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11st spun off to become SK’s online retail unit

Sept 04,2018
11st, an online shopping mall, was spun off from SK Planet on Saturday. The 10-year-old e-commerce site, which has its own mobile app, vowed on Monday to become a comprehensive shopping portal.

“11st will evolve into an e-commerce gateway that provides information on the entire process of shopping as well as selling products,” said Lee Sang-ho, the new chief executive of the company, at a press conference on Monday. “We will incessantly improve our service through communication with customers and offer the best possible service to both sellers and customers through technological innovation.”

A former head of a service platform focused on artificial intelligence at SK Telecom, the mother company of SK Planet, Lee is a renowned voice recognition and search expert. He will now spearhead a new commerce business at the dawn of the fourth industrial evolution in Korea, said the company.

Having attracted fresh funding of 500 billion won ($450 million) in June from outside investors that include H&Q Korea, a private equity fund, 11st is poised to apply big data and artificial intelligence technologies to the entire process of online shopping - product searches, payments, delivery, returns and refunds. The company will also be responsible for leading the e-commerce business for technology-related subsidiaries of SK, the umbrella business group, such as SK Telecom, SK Broadband and SK Planet, and creating synergy.

As people increasingly prefer shopping over the internet, Korean retailers have been assigning big chunks of their budgets on technologies that will bring innovation to shopping online or joining forces with tech companies. Shinsegae, the second-largest retailer in Korea, has merged the online divisions of its department stores and Emart discount chains to develop its e-commerce further and set a goal of achieving 10 trillion won in revenue from online shopping by 2023, five times the current figure of 2 trillion won. For this, Shinsegae raised over 1 trillion won from capital management firms. Hyundai Department Store recently announced it would team up with Amazon to launch next-generation brick-and-mortar stores in Yeouido, western Seoul, by 2022.

Lotte, Korea’s largest retailer, established an e-commerce business unit after combining all online shopping sites run by different subsidiaries in May and vowed to invest 3 trillion won in it. By 2022, it aims to post 20 trillion won in online revenues by 2022.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]