Gmarket is the latest in a series of South Korean retailers to launch an online fresh produce delivery service in response to growing demand from consumers, reports the Korean Joongang Daily.
On Monday (27 March), Gmarket launched Gtable – an online service that supplies seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables from farms around Korea, it said.
Commenting on the launch, Park Young-geun, head of the fresh food team at Gmarket, told the website: “We noticed that more consumers were purchasing fresh food online. The service aim is not just delivery but to suggest a more healthy lifestyle to our users.”
Gtable is starting out with nine products, including salads, oranges, nut mixes and vegetable sets, mainly priced between 10,000 won (US$9) and 30,000 won.
The online grocery market is expanding in Korea, with demand for delivery services rising among young people living alone and childless couples, the report said. Both demographic groups are growing in Korea.
Last year, 1.73m won worth of fruits, vegetables seafood and meat were bought online, according to Statistics Korea, a 20 per cent increase from 2015.
South Korean retailer Auction was the first to sell fresh food online in 2014, the report said. WeMakePrice was the next online retailer to enter the market in October last year. Ticket Monster jumped on the bandwagon in January with Tmon Fresh.
Meanwhile, Lotte.com’s Garak Store delivers vegetables and fruit purchased from daily wholesale auctions at Garak Market, a traditional Korean marketplace in Garak-dong, south eastern Seoul.
Ha Song, head of the direct buying team at WeMakePrice, told Joongang Daily: “We believe online shopping platforms have a chance in the groceries market if they can prove that they can provide products of freshness and quality equal to the level of discount chains.”
Some South Korean consumers are put off buying fresh fruit and vegetables online by concerns that produce could be damaged during transportation.
Another hurdle is the prevailing belief that fresh food ought to be bought in person and thoroughly examined.
This reticence means credibility has become an essential differentiating factor for competing e-commerce grocers, said the report.
On top of fast delivery, companies are making sure consumers know that their food teams are putting in extra effort to ensure product quality. WeMakePrice, for instance, advertises its more than 2,000m2 refrigeration facility in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, the report said.