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This in-depth guide to South Korea explores the key trends in grocery retail and the growth strategies of the leading retailers in the country.

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South Korean retail giant Shinsegae is to open a new Emart Traders store in Seoul this month, which will be its first branch in the capital. 

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Hailed as South Korea’s answer to Amazon, Shinsegae is to launch SSG.com in March 2019 by integrating its two online businesses.

Integration driven by demand

SSG.com is formed by combining Shinsegae’s two online business units, the Shinsegae mall and the Emart mall. The company made the announcement back in January 2018 and is now going ahead with the plan.

The integration of online shopping operations is to effectively absorb a rapidly growing demand for e-commerce deals under the single brand of SSG.com,” a company spokesman commented.

Getting ready to become top ecommerce performer

Shinesgae has set ambitious goal for SSG.com. The online business aims to achieve sales revenue of KRW3tn (US$2.8bn) in 2019, a year-on-year growth of 29%.

The company hopes to achieve this ambition through effective marketing as well as much improved delivery service.

Investment will be made to open the company’s third distribution centre in Gimpo, Gyeonggi, in the second half of 2019 to improve delivery efficiency and speed.

With the official launch of SSG.com, we are getting ready to become the country’s top e-commerce enterprise,” said Choi Woo-jung, the CEO of SSG.com.

Instead of just selling goods online, we are also planning to function as a ‘Linker’ by connecting consumers online and offline like [offering them the platform to] share their lifestyles on the internet.”

 

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South Korea retail conglomerate opened a new format for its Emart brand, called the SSG Food Market, in Seoul.

A fusion of supermarket and food hall

The new 4,000 sqm development is a fusion of premium supermarket and food hall. It includes an extensive fresh food department, with additional features such as a fishmonger, a butcher, a Korean deli, a sushi restaurant, a café, a florist and a 200 seat restaurant.  

The store also has franchises such as Starbucks as well as third party retailers.  

Design attention is paid to every customer touchpoints, from signage and communications, packaging and uniforms, menus, point of sales, furniture and fixtures, to create a coherent and strong branding image.

Transforming customers’ shopping experience

SSG targets shoppers from various age groups. At the basement of two high-end residential apartment buildings and open until 10pm, SSG is designed to serve as a community centre for residents and nearby shoppers to meet, eat and shop throughout the day.

The SSG project was a transformation of customer’s shopping habits,” says Emart head of strategy Brian Kim. “Through our new store design, refurbished brand identity, well-curated products, and F&B mix, we have made SSG place for every-day shopping as well as social gathering.”

The store has received great positive feedback since opening. In a highly competitive grocery marketplace, SSG is engaging shoppers through an authentic culinary experience and it seems to be doing well.

 

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South Korean’s largest retail chain Emart snatched up US food retailer Good Food Holdings for $275mn.

Emart’s first foreign acquisition

California-based Good Food operates 24 stores under three banners: Bristol Farms, Lazy Acres and Metropolitan Market. With this acquisition, Emart will gain 12 Bristol Farm’s stores, five Lazy Acre’s and seven Metropolitan Market stores. This is Emart’s first foreign acquisition. Good Food’s executive board will be retained.

We are not planning to make any changes in the management of Good Food Holdings,” said an Emart spokesman. “Nothing in the operations of the three grocery chains will change in the immediate future.”

Break into the US market

The acquisition of Good Food sees Emart break into the US market in a big way. It intends to provide the retailer with stability and allows it to expand operations in North America. In October, Emart made an announcement to open a premium grocery store, called PK Market, in Los Angeles next year. PK Market will be in direct competition with a nearby Whole Foods Market store.

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South Korea’s FTC (Fair Trade Commission) approved a set of voluntary rules agreed by convenience store operators to better protect struggling franchisees.

Minimum distance between stores

Five members of the Korea Association of Convenience Store Industry, CU, GS25, 7-ELEVEN, MINISTOP, C-SPACE and Emart24, came up with a voluntary agreement to curb excessive competition.

A key centerpieceof the agreement is that stores of rival brands should be at least 50 metres away from each other. This is the first time the convenience stores have set the minimum distance since 2000.

Move to ease market saturation

FTC’s approval will see the voluntary agreement to be applied to to 96% (38,000) of convenience stores nationwide.

The number of convenience stores has risen sharply to at least 40,000 last year, driven by an increase of single-member and two-people households.

Kim Sang-jo, chairman of the FTC, said the regulations could ease saturation and prevent reckless new openings in areas where there are already many existing stores.

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