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SK C&C works on blueprint for smart marketplace using AI and blockchain

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 30, 2020, 17:20 Updated : June 30, 2020, 17:20

[Courtesy of Seoul Agro-Fisheries & Food Corporation ]

SEOUL -- SK C&C, the information technology wing of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, has embarked on the creation of a blueprint for a smart marketplace that uses new technologies to precisely track, manage products and reduce distribution costs.

Just like smart farms or smart factories that utilize artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain and cloud technologies to automate processes and reduce time and costs, smart marketplace technology can turn a crammed old marketplace occupied by small stores and winding alleys into a clean place where products are managed by smart robots and distribution is transparently managed with virtual ledger technology.

SK C&C said in a statement on Tuesday that the company has started the digital transformation of the mega-sized Garak Market in southern Seoul. The company will modernize work by drawing a blueprint by January next year.

Garak Market, the largest marketplace in Seoul that houses wholesale and retail stores for fish and farm products, was built by Seoul Agro-Fisheries & Food Corp. (aT), a fish and farm product distributing body, in 1985. While the market is used by many food business owners and Seoulites, it is also notorious for lack of hygiene facilities, complicated roads and the heavy traffic of small-sized cargo carriers, trailer trucks and other vehicles.

Young consumers do not favor Garak Market because its product pricing standards are not transparent. They prefer visiting mega-stores run by retail giants such as Shinsegae and Lotte, while people aged over 50 visit local marketplaces to buy cheap products. South Korea has some 1,450 marketplaces.

"We aim to draw a blueprint for a flexible wholesale market that can adapt to future distribution environments through innovative digital transformation that will change conventional services," aT CEO Kim Kyung-ho was quoted as saying.

SK C&C will adopt blockchain technology to clearly manage the distribution of products while maintaining freshness by controlling temperature and humidity in real time. Blockchain and big data will be used to stabilize the price of products. Blockchain requires no central server and all transactions are recorded in virtual ledgers of encrypted data.

Automated guided robots and electric forklifts will roam the roads inside the transformed marketplace to carry cargo. Autonomous robots hooked onto internet of things networks will be used for garbage collection, surveillance and the maintenance of sewage lines and electricity.

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