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Hypermarket franchise Homeplus picks different path to focus on offline businesses

By Park Sae-jin Posted : December 6, 2021, 16:01 Updated : December 6, 2021, 16:01

[Courtesy of Homeplus]

SEOUL -- Unlike South Korea's retail industry that shifts gradually to online and mobile shopping markets, hypermarket franchise operator Homeplus picked a different path to bolster its offline business by opening new supermarkets and renovating old mega-marts to attract customers who wish to buy fresh goods.
The retail industry has experienced an epochal change due to a coronavirus pandemic. The offline store market was battered hard by a prolonged social distancing campaign, but the market value of online shopping rose from 135 trillion won ($114 billion) in 2019 to 150 trillion won in 2020. The Korea Online Shopping Association predicted that the online shopping market would reach 224 trillion won in 2022.
To meet growing online demands, retailers including Shinsegae and Coupang have strengthened online shopping businesses, especially in one-day and overnight delivery capabilities, by building more logistics centers and creating new monthly subscription services that offer free parcel delivery fees.
Homeplus said in a statement on December 6 that the franchise would open new supermarket stores and renovate 17 outdated megastores. Offline stores will house more fresh goods while reducing the number of non-food products to avoid competition with other online-centered retailers. Rest areas and experience zones will be set up to provide a differentiated shopping experience.
"We will develop and provide new products and services that match rapidly-changing consumer trends to offer new shopping experiences," Homeplus CEO Lee Je-hoon was quoted as saying. The exterior and interior including store bathrooms and nursing rooms will be renovated.
Under its two-track strategy, the franchise decided to boost its daily online delivery capacity to more than 130,000 by increasing the number of logistic depots and delivery vehicles. Homeplus has established small-sized logistic centers at its hypermart buildings. Some three thousand special-role employees called "pickers" will be hired by 2025 to pick up and pack products requested by one-day delivery customers.

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