South Korea’s Lotte to shut down online marketplace in Vietnam

South Korean conglomerate Lotte is shutting down Lotte.vn, its Vietnam-focused online marketplace connecting merchants with buyers, citing a change in its retail strategy.

The marketplace will be shut down 20 February 2020 and merged with SpeedL.vn, an e-commerce website that retails products sold at Lotte’s physical supermarket stores in the Southeast Asian country, the company said in a notice to merchants this week.

Lotte attributed the move to a shift in its model to ‘new retail,’ a term coined and popularised by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba that refers to the blurring boundaries between online and offline retail.

Lotte’s announcement comes roughly a week after Vietnamese behemoth Vingroup announced its plans to shut down its e-commerce website Adayroi.com and merge it with its fintech arm VinID. The website, which was closed on December 20, now greets visitors with a notice on its demise that explains the move as part of Vingroup’s shift to the new retail model.

Lotte’s Vietnamese e-commerce unit started operations in 2016, when the Korean giant said it would allocate as much as $25 million for the business with a target to gain a 20 per cent market share within three years.

However, it only ranked 23rd in terms of web traffic at the end of September 2019, far behind rivals such as Alibaba-backed Lazada, Sea Ltd’s arm Shopee, and local e-commerce startups Tiki and Sendo, according to a report by online shopping aggregator iPrice.

Vingroup’s Adayroi fared no better. Launched in 2014, it reportedly drew investments worth tens of millions of dollars from its parent company but never managed to break into the top seven e-commerce websites in the local market.

In March this year, Thailand’s Central Group closed its Robins Vietnam online fashion store to concentrate on its physical stores. In 2018, Vietnam’s largest electronics retailer MobileWorld Group had pulled the plug on Vuivui.com after two years of operations.

Other Vietnamese online shopping platforms to close include Beyeu, Deca, Lingo, Hotdeal and Muachung, among others.

Vietnam’s e-commerce market is estimated to touch $4.6 billion in gross merchandise value this year and projected to reach $23 billion by 2025, according to the e-Conomy SEA 2019 report by Google, Temasek and Bain.

Homegrown startups Sendo and Tiki, which have both closed multi-million dollar funding rounds, have been taking turns to be the country’s second and third-largest e-commerce websites, after market leader Shopee. Coming in at number four, Lazada is expected to up its game soon after securing an e-payment licence in Vietnam.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.