Lotte selling fresh produce onlineAlthough online shopping has rapidly expanded, when it comes to fresh produce, shoppers’ options are usually limited to a few types of vegetables because of issues with packaging and delivery timing.
Lotte Super, a supermarket chain under Lotte Group, is seeking to expand its online offerings of fresh products - including baked goods and perishable side dishes - by launching an online grocery mall and delivery system on Wednesday.
The new e-grocer Lotte Fresh will sell 4,200 products and guarantees delivery within three hours, Lotte Super said Monday.
The service will first be available to residents of Gangnam and Seocho districts because Lotte constructed a new distribution center in Seocho.
The logistics center will be exclusively for the online mall, distributing groceries from 21 Lotte Super stores in the two districts.
“Before we had the integrated center, an online shopper could only order groceries from a Lotte Super in their neighborhood,” said Choi Hyun-joo, a spokesman for the retailer.
Choi said that Gangnam and Seocho districts were chosen because of the number of online orders made there.
“We receive the highest amount of online orders from the two districts,” Choi said. “This is why we built the logistics center there.”
Lotte Fresh said that a delivery fee of 2,000 won ($1.80) will be charged for orders of less than 20,000 won.
Lotte also said that customers can get refunds or exchange their groceries by going to a Lotte Super store.
Other retailers as well as IT companies are also expanding in the e-grocery sector.
Like Lotte, E-Mart also recently opened a shipping center to serve its online mall with an improved storage system to keep produce fresh for longer.
G-Market, an e-commerce site operated by eBay Korea, launched a service dubbed G-Market Fresh for customers who want to buy produce directly from farms.
Another eBay company, Auction, launched a mobile-exclusive service in November that allows consumers to buy fresh produce via smartphones.
Auction said it has decided to launch the service as transactions of fresh produce goods accounted for roughly 40 percent of all purchases made on its mobile service lately.
Social commerce company Timon also noted recently that sales of fresh produce have been growing rapidly even among those who are in their mid-40s or older.
Despite the high number of people shopping online, selling groceries via the web poses some challenges.
While competing with traditional supermarkets on price, the e-grocery business must reduce distribution costs, which are high because most fresh produce needs to be shipped in special packaging.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]