3 Online Stores that I Use to Buy Groceries in Korea

When was the last time I went out to do some grocery shopping…? Probably more than a year ago. And this is not because I am eating out all the time or I am being quarantined to my house because of the COVID-19 pandemic (I was never quarantined in Korea).

Online grocery shopping is so convenient in Korea that I do not have to go out to get food! No need to carry heavy bags of groceries on foot! No need to stop by the grocery store after work! Here are some quick facts about the apps that I use on my smartphone to order my weekly groceries. (*Information based on July 2020.)

Emart (이마트) 

  • Registration: Easy to register for expats living in Korea but need to know some Korean words or use the translator
  • Products: Some foreign products available; cheaper to buy Emart brands
  • Delivery: Can specify the delivery time within the next week with 쓱배송 (earliest next day, or the day of if ordered early in the morning)  
  • Shipping: Minimum purchase for free shipping- 40,000 KRW
  • Membership: Free 

Coupang Rocket Fresh (쿠팡 로켓 프레시)
and Coupang Global(쿠팡 로켓 직구)

  • Registration: Easy to register for expats living in Korea but need to know some Korean words or use the translator
  • Products: Items sold in bigger bulks (need to make sure to look at the weight to not order too much) 
  • Delivery: Next day morning delivery if ordered before midnight
  • Shipping: Minimum purchase of 15,000 KRW
  • Membership: Monthly fee of 4,000 KRW (The free membership does not have as many groceries and can take 1 to 3 days to deliver.)
  • Coupang Global has many foreign products that are normally unavailable in Korean supermarkets. (Minimum purchase of 29,800 KRW for free shipping.)

Jayeon Dream (자연드림)

  • Registration: Difficult to register for expats (need a high level of Korean; registration by phone call or a direct visit to the physical store)
  • Products: Organic products, limited options, expensive fruits
  • Delivery: Delivery on 2 to 3 specified days of the week (depends on the area) and needs to be reserved at least 3 days in advance
  • Shipping: Minimum purchase of 20,000 KRW (Subtracted from monthly payments.) *My husband and I pay 100,000 KRW per month.
  • Membership: Monthly fee of 10,000 KRW (Initial registration fee: 50,000 KRW) *also depends on the region that you live in

How I Usually Use These 3 Online Stores

I first pick out some vegetables, a fruit, tofu, and frozen food from Jayeon Dream. My favorite purchases from here are the eggs, natto (fermented soy beans), and the frozen chicken soup. Fruits tend to be more expensive at this store, so I try to stick with one type of fruit. For example, I would choose to buy grapes from here because I would like to consume less or no pesticides from the grape skin.

When I order from Jayeon Dream on Saturday morning, I can usually reserve a Monday delivery, but when I order later during the day, the next option becomes a Wednesday. I have to plan ahead and order for the next week but this effort is worth the trouble since I want to try to consume more organically grown food.

If there’s a food that is too expensive or unavailable on Jayeon Dream, I go to the online Emart Mall. My favorite purchases are avocados, spicy cod roes, French butter and American Colby-jack cheese (I prefer non-Korean dairy products). I always try to aim to get a little over 40,000 KRW to get the free shipping, and if I do not have enough items to buy, I get some extra tuna cans or instant noodles that can last longer.

The great thing about Emart Mall is that you can also specify the delivery time if you choose all your items from the 쓱배송 (quick delivery) menu. You can choose a day and time slot that is most convenient for you, or you can just choose a date without the time slot to get some bonus credits. If I order easily perishable products, then I try to specify a time slot when I am home.

Even if I plan my grocery shopping ahead of time, sometimes I will forget to order milk, crave more fruits, or run out of yogurt. That is when I use Coupang Rocket Fresh. If the items are ordered earlier in the evening, they can be delivered at dawn before you wake up! They do sell items in bigger bulks, so I have to carefully read the descriptions, but sometimes they also sell fruits for a cheaper price than other online stores. My favorite purchases from here are the Korean golden apples and frozen Japanese udon noodles.

Photo by Youjeen Cho on Unsplash

Whenever I start to miss American food and snacks, I use Coupang Rocket Global. There are many products available here that are not available at any other Korean supermarket. (Some may be available at Costco.) It takes around 3 days for it to get delivered, but it is definitely worth the wait and money especially because we cannot freely travel abroad these days. My favorite purchases from here are Kettle Chips, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, pie crust, and pumpkin pie mix.

What is grocery shopping like in your country? Are there more online delivery services after the COVID-19 pandemic?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s