Group Orders and Meal Splitting Continues to Rise
A 34-year-old salad restaurant owner Kim Ji-man has recently started buying grocery items together with his neighbors on Danggeun Market, the country's largest online flea market platform.
"When you buy a certain product in a large quantity, you can get them at a relatively cheaper price. You can also share the delivery fee with neighbors, so I use group purchasing from time to time," Kim said.
A 28-year-old graduate student Lee Hyun-joon often uses Danggeun Market to receive food deliveries with other people living in his town. By doing this, he can save between 50 percent and 75 percent of the delivery cost.
"There is a section on Danggeun Market where people make groups ― a maximum size of four ― to order late-night meals from the same restaurant. This way we can divide the delivery fee," Lee said. "This is useful because many food prices here have recently gone up due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and many food delivery services have hiked delivery fees ruinously.
As the cost of living rises in the country and the number of one-person households increases, more people are seeking to buy products together at reduced prices when shopping for daily necessities.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Danggeun Market provided a group chat service for local communities called, Let's Do It Together. It connected people living in the same town with the same interest so that they can meet offline to enjoy their hobbies together or share similar concerns. However, the service was temporarily suspended after the government put quarantine measures in place.
In February, when delivery costs rose from around 5,000 won ($3.8) to 6,000 won, people started to look for neighbors so that they could order food online together. The number of relevant posts increased by 45 percent in the first half of this year, compared to that in 2021, according to Danggeun Market.
The platform operator has re-opened the local community service to help people fight inflation. As a result, the accumulated number of Danggeun Market users increased to 30 million by May and the number of its monthly active users reached 18 million in the same period.
Recently. Danggeun market launched an upgraded local community service called "Buy Together," noticing the demand increase for group purchasing. It added a new promotion to the service giving discounts to those who visit a local restaurant together.
Participants can freely upload a post with specific information on what they want to buy, how much people will have to pay each and how they will make the payment. Once they collect the maximum number of four, people will discuss when and where they will make the purchase.
"We saw consistent posts uploaded on our platform looking for neighbors to buy large quantities of groceries or share delivery costs by ordering food together. To connect people more efficiently, we decided to introduce the Buy Together service," a Danggeun Market official said.
The Buy Together service is currently available in limited areas of Gwanak District and Gangdong District in Seoul and Hanam in Gyeonggi Province. They have the highest demand for group purchases and there are large discount stores in each.
"We recently decided to provide the Let's Do It Together service nationwide and we are planning to expand the Buy Together service in the country gradually too," the official said.
Danggeun Market also said it is banning restaurant owners or small business merchants from taking part in this service to prevent them from profiting.
Source: Kim Jae-heun, The Korea Times (July 2022)