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THE INVESTOR
June 21, 2021

[News Focus] Coupang, E-mart, Market Kurly join race to offer cheapest price as competition grows

  • PUBLISHED :April 12, 2021 - 15:50
  • UPDATED :April 12, 2021 - 15:53
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(Yonhap)

Major e-commerce giants in South Korea are offering the cheapest prices and free delivery to keep an edge over their rivals, as competition grows amid the pandemic-fueled online shopping boom.

E-commerce grocer Market Kurly was the latest to ramp up competition on Monday as it announced its “Every Day Low Price” -- a lowest-price guarantee program for some 60 food products.

The new measure will see the platform offer products such as rice, instant noodles, fresh vegetables and fruit at lower prices than rivals.

Market Kurly said it will adjust the prices of select items on a daily basis after monitoring the price tags on other platforms.

“The EDLP products do not just come with a lower price but have a high quality thanks to our thorough selection process regarding flavors and production methods,” the online grocer said.

Having signed actor Park Seo-joon as its brand ambassador, the online grocer is also running a promotional campaign offering some popular items at the price of 100 won ($0.78) to new users as part of efforts to expand its market presence.

The move comes just days after E-mart, a major supermarket chain owned by retail giant Shinsegae Group, announced it would give customers online credit points known as “e-money” if they found that the same products were being sold elsewhere at a cheaper price.

Through E-mart’s new policy, which will take effect at both its physical stores and its mobile app, shoppers can save up to 3,000 points to be used within a period of 30 days.

“E-mart has strengthened its edge as an offline supermarket by focusing on experiential elements such as redesigning its stores, offering a distinctive range of groceries,” said Choi Hoon-hak, the supermarket chain’s chief marketer.

Choi added the move would serve as an opportunity to give E-mart a price advantage.

Describing the low-price guarantee policy, the supermarket singled out “Coupang, Lotte Mart and Homeplus” as its rivals in a statement.

But the decision was largely seen as a direct challenge to Coupang, which launched a promotional campaign earlier this month to offer a free trial of its subscription-based Rocket Delivery service, delivering Rocker Delivery products for free.

Senior director at Coupang, Sachin Kapur explained the decision was to let more people experience Coupang’s free delivery service, saving customers’ time doing research and finding better deals as well as ordering products whenever they want.

The series of moves come as online shopping has enjoyed a surge in popularity since last year as shoppers went online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to data from market tracker WiseApp, transactions on Coupang reached an estimated 21.75 trillion won, a 41 percent jump from an estimated 15.41 trillion won the previous year.

While in-store shopping sales among the major retailers dropped by 3.6 percent, sales at major online retailers including Coupang, E-mart Mall and Gmarket rose 18.4 percent, according to data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)

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