By Park Ji-won
Supermarkets are strengthening their online shopping malls in response to the government's restrictions on the retail industry.
Last Wednesday, Lotte Mart, the supermarket chain of the Lotte Group, announced it will ship products purchased by customers online to the nearest Lotte Mart during the summer season.
On July 11, Homeplus, the retail supermarket chain of the Shinsegae Group, announced it will provide a mobile shipping tracking app for online orders, the first in the nation. The app will provide customers real-time location information of their orders.
"We have been putting in much effort on our online shopping mall due to the rising demand for online shopping, especially for fresh or heavy foods," said an official at Homeplus who declined to be named. Online sales of fresh food have been rising in the past few years.
"Supermarkets are also strengthening their online shopping malls in response to government regulations," he added. The government has been imposing strict regulations on the retail industry, which includes supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores.
In a recent report by Nonghyup Economic Research Institute, the strengthened online malls of three leading supermarkets have led to 1 trillion won ($892 billion) in sales in the past year.
A market insider said customers in their 20s and 30s are accustomed to the Internet and mobile phones, so they are more likely to purchase items online.
According to Gmarket, a leading online shopping mall, sales for the first six months of this year have risen 20 percent year on year. In March last year, the shopping mall introduced MartOn, a service that delivers fresh produce and other household necessities to customers' homes. MartOn enables customer to buy products from various sellers.