CAPTION : Kim Hye-ryun ('84, Business) is the founder of the first online shopping mall.
According to Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI), online shopping mall sales will be about 19 trillion won in 2010, with an annual average growth rate of 15.3 percent. As seen from advertisements for online shopping malls on portal sites, blogs and in magazines, new shopping sites appear online all the time. At the same time, online shopping malls disappear because competition is so keen. There is a little room for long-lasting success.
Kim Hye-ryun (’84, Business Administration) established Web-net Korea, Inc., now Adigm, Inc., and opened the first online shopping mall, called Fashion Plus (http://www.fashionplus.co.kr/), in September 1999. Fashion Plus has ranked at the top of online shopping malls ever since. In 1999, the Internet was not as dominant as now, but Kim started an online shopping mall anyway. Starting with only 20 employees, sales at Fashion Plus in the first month were 8 million won. Fashion Plus has consistently grown by 200 percent annually, now offering over 500 brands and earning more than 4 billion won per month.
After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in the U.S, Kim launched a luxury clothing brand for women, called Adrianne. It was a great success before the economic crisis in 1997. Because of the crisis, all fashion industries, including major department stores, went into an economic slump. Kim cleared all her shops except for two, which were the most prosperous.
“At that time, three close friends of mine who majored in studies related to the Internet were already experts about the Internet, even though it was at the early stage of development. I naturally wanted to talk with my friends to understand it clearly. So I studied and even obtained the Internet Information Manager Certificate,” said Kim.
Kim started by acquiring knowledge, but afterward, she realized the strong potential of the online fashion industry. Kim decided to sell leftover clothes in stock through an online shopping mall.
Since it was not common for people to buy clothes without trying them on, Kim tried to attract consumers using reliable brands.
“Some managers of fashion companies said that it is crazy to sell clothes on the Internet. However, after visiting several times, I finally persuaded about 20 companies and started Fashion Plus. Since there was no precedent to learn from, it was difficult to create our own infrastructure, like stable, price calculation and distribution systems,” said Kim.
Kim said the most important factors that make Fashion Plus a different from other online shopping malls are a one-stop shopping environment and efficient systems. Through one-stop shopping, customers not only have access to famous brands, but also to information about fashion trend. Menus on the Web site, such as Style Plus and Cordi Plus, give consumers tips about how to match items and what is in fashion. Moreover, Fashion Plus operates its own distribution center to safely deliver the goods. A 5 percent Compensation System is also offered when delivery is delayed for any reason.
Not resting on her laurels, Kim always tries harder to be the best fashion company on the Internet. She expects the scale of Internet shopping to jump over that of the department stores in the near future. Kim says she will maintain Fashion Plus’ first concept, an online fashion department store, and develop her company as the online market gets bigger.