The big business of K-pop merchandise: How a store reaches fans online
A.M. Baekpeo Online Store and Services
Whether it's buying artisanal soap made by a friend, visiting a local organic bee farm, or merely choosing homemade products over mass-produced goods, Filipinos are more inclined to support small local businesses. Maybe it's our strong ties to the community or the belief that "supporting local" helps our local economy. Perhaps it's the idea that handcrafted products are considered special and more valuable when compared to mass-produced goods due to the time and passion put into making them. Whatever the reason may be, the commitment to supporting local businesses, despite some products coming in at a higher price tag (which may sound incredulous to some) comes from a place of optimistic acceptance that we all share. After all, true support comes from loyalty and the belief that hard work should be rewarded no matter the cost.
Likewise, at the height of the K-wave in the country, many Filipino fans have started buying merchandise of their favorite idols and groups to show their loyalty and support. These merchandise can range from limited edition albums to lightsticks and even collectible photocards. And they are always in demand and don't always come cheap. But like our instinct to support local businesses, a fan's love and support for their idols and groups are exhibited by their near unconditional purchase of collectable merchandise. Beliefs like these aren't unfounded either. Some K-pop groups have trained for as long as 10 years to become proficient at their craft being debuting. The music videos are always well-produced and the idols themselves are relatable, respectful, and funny. And of course, many fans have their own favorites or "biases" in each group. It's no wonder that there are millions of K-pop fans — the admiration of such talent is only natural. The fans and "stans" (as they call themselves) are a loyal community that exists all over the world.
Likewise, at the height of the K-wave in the country, many Filipino fans have started collecting merchandise of their favorite idols and groups to show their loyalty and support. These merchandise can range from limited edition albums to lightsticks and even collectible photocards.
Signed albums available for pre-order at A.M. Baekpeo Online Store and Services (left) and the store's logo (right). Source: ambaekpeo.com and Angelica Macalalad
The K-pop collector's collection
Clicking through Angelica Macalalad's store website, A.M. Baekpeo Online Store and Services, you can find numerous products and services, all of which are related to Korea. Under the "K-POP" section, you can pre-order K-pop albums from likes of 2AM or MonstaX, or go to "K-DRAMA & K-MOVIES" to browse the latest original soundtrack (OST) albums of popular K-dramas like "Hometown Cha Cha Cha". There's even a "K-FOOD" section where you can order Nongshim instant noodles by the pack. The dedication to each K-category is in itself worthy of admiration. The K-pop section alone lists a combined total of 78 idols and groups with the latest albums available for pre-order, each with highly detailed product descriptions. The attention to detail is made more impressive when you consider that Angelica has carpal tunnel syndrome which makes packing a considerable challenge and yet she still makes sure that every piece of merchandise is neatly packed for delivery.
Cicking through Angelica Macalalad's store website, A.M. Baekpeo Online Store and Services, you can find numerous products and services, all of which are related to Korea.
A transparent and trustworthy online store
Only a true fan understands the intricacies of buying a collectible item. One look at the extensive delivery information, product description, and shipping guide gives the impression that the store is credible and trustworthy. Clicking on the Blu-ray edition of BTS's "MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E" priced at PHP 2,900.000 (which is currently sold out), for example, shows the specs of the outbox, the postcard set, and the contents of the disk. Not to mention, there's also an additional paragraph that states all album sales will be reflected on South Korea's Gaon and Hanteo music charts, something that only a true K-pop fan and collector would be aware of or even care about. When we asked Angelica why she chose K-pop and K-goods, she said, "The very reason is that I really love having [these] merchandise and I love the feeling that I can share my love for them by selling them to other fans. Aside from the fact that the demand is really high for these products, I also feel contentment and joy while selling and collecting them."
In addition to album pre-orders, A.M. Baekpeo Online Store and Services also selles magazines, photocards, and photocard binders. Source: Angelica Macalala
As the No.1 ecommerce platform in South Korea, Cafe24 is no stranger to the K-pop business as top industry giants like SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment have chosen to open their own official merchandise websites on the Cafe24 platform. While the K-wave continues to attract international attention from around the globe, our article focuses on a more local story of an entrepreneurial collector who has made K-pop merchandise more readily available in the Philippines. We interviewed Angelica Maclalad whose true fandom is exemplified in her mastery of speaking the Korean language despite being a full-blooded Filipino, as we dive into the challenges Angelica faced and her motivations for opening an online K-store.
Can you describe yourself to our readers? How would you describe your work situation?
I'm Angelica Macalalad and I am 26 years old. I graduated with a Business Economics degree and I now manage an all-"K" online store as my full-time job. I juggle this with my Shopee store, and since school classes are starting again, I'll also be tutoring my nephews on the side. I also have carpal tunnel syndrome which makes my work a bit more difficult but I try my best to do it all.
What's the name of your store?
It's A.M. Baekpeo Online Store and Services but I registered it at the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) as A.M. Baekpeo Hobbies & Collectibles Online Store.
Your store is a sight to behold! How long have you been selling K-merchandise?
I've been selling Korean merchandise as well as albums since 2018. Before then, it was really hard to compete with other sellers as they were much bigger but I still tried to continue on with my small business.
I have actually been a K-pop and K-drama fan since 2011, but I was not able to start my business until I finished college because of my studies. However, I immediately started [my business] right after that. While applying and waiting for job opportunities, I started my journey by selling Korean albums and merch, but only as a part-time gig. Then I moved to Thailand for a job and continued accepting pre-orders. When my contract in Thailand was done, I then decided to go into online selling full-time. I invested my savings and got some loans so I could have additional stocks on hand and sell faster when doing pre-orders.
How do you find your products and choose what to sell?
I source my products from different Korean stores and suppliers. I select stores based on the demand, for example if customers want something from Weverse, then I'll source the products from there. I also have local contacts but I source those manually. I can also speak Korean so I think of it as my edge as a seller as I can make more affordable deals by talking to suppliers in their language.
I source my products from different Korean stores and suppliers. I select stores based on the demand, for example if customers want something from Weverse, then I'll source the products from there.
Do you remember your first sale? What social media platforms did you market your products on, if any?
It was a long time ago. I can't really remember but I used Google Forms to retrieve orders from Twitter back then. It was always [done] that way, but that's changed now that I have my own online store.
Having sold your products through social media, how does your experience compare with selling on Cafe24? Is it better or worse?
Honestly, it is way better! I am very familiar with Cafe24 as I see it being used by other Korean stores. I always thought that it was very easy to use as a consumer. Now that I'm using it as a merchant, I can vouch that it's really easy to use and the pages do not crash. The website is very straightforward and it's easy to check through orders, unlike forms where even printing a transaction summary was impossible.
That's great to hear! What problems were you able to solve by using our platform?
I had several problems when using third-party forms. First off, forms can be inaccurate sometimes, especially when there's an error in the setup. Secondly, forms can be edited by customers so that was a hassle for me when I was checking my order sheet and there were changes made by customers. I think I really wanted my own website as it looks more professional. It is also a lot easier to track orders especially when customers cancel without warning since Cafe24 can easily filter out canceled orders. Lastly, a website is just less of a hassle for both the merchant and customer in general.
I think I really wanted my own website as it looks more professional. It is also a lot easier to track orders especially when customers cancel without warning since Cafe24 can easily filter out canceled orders. Lastly, a website is just less of a hassle for both the merchant and customer in general.
How did you discover Cafe24?
I discovered Cafe24 when I learned that SM Entertainment was partnering up with them and I also read that they are involved with Naver. Before that, while I was browsing through the online stores, I noticed that a lot of them have similar designs. Due to my curiosity, I decided to look up their provider and it turns out that they all use Cafe24.
On the other hand, I discovered Cafe24 Philippines while browsing through Facebook one day. A Cafe24 ad popped up on my feed and coincidentally I was also planning to set up an online store at that time so I decided to look into it further. When I saw that it's free, I immediately signed up and started my journey.
A.M. Baekpeo' Online Store and Services' K-drama & K-movies category page.Source: ampbaekpeo.com
Aside from Cafe24, what other tools do you use for your business?
I use Twitter and Shopee as part of my marketing strategy and to broaden my reach. I use Shopee since there are a lot of potential customers there.
What was your goal when you created your store on Cafe24?
My main goal was to give a new lease of life to my online business [by adding] ease of use, reliability, and credibility. I really love how easy it is to upload product listings and how the website design is so neat.
Was there anything that surprised you about Cafe24? Are there any features you liked or found unique?
I was surprised to see two options for building your online store. There's Edibot for easy editing and Smart Themes for those who have experience with coding. I really like the easy drag and drop feature for the website builder, and there's also the "app" feature for phones too. Lastly, you can enable the store credit and points feature on your store.
What benefits were you able to see when using Cafe24's solution?
Stability, credibility, and broader reach.
How is Cafe24 better than other store website builders that you've tried?
For a free service, I think Cafe24 is very comprehensive. Cafe24 has two different website builders you can use, app add-ons, easy integration with Shopee and Lazada, delivery management, and payment setup.