Grocery Shopping in Korea

A few days ago I cam across an article regarding the percentage of grocery shopping spent online. The article included the chart below.

Statista Infographic: Where the Most Groceries Are Bought Online

My thought and experience are actually different. Our household with four persons buys the majority of groceries online. Emart a local grocery retailer, offers same day or next day delivery. You will need to find a delivery slot from the Emart in your area, usually starting form the early morning until the late evening. If you buy at least two times per month Emart will give you free delivery coupons. So we order all the heavy stuff there including the mineral water. Usually you can order all item from the dedicated phone app, but the web interface is still a little bit more convenient.

For vegetables, fruits and meat we use the organic grocery stores located near our home. Again there are several organic chain stores in Korea, the one we use are Dure (두레생협연합), Hansalim (한살림), and Chorocmael (초록마을), in that order. Even though all three shops have a website were you can place orders, we usually just call the local shop and tell them what we want and they delivery for free on the same day. Since you have to register yourself with all of the shops, they know address. In Dure you pay a small membership fee, that is refundable, when the membership is terminated. They use the accumulated membership fees as security for the delivery, so you can pay later when you pro by their shop. So this are technically not online order, but we still don’t carry stuff home from the mart, and order stuff just using the phone.

I think these things are so popular in Korea, since the people tend to be occupied with their work until the late evening. So it is convenient to manage your shopping on the commute. One thing that cannot be order online is alcohol. Thus if you are looking for a bottle of wine online you will be sad.

As the article mentioned, the internet speed in Korea is fast. However that does not translate into a good shopping experience. Often Korean websites are build on old dark age frameworks optimized for Internet Explorer using Active X plugins to display or secure content. Pages generally lack usability, they are colorful, display annoying popups, and generally load huge amount of data and images. Thus internet is fast, but it doesn’t feel fast.