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Coupang’s new growth engine: early-morning deliveries

In the midst of hectic work one afternoon, Kim Su-rin, a mother of two toddlers suddenly remembered their request for breakfast next day -- toast and strawberries.

She realized it would not be possible to stop over at a bakery as she had to pick up her children from the kindergarten immediately after work. But before a sense of panic set in, she remembered that she could just place an order online.

Although there are a number of fresh food delivery services out there, Kim was particularly ecstatic to learn that her go-to shopping channel Coupang has recently started delivering fresh food overnight, to arrive well before she prepared food for her children in the morning.

“I am sure the other services are also up-to-par, but there is this sense of reliability of being able to order from a place that I buy almost every daily necessities from, someplace that I already rely on,” Kim said.

A Coupang worker poses for a photo with boxes for early-morning deliveries. Coupang
A Coupang worker poses for a photo with boxes for early-morning deliveries. Coupang

The “Rocket Fresh” service has been seeing significant growth recently, with daily deliveries reaching a record 87,000 boxes this month, according to the company.

While Coupang has other competitors in the overnight fresh food delivery sector, it is confident that it has an upper hand based on its extensive scale of investments, loyal customer base, reputation of reliable deliveries and a wider range of food choices.

Coupang’s early morning deliveries currently cover up to 2,600 kinds of food, including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, milk and ice cream.

The early-morning delivery service allows consumers to receive fresh food for breakfast. If the order is made before midnight, they can receive the food items by 7 a.m.

“With its strong delivery infrastructure and loyal customers, Coupang has emerged as a dominant player in the early-morning delivery market,” said an industry watcher.

The e-commerce giant has expanded its delivery areas since launching the service in October last year in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan region.

Starting January, the service is now also available in other major cities here, including Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, Ulsan, Cheonan, Gimhae and Sejong.

The company expects membership of its Rocket Wow Club, which enables free delivery for all Rocket Fresh orders, to rise further. As of February, there were 1.6 million Rocket Wow Club members.

Market watchers cite Coupang’s signature “patience” when it comes to seeing the outcome of its long-term investments. For the past five years, it has been investing heavily in innovative business models, sturdy capital and logistics infrastructure, propped up by IT technologies.

Recently, it was in the spotlight after clinching a second round of investment worth $2 billion from SoftBank’s Vision Fund in November last year.

According to a survey by local market researcher Open Survey, Coupang was selected as the most popular company for grocery deliveries. About 18 percent of the respondents chose it as the best firm in terms of preference, satisfaction and shopping frequency. 


Korea Herald daum