupang founding CEO Bom Kim poses at the company's head office in Seoul. Photo courtesy of Coupang

Korean e-commerce giant discloses 3Q performances

South Korea’s e-commerce giant Coupang announced on Nov. 10 that it had chalked up $91 million in net income during the third quarter of this year, turning a profit for the first time in eight years.

The Seoul-based company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, also recorded $5.1 billion in quarterly revenue, up 10 percent from a year ago.

The expanding user base appears to underpin Coupang’s performance as around 18 million customers purchased products through Coupang at least once during the July-September period, up 7 percent year-on-year.

Coupang’s revenues mostly come from South Korea, but it has tried to tap into other Asian countries, including Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and China.

Since its foundation in 2014, Coupang has carried out aggressive marketing strategies to attract customers. As a result, its overall losses amounted to $4.4 billion over the past eight years.

However, it managed to reduce its losses of late, prompting observers to predict that it would turn a profit in the near future.

Coupang said that it could become profitable thanks to its investments in technology, infrastructure, supply chain optimization, and process innovation.

“Our continued progress is a reflection of billions of dollars invested over the past seven years to build an unrivaled network that integrates technology, fulfillment, and last-mile logistics,” Coupang’s founding CEO Bom Kim said.

“We will continue investing in process optimization and automation, including machine learning and robotics, to deliver even richer experiences and lower prices for our customers,” he added.

Watchers expect that Coupang will be able to remain profitable for the time being.

“Experts thought that Coupang would turn a profit next year at the earliest. But it did so faster than expected thanks to the popularity of the e-commerce services,” Prof. Seo Yong-gu at Sookmyung Women’s University said.

“Because Coupang expands its market share against major competitors, the company is likely to remain profitable for the years to come.”

Hillary Lee studied literature in Seoul. Lee has big interests on various topics including IT, BT, business and finance. Lee can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.