Mr. Choi Kwang Ho, General Director of Emart Vietnam, spoke with VET's Hoang Thu about its first hypermarket in the country and its efforts to win over Vietnamese customers.
■ Emart announced plans in March to open its first hypermarket in Vietnam by the end of the year. How have preparations been going?
Emart is quickly preparing to open its first hypermarket in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap district, in mid-December this year.
■ Why did you decide to enter Vietnam’s retail market at this point of time, as many foreign retailers are already present in the country?
Vietnam’s retail market has great potential, with a high and young population. Modern retail trade accounts for 20 per cent of the total and is equal to one-quarter of traditional retail trade such as wet markets and grocery stores, in urban and rural areas.
The market is heating up and competition is increasingly fierce. This competition, however, will encourage the market’s development. Emart therefore want to test its strength by bringing the best products, the highest quality, and a new shopping experience to Vietnamese customers.
In order to do so Emart bases its efforts on its existing advantages. In South Korea, Emart’s parent group Shinsegae is the oldest retailer, having started out in 1930. Emart is also South Korea’s first and now leading hypermarket, with more than 23 years of remarkable growth.
With its experience in South Korea’s retail market, Emart targets bringing a new shopping experience to Vietnamese consumers, with various categories of goods that will be scientifically and conveniently displayed. We also put customer care services at the center of our business plans. We look forward to successfully building a hypermarket image in the minds of Vietnamese customers, as our slogan is offering high quality goods at competitive prices.
At Emart in Vietnam we have gathered together Vietnamese staff who are experienced in and knowledgeable about the domestic retail market. We believe that these Vietnamese staff working with Korean staff that have experience in the international retail business will help Emart gain a solid position in Vietnam’s retail market.
■ What are your thoughts on the potential of Vietnam’s retail market compared with other markets in Southeast Asia?
According to recent market research, Thailand has a population of 67 million but its modern retail trade accounts for 44 per cent. In Indonesia, where the population is 247 million, modern retail trade accounts for 51 per cent.
Meanwhile, in Vietnam, which has a population of nearly 93 million, modern retail trade accounts for only for 20 per cent, making it a market of potential for retailers in general and for the development of modern retail trade in particular.
Vietnam also has a young population earning higher average incomes. These will be the targeted customers of modern retail trade as they tend to be moving towards modern retail centers because of their convenience.
■ Many Vietnamese consumers are in the habit of shopping at wet markets and grocery stores. What are your plans to overcome this challenge?
Vietnamese have shopped at grocery stores and wet markets for generations. These traditional retail channels also have many shortcomings, however, such as food safety and hygiene, a cluttered display of goods, uncontrolled prices, and low quality customer services, among others.
Emart not only sells various categories of goods, especially cosmetics and clothes, to meet the diversified demands of consumers, but also has other facilities, including a food court, a children's play area, pharmacies, and banks, etc., to offer a one-stop shopping center to customers.
Our hypermarkets also have specific areas for brands such as Samsung, Starbucks, and Apple, and a large car park. We do our best to create a friendly shopping environment that is close to Vietnamese culture.
As I mentioned, Emart targets delivering superior value to its customers in Vietnam by offering high quality goods at competitive prices. It is also committed to contributing to price stability, job creation, social activities, and the accompanied growth of partners with the best services.