By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's retail giants are increasingly turning their eyes to the luxury segment for their e-commerce business in an apparent move to differentiate themselves from online competitors.
Lotte Shopping Co., the operator of South Korea's biggest department store and a leading discount store, opened its first online shopping mall that only sells luxury brands on Thursday.
The website, dubbed Lotte Premium Mall, sells over 24,000 products from 234 high-end brands ranging from Escada to Etro on its platform, according to the company.
The platform is Lotte's latest push to strengthen its online business as other retailers mostly offer cheaper products, such as daily necessities.
"Most online shopping malls are focus on cheaper products," Chung Hyung-sik, a Lotte official, said. "We plan to expand online premium business through launching the platform."
Despite the steep growth of the luxury market, online malls have traditionally been considered not suitable for the sector as it is arguably more difficult to prove the brand's authenticity online.
Customers can try out the products at brick-and-mortar Lotte Department Store after making reservations before purchasing the products online, Lotte Shopping said.
Lotte said it plans to expand the number of brands to 360 by the end of this year and will also showcase seasonal products from both domestic and foreign contemporary brands.
Shinsegae Group, the country's leading retailer, joined the move by launching its own website, SSG.COM, to stay ahead of retail rivals by showcasing millions of products ranging from premium brands to its private-label brand products.
In an effort to focus on the luxury segment, the company also opened its luxury shopping platform S.I. VILLAGE in 2016 to provide customers with an equally luxurious feel as in the company's offline Shinsegae Department Store.
The company recently upgraded its application and added high-end brands, such as HERNO and Proenza Schouler, that are exclusively imported by Shinsegae.
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