Kim Jeong-hoon (28), an office worker who moved from Gwangju City to Hampyeong County in South Jeolla Province in July this year along with his new job, expressed the inconvenience of being unable to utilize dawn delivery, surpassing his expectations. Due to early morning commutes and returning home after 8 or 9 p.m., he has no time to shop separately. Ordering groceries online is necessary, but the freshness diminishes if delivered during the day. Dawn delivery, providing meat and vegetables in the early morning, has become essential. However, living in an area without dawn delivery, he stopped cooking, eventually relying on dining out or instant products. "My health suffered, and ultimately, my dining-out expenses increased,” he complained.
One out of two cities and counties across South Korea has no access to the early morning delivery service from the major providers - Coupang, SSG.com (Emart), Market Kurly, and Oasis. Some experts are pointing out that the acceleration of the trend where the service symbolic of e-commerce innovation is concentrated towards the metropolitan areas is fueling the “delivery divide,” leading to a gap in quality of life.
On Tuesday, a survey by The Dong-A Ilbo investigated 250 city and county districts nationwide, and the results revealed that 124 locations (49.6%) had no companies offering dawn delivery from the four major delivery service providers. The analysis was based on the addresses of local government administrative offices such as city halls and district offices. On the other hand, areas where all four dawn delivery services were available were concentrated in the Seoul capital areas at 53 locations, making up only 21.2% of the total.
Dawn delivery, a service where fresh food is ordered the night before and delivered to one's doorstep the next morning, gained traction in 2020 during the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As online shopping proliferated, the availability of dawn delivery became a crucial indicator of daily life for consumers. According to a survey by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 84% of consumers in areas without dawn delivery expressed a desire for such services.
However, the expansion of dawn delivery is sluggish. Large logistics centers need to be built in major hubs to enable dawn delivery. Still, investments in logistics networks by companies such as Coupang, Market Kurly, and Oasis are slowing down due to economic downturns. Supermarkets with nationwide distribution networks are hindered by regulations stating they cannot deliver outside operating hours, creating an uneven playing field.
Jeong Yeon-seung, a professor of business administration at Dankook University, commented, "Unlike online companies like Coupang, offline businesses face constraints in their operations, leading to unfair competition," emphasizing the need to consider ways to improve the welfare of local consumers in small and medium-sized cities where supermarkets already have delivery networks.