Online groceries orders taking off

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Online groceries orders taking off

In the month since the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), online sales of groceries have jumped.

E-Mart, the country’s leading discount chain, says sales of fresh food at its online mall rose 71.4 percent from June 1 to 22 compared with the same period last year.

Sales of meat rose nearly 90 percent, the company said, while vegetables jumped 102.1 percent, fruit 77.8 percent and seafood 65.1 percent.

E-Mart says it plans to build six more distribution centers for its online mall by 2020.

In order to maintain freshness, the retailer says, its online warehouse uses the so-called “cold chain system” that maintains the temperature at 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and uses insulated containers with cooling packs for deliveries.

Lotte Mart says online sales of fresh food rose 26.8 percent year-on-year from June 1 to 17.

In June 2013, sales of fresh items accounted for 22.2 percent of total sales at Lotte Mart’s online mall and the figure jumped to 31.6 percent as of last Friday, according to the company.

“Customers used to prefer buying fresh groceries at storefronts because they wanted to check the freshness with their own eyes,” said a Lotte Mart official. “But things are changing. More customers have decided to trust well-established retailers, knowing they sell the same items available at the storefronts.”

E-commerce companies are taking note of the trend, making moves to profit from the changes and expand their lines of fresh foods.

Korea’s leading social commerce company, Coupang, said last week it will expand its grocery offerings in collaboration with the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation.

Coupang says groceries will be delivered via its famous “rocket delivery” service and reach the doorsteps of customers as quickly as a single day.

Coupang will be directly involved with the purchasing, with the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation supplying fresh produce.

Gmarket, an e-commerce company, also is planning to set up an online event for fresh food this month.

“Open market directly links consumers with farmers,” said Park Young-keun, senior manager in charge of fresh produce at Gmarket. “Pricing is more attractive, and there also are a greater number of fresher goods.”


BY PARK JUNG-YOUN [park.jungyoun@joongang.co.kr]

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