“Business at a 1-pyeong hot bar in the market… This is the first experience like this in 15 years” 

Kim Seon-ja, 57 years old, has been running a hot bar business in Incheon for 15 years. She has been doing business at Mansu Market in Namdong-gu, Incheon with a sign saying ‘Seohwa Sanghoe’ for 10 years. Before that, she sold hot bars at Sinpo International Market, which is about 10km away. Ms. Kim did not hide her pride as she handed the reporter a perilla leaf hot bar, saying, “The ingredients for each day are airlifted in the day before and sold, so they are fresh and chewy.”

Mr. Kim was originally a successful food ingredients distributor. However, he went bankrupt during the IMF and became a bad credit cardholder, then started a hot bar business and paid off all his debts three years ago. He said with a smile, “After going through a difficult time, I started living a ‘second life.’” Mr. Kim takes a break from business only one day a month, the second Saturday of every month. Except for that day, I worked standing up for 10 hours from 10 AM to 8 PM every day in a space of about 1 pyeong, but I did business happily every day with a bright and positive mind.

However, the situation changed drastically in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Traditional markets, which had relied only on offline face-to-face transactions, were hit hard. If your financial situation gets worse, start by reducing your snack consumption. Naturally, the sales of Seohwasanghoe also declined. Mr. Kim said, “As the number of young people in their 10s to 30s visiting the market decreased significantly, I thought, ‘I can’t survive like this.’” He added, “I decided to use KakaoTalk, which is used by all people regardless of age or region.” He submitted an application for a project called ‘Our Neighborhood’s Regular Market’, which is being conducted by Kakao, Kakao Impact, and online knowledge education platform MKYU (CEO Kim Mi-kyung) in collaboration with the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and the Small Business Promotion Corporation. They decided to open a KakaoTalk channel to make channel friends with market customers and inform them of market news. Through the talk channel, you can view the menu, business hours, discount events, and even have a one-on-one chat with the owner. The Kakao Mutual Growth Fund supports message transmission costs up to 300,000 won per store.

The response was beyond expectations. Currently, Mansu Market’s channel friends have exceeded 1,000, and Seohwa Sanghoe’s channel friends are also approaching 600. We held an event to hand out shopping carts and fans with KakaoTalk characters on them to channel friends, and the prizes ran out in one day. Mr. Kim said, “These days, I am experiencing the amazing power of online platforms.” “On a rainy day, I sent a message through the Talk channel saying, ‘We are having a Hot Bar 5+1 sale event for just 3 days,’ and customers came in despite the rain, so we used up all the ingredients that day.” The 15-year formula of hot bar business, that ‘a rainy day is a day to hit the ball’, has been broken. Not only this. There has also been an increase in the number of orders for hot bars to be sent by courier. To date, there have been more than 30 deliveries. Likewise, before It was something I could never have imagined.

The urgently needed ice pack was provided by Seung-gi Jeong, who runs a butcher shop (Yookyeong Meat Department Store) in Mansu Market. Mr. Jeong, who boasts 30 years of experience as a butcher, also opened a KakaoTalk channel through the Our Neighborhood Traditional Market project. He is operating it. He is disclosing information through KakaoTalk that market customers did not know in advance, such as product photos, prices, livestock product grade confirmation, and how to choose delicious pork. He has solved the problem of information imbalance between market merchants and customers. Mr. Jeong “We are increasing customer satisfaction by transparently disclosing prices and providing products of the highest quality,” he said. Ahead of Chuseok, he is also accepting pre-orders for Korean beef gift sets through KakaoTalk. Mr. Jeong can conveniently use a QR code in front of his store. A Kakao business card that allows you to register as a channel friend is also provided.

As the warm sunlight of digital comes to Mansu Market, the market is becoming more vibrant. This is a change that occurred after market merchants, who had relied solely on face-to-face transactions, learned how to communicate with customers through KakaoTalk. Merchants participating in the digital support project greet customers wearing aprons with Ryan characters on them. Mr. Kim said, “What makes me happier than the increase in sales is that the market is becoming more vibrant.” Additionally, Mr. Kim said, “What I liked best was that the digital tutors dispatched from MKYU visited each store and provided one-on-one training먹튀검증.” He said, “Most of the merchants are elderly and they are busy serving customers, so it is difficult to gather in one place and receive collective training.” This year, about 80 digital tutors were dispatched to 20 markets and provided training by visiting each market store for 6 weeks. It is said that he explained step by step everything from how to use a smartphone to taking product photos, how to use the Talk channel function, and how to send messages. A total of 900 merchants benefited. Kakao plans to provide digital education and talk channel subsidies targeting a total of 100 markets by the end of this year.

Ham Joo-ho, Chairman of Mansu Market Merchants’ Association, said, “Through this project, we realized that online communication with customers is important,” and added, “Traditional markets should no longer wait for offline customers to arrive.” He said, “There is hope and future for traditional markets if we continue to manage channels so that customers can find out various information about our stores online and increase the number of regulars.”






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