How Tesco's Homeplus is captivating consumers in South Korea

Low Lai Chow

As one of the most advanced digital markets in the world, South Korea is a potential bellwether of what is coming next for retailers – and it seems they will need to supplement their bricks-and-mortar expertise with three other main forms of delivery: bricks and delivery, click and collect, and click and delivery.

That was the view Lee Seung-han, chairman of Tesco Homeplus, advanced at the World Retail Congress Asia Pacific 2014. As the chain he runs serves over six million customers a week in South Korea, and boasts annual sales of $10.6 billion, it is well placed to understand major shifts in the market.

"Customers are always searching and checking the price benefits offline and online. For the next step, customers will decide how to pay and how to move goods," Lee predicted.

In an attempt to better understand how the behavior of young consumers, in particular, is changing, Homeplus undertook a detailed research exercise in December 2013. "We conducted this focus-group interview with young students, and learned that they are very active in multichannel shopping, especially for clothing, footwear and books," Lee said.