Two kinds of baskets at the entrance.
This is a rather uncommon scene for an ordinary cosmetics store.
But the separate baskets serve a purpose.
By choosing the "I'll shop alone" basket, customers can send a sign to employees that they want to be left alone to shop comfortably without interference.
"We came up with the idea to help customers browse our products freely. When they hold the basket, we understand that they want to be left alone, so there's no discomfort on either side."
This is part of a growing marketing trend in Korea called "untact" marketing.
Combining the prefix "un" with "contact", the term implies the refusal of person-to-person interaction.
For distributors, that means selling products and services without confronting customers.
This form of marketing reflects the increasingly individualistic nature of society, where people are finding it more difficult to trust others and prefer to be left alone.
"People feel the need to maintain their privacy, and are increasingly becoming cautious of confronting others, leading to an even more disconnected society."
And especially in Korea where shop workers are usually friendly and engaging-- sometimes overly attentive-- customers can experience stress while shopping.
With the aim of reducing such discomfort to boost customer satisfaction and sales…more and more brands are adopting 'untact' marketing.
This popular cosmetics chain is also gaining interest for its own unique 'untact' service.
One innovation is the smart table.
Just by placing products on the screen, customers can get detailed information so that they can decide for themselves whether or not to make a purchase.
What shop employees used to do in the past, untact technology has replaced.
"It's always been uncomfortable shopping at shops or department stores because of the employees. Untact technology is preferable for a shy person like myself.”
“Before untact technology, customers had to speak to employees to get information on certain products or get advice on what kind of make-up best suits them. But now,they can simply use this smart table or this smart mirror that only requires their faces and a few swipes.”
Customers often like to try on make-up before purchasing cosmetics.
But through facial recognition, the smart mirror allows them to see for themselves whether or not certain colors and styles look good on them.
It saves time and effort while also helping them make accurate decisions.
In another store, untact marketing takes a different form.
"If you place the product card on the scanner, you can read detailed descriptions on the product and the reviews that other customers wrote."
Through a RFID barcode, customers are directed to the company's mobile application, where they can check out products, make purchases, and even have them delivered to their homes.
The store is definitely not short-staffed. The difference here is that staff members don't approach customers, unless they are asked for help, of course.
"We believed that our customers are more comfortable relying on the Internet for information rather than relying on our employees, which is why we created this untact service-based store. And to offer greater convenience for our customers, we plan to upgrade the technology to enhance the quality of our service."
And this trend is likely to become even more popular in 2018, especially if there are more features available for customers.
"In the past, getting explanations from actual people was preferable. But now, it's easier to access information about products by browsing the Internet, and it's easier to trust unmanned devices over people. There's a high possibility that this kind of untact technology will be adopted on a larger scale."
"If customers are offered a wider range of experiences, untact services can be distinguished from pre-existing services. Companies need to shift away from focusing only on simple tasks such as placing orders."
At present, untact technology appears to be more of a fun thing to try out, rather than a general consumption trend.
But in the coming years, as society becomes more individualistic and disconnected, there's only room for expansion in this field.
The supermarkets and department stores of today may look completely different in the near future.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.