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Discounters Go Digital: Aldi and Lidl Move into E-Commerce

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Coresight Research

Key Points

Hard discounters Aldi and Lidl are moving into e-commerce in both the grocery and nongrocery categories. This year, Aldi announced it will move into the Chinese market purely through e-commerce, while Lidl Germany is planning to trial a grocery click-and-collect service in Berlin.

These are our key takeaways on balancing no-frills discount with the added costs of e-commerce:

  • If discounters are willing to invest to build scale in grocery e-commerce, using “dark stores” dedicated to picking online orders seems to be a better option than picking from regular stores, due to the small size of the discounters’ stores.
  • New delivery options are lowering the costs of home delivery: using “Uberized” third-party couriers would be a more cost-effective, low-investment and scalable model than using temperature controlled, company-owned delivery trucks. This model is already being used by AmazonFresh in the UK.
  • We believe one significant challenge will be the deleveraging effect of smaller average basket sizes online: the highly limited choice offered by Aldi and Lidl will almost certainly yield lower online order values than at nondiscount rivals. This would make the economics of online retail even more detrimental for discounters than they are for their nondiscount peers.
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