For decades, Lidl and Aldi have been dominant players in the German supermarket business, thanks to low prices, in-house brands and frugal presentation. No fuss, no nonsense… and no online business. Last year, it even seemed like Lidl was giving up the internet altogether. The discounter pulled the plug on online food ordering before the service even launched. Then its e-commerce boss abruptly left the company.
Although both Lidl and Aldi are now making online forays in Germany, they are taking far more risks and doing a better job of keeping up with their rapidly changing markets abroad. The foreign experience may not help them at home and they are in danger of losing customers clamoring to shop and receive their groceries at home.
Still, Lidl is making a concerted effort to change, increasing its non-food sales on the internet. “We grew 50 percent last year and want to continue doing that,” says Thorsten Reichle, its new digital boss. The aim is online revenues over €1 billion ($1.2 billion) this year. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to overall group sales of €68 billion.