By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, April 28 (Yonhap) -- Lotte Shopping Co. -- the operator of South Korea's biggest department store and hypermarket chains -- on Tuesday launched an ambitious online shopping website to better compete with major e-commerce operators, such as Coupang.
Lotte ON integrates the websites of Lotte's eight affiliates, including Lotte Department Store, the electronics unit Himart, Lotte Home Shopping and Lotte Duty Free, officials said.
In an ambitious move, Lotte Shopping earlier announced a blueprint that focuses on eventually changing the retail giant into a service provider.
The website will offer omnichannel services to customers based on the data of over 39 million customers, which account for 76 percent of South Korea's population of 51 million.
"There is no e-commerce operator in the country that integrates customer data of both online and offline channels," said Cho Young-jae, a Lotte Shopping official in charge of the e-commerce business.
Lotte Shopping said it will analyze customer data based on its artificial intelligence technology to recommend items depending on their needs.
It will eventually "reset" all of its brick-and-mortar shops that cross business boundaries for full-fledged synergy, according to Lotte.
The plan comes as Lotte Shopping joined a list of traditional retailers that have announced a slew of drastic and painful restructuring measures after delivering poor earnings last year in the face of harsh competition with e-commerce players.
Lotte Shopping said its net losses widened to 853.5 billion won (US$728.5 million) in 2019 from 464.9 billion won a year earlier.
Operating profit fell 28 percent to 427.9 billion won from 597 billion won during the same period, while sales fell 1.1 percent to 17.6 trillion won from 17.8 trillion won.
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