Retailers think outside the grocery box in bid to attract customers
Major retailers are transforming their offline branches to focus more on experiences as well as products in a bid to increase footfall in an increasingly hostile market.
Emart on Wednesday announced that it has redesigned its Wolgye branch in Nowon District, northern Seoul, to offer customized services and fun experiences. After a 10-month refurbishment, Emart will open The Town Mall on Thursday, a shopping mall with more external retailers, entertainment services and an improved range of groceries.
Activities available within the store include trampolining and zip-lining. As well as the main Emart grocery store, there are now 30 additional food and beverage stores, up from the previous 12.
“The renewal is aimed at maximizing customers’ time in the store,” said Lee Jae-beom, a manager at Emart’s Wolgye branch. “Through the renewal, made in consideration of the retail environment and changes in people’s lifestyles, the grocery section has been strengthened and [external] retailers offering trendy and differentiated services [have been brought in].”
One focus of the reopened store is customized food. For instance, customers can specify the thickness and shape of the raw fish they want to purchase, rather than taking pre-cut fish off the shelves. Whole fish will be displayed for the customers to choose from.
“Such displays could be fun for parents and children, like a field trip,” said Joo Gyeong-don, a spokesperson for Emart. “We hoped to offer more things to see and experience through the renewal.”
Lotte Shopping on the same day announced it has refurbished its premium outlet in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi. The new store is designed to be more like a shopping mall, including popular brands, a golf studio and a shop where customers can rent artwork.
The outlet transforms into a mall starting Friday.
The idea is to provide more entertainment services to “increase people’s time in the store,” according to Lotte Shopping.
“Lotte Gwangmyeong Mall will become a cultural shopping complex that has differentiated content and trendy brands while keeping the economical standard that was set at the premium outlet,” said Seo Yong-seok, a manager at Lotte Mall in Gwangmyeong.
Lotte Shopping also plans to open a Lotte Hi-Mart mega store in Suwon, Gyeonggi, on Friday. The four-story building not only sells electronics goods, but also has a laundromat and pet grooming area.
“Retailers are trying to provide value beyond those provided by e-commerce operators, like economic price, delivery speed and product diversification — through their offline stores,” said Seo Yong-gu, a professor of business administration at Sookmyung Women’s University. “Unlike in the past, offline stores provide benefits for loyal customers, like offering special treatments.”
BY JIN MIN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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