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Convenience stores doing more

Drop off your laundry or pay for a ticket at the place you buy beer

Aug 01,2019
CU dry cleaning service. [CU]
Convenience stores are becoming lifestyle stores, where customers can drop by and deal with daily chores, like dry cleaning.

Experts argue offering unique services has become inevitable for convenience store chains as they work to survive in the saturated market.

CU started offering a dry cleaning service this month in collaboration with start-up Oh! Laundry. CU said the service has been initiated to meet the potential demand of single-person households that wish to enjoy the service 24-7.

The users have to reserve the service on the mobile page of the laundry service provider, and then register on a package reception device at a CU store. The laundry is taken to Oh! Laundry by a delivery person who normally delivers CU packages. It takes one to two days before the clean laundry is returned. There’s no charge for delivery.

The service will be initiated at 3,000 CU stores in metropolitan areas, but will be expanded nationwide following the test period.

The company said it expects to see more people visit the stores because of the additional services, which could result in increased sales.

“As a consumption channel that is open 24-7, convenience stores are able to offer diverse services in collaboration with other companies,” said merchandiser Kim Jee-hee from BGF Retail that operates CU. “We hope to raise the competitiveness of the company by actively adopting new ideas that reflect rapidly changing lifestyles.”

Apart from the laundry service, CU partnered with car-sharing company Socar and GreenCar, another car sharing company operated by Lotte Rental, to offer temporary parking spaces. It also offers Hi-pass card charging.

GS25 also provides unique services, like the coffee subscriptions and foreign currency payment services.

GS25 initiated the coffee subscription last month. The company accepted 3,000 subscriptions in 13 hours, according to GS25. Users can drink up to 30 cups of coffee per month for 25,000 won ($22.40).

“We ran the test service for a month,” said a spokesperson for the firm. “We plan to continue offer subscription services based on the customer response.”

The foreign currency payment service allows customers to pay for items at the stores in four foreign currencies: dollars, yuan, yen and euros.

7-Eleven partnered with T’way Air last year to facilitate the payment processing of tickets for students and foreigners who may have difficulty paying with credit cards. After reserving a ticket on the web page of the budget carrier, they can pay at 7-Eleven.

“The quantitative growth of convenience store has ended with the number of stores having reached 50,000 units,” said Seo Yong-gu, a professor of business at Sookmyung Women’s University. “Despite the market being saturated, convenience stores are growing, in contrast to the discount chain marts, thanks to the unique services they offer.”

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]


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