About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea’s Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 recently launched an intranet-based online store, a senior official from the company said at a national IT exhibition in an interview published last week by the state-run outlet Dawn.
The shop’s head of commercial information Son Chun Sil said the department store has established a “comprehensive commerce system” through the website, adding the system was also able to manage the activity of industrial units as well as the online shop.
Through the new system, she said, the department store has become a place where people can find and purchase “very high-quality goods whose reliability is guaranteed.”
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 detailed its “comprehensive service system” at the 2018 national exhibition of IT success held at the Three-Revolution Exhibition House in October.
In the video, a wall banner described the store’s “electronic commerce system through the intranet,” whose mission is to provide “information services including product advertisement and order services” as well advertising goods on behalf of other enterprises.
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1’s website is composed of a guide to the shop, an online department store, and a forum for customer feedback, among other features.
The site enables customers to “assess the quality of services” through the forum and encourage different products to “compete” with each other.
It also reportedly “ensures flexibility” for entities selling their products and convenience for users hoping to shop.
The website’s homepage offers a guide to the department store (history, customer service), the online store, details about its restaurant, other services (children’s playground, arcade), online services (discussion platform, online pawn shop, online product recommendations), and an exhibition (product exhibition, outstanding products).
It is unclear how the “online pawnshop” functions, however.
The top navigation bar of the online store features a product guide, news, discounts, and popular items along with holiday and special products.
“We offer a 20 percent discount on entire goods on the occasion of New Year holidays,” the notice on the website reads.
Other services including “free delivery,” “period of guaranteeing products,” and “bulk purchases” are also promoted on the website.
The online department store also claims to offer a 24-hour “mobile outreach service.”
Products available on the website include groceries, clothing, kitchenware, cosmetics, electronics, furniture, and medicine.
Customers are able to search goods by price, color, and brand.
The website, photos suggest, has so far registered two members and had 347 visitors.
And though North Korea has in recent years diversified its e-commerce platforms, with Manmulsang being one of the best-known, this new venture appears to the first time an established department store has launched its own website.
Pyongyang’s Kwangmyong IT Company in May launched the Amazon-style online retailer Sili, featuring an electronic payment system and offering services including restaurant reservations.
“Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 is the face of our country and exhibit hall of light industry,” the website reads. “Items manufactured by the best units producing consumer goods and tens of thousands of industry light goods produced by dozens of joint ventures and trade units are displayed at the department.”
The shop was in April host to the 9th Pyongyang Department Store No.1 commodity exhibition, state-run DPRK Today reported, the first of its kind since June 2014.
Around 1900 consumer goods were on display, the outlet reported, adding the exhibition drew attention through its wide range of products.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: DPRK Today