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South Korean retailer Lotte Mart has just added its 14th store in Hanoi.

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7-Eleven is trialling an unmanned locker service called Seven Locker in Seoul, South Korea.

Profit-generating initiative

The service is part of company’s initiatives to diversify operations and generate more profits for its convenience stores.

The lockers will be set up near tourist attractions and entertainment areas where there is demand for such services among locals and visitors. Depending on the size of the space, storage fees will range from KRW2,000 (US$1.8) to KRW4,000 for a four-hour period.

The plan going forward

The trial starts with two stores in Seoul’s Hongdae and Jongno districts, with another eight to open by end of 2018. Further 100 lockers are planned to be placed at 7-Eleven stores across the country in the first half of 2019. The service is to be extended to all key stores.

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The group has revised its five-year plan and now aims to spend US$44bn (KRW50tn) through 2023.

Significant investment in ecommerce

Of the total investment, 25% will go to retail to be spent on ecommerce infrastructure, logistics, big data and AI. Lotte plans to hire 70,000 workers during the five-year period, mainly in the ecommerce sector. This big investment to bring physical stores online is a significant step up from its previous announcement.

Pushing into new markets

The group also announced that 10% of the US$44bn will be invested on foods, which includes expanding across Asia. In China, Lotte’s retail business has been struggling with a boycott by Chinese consumers and Lotte may be moving on from China. The group said it will push into new markets and expand in Indonesia and Vietnam.

In a statement this week, Lotte Group, noted, "The plan reflects our will to quickly normalise management activities that recently slowed, secure competitiveness for future growth and to contribute to revitalising the national economy."

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7-Eleven in South Korea has launched a new fully automated 'express' format.

Another automated store...

Having launched its first unstaffed convenience store at Lotte World Tower in Seoul last year, 7-Eleven is now testing its latest 'express' format. South Korea continues to see the rise of self-service and cashier-less stores with various retailers exploring this space. 

7-Eleven's new concept store consists of five vending machines in the shape of an express train. It is currently testing four stores, two of which are being trialed at the headquarters of 7-Eleven in Seoul, one at Lotte E&M in Incheon, and the other at the headquarters of Lotte Rent-a-Car in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province.

More about 7-Eleven express

The 10-metre long express stores carry 200 products across five key categories; drinks, snacks, prepared meals, processed food and non-food products. They are also cashless, and shoppers can pay via a prepaid transit card or credit card after inputting the product number into the machine. For shoppers looking for a quick snack, the store features a microwave and a hot water dispenser in the central area for convenience.

South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group is looking to sell some of its department stores in China, edging closer to exiting the market completely. 

Sales impacted by THAAD and consumer sentiment

The retailer currently operates five department stores in China. Lotte department stores in Tianjin and in Weihai, Shandong Province are likely to close first, while stores in Shenyang and Chengdu in Sichuan province are expected to operate a little longer. Sales at Lotte's department operations in China fell 22% to KRW76bn (US$68m) last year, resulting in KRW70bn in operating losses.

Since March last year, the impact of THAAD has been widely reported, as has consumer sentiment towards Korean products and retailers. The retailer's supermarket business Lotte Mart, for example, has 14 stores remaining after selling its operations in Beijing and Shanghai.

New ecommerce department setup

Lotte has launched a new department in charge of the Group’s online businesses in South Korea. The move is part of a plan to capitalise on the country’s fast growing online market. Only three months ago, Lotte outlined its ecommerce investment plans over the next five years, targeting KRW20tn (US$15.2bn) in sales by 2022. The new ecommerce department has approx. 1,400 employees, and has plans to launch a mobile app in 2020 to provide optimised services supported by Big Data.

Lotte Duty Free store closes at Incheon

Meanwhile, Lotte Duty Free, the retailer’s duty-free business has closed its operations at Incheon International Airport. It decided to return three of its four money-losing concessions at the country’s main gateway in February. Lotte is now redirecting its attention by investing in downtown duty-free stores, overseas expansion and online services

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