Naver to launch shopping site for offline retailers

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Naver to launch shopping site for offline retailers

Naver said Friday it will launch an online-to-offline shopping platform next month aimed at drawing online shoppers to small, independently owned stores.

The move reflects the retail industry’s trend of attempting to blur the lines between online and offline shopping. The sales model, called O2O, uses online and mobile technology to boost sales at offline stores.

Consumers on Naver’s O2O platform Shopwindow can browse and buy items that are sold only in physical shops. The nation’s No. 1 portal website said it will not charge merchants commission fees if they display their products on Shopwindow because the intent is to support them.

“This business is not aimed at maximizing profits,” said a representative of Naver.

“We are trying to help small mom-and-pop owners and contribute to creating a better retail business ecology,” the representative said.

O2O business could be a rare opportunity for stores to make up for lost ground as more people shop online.

At some overseas O2O platforms, consumers can pick their item up at the store, but Shopwindow will start by only offering a delivery option.

The items for sale on Shopwindow will be divided into three categories - fashion, fresh produce and groceries, and furniture.

In the fashion section, the website will show clothes and accessories in small shops in areas like the Hongik University neighborhood and Sinchon in western Seoul.

“Many of the shops are located near Hongik University because we found the district’s shops could appeal to young online shoppers,” said a public relations official at Naver.

Naver is already running a pilot version of the fashion category with 200 participating shops, including 9115 and 3rd Morning.

During the trial, Naver said that it will focus on popular shops in the Hongik University and Sinsa-dong areas, but will expand the service.

For furniture, Naver will feature independent retailers in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, and Samcheong-dong in central Seoul. Naver noted that by going online, furniture shops’ products will be more appealing.

“People can see a variety of interior design options and predict how it will fit their home when sellers put extra pictures online,” the representative said.

Naver said it will cooperate with farmers in regional cities for its produce and groceries section.


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