Gorillas, Flink, Getir: The selection of food delivery services in Germany is growing. Customers can also order groceries online from Rewe, Edeka and other supermarkets. And the discounters? Despite the trend towards home shopping, Aldi and Lidl prefer to wait and see. An analysis by Anna Schmid.
If you need pasta, vegetables or a new deodorant, you no longer have to go to the supermarket or discounter. Groceries and everyday products can be ordered directly to your home via online delivery services such as Gorillas or Flink. Very easy, very fast.
Supermarkets such as Rewe or Kaufland have long recognized the potential of online food retail. Customers can use their own platforms to order products from the Rewe shelves straight to their home, similar to Gorillas, Flink and other services.
Discounters like Aldi or Lidl, on the other hand, are lagging behind. Neither of the two groups has a comparable food delivery service. Aldi and Lidl have now opened online shops. There customers can only buy things like garden and household accessories, the delivery times are usually several days.
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Do Aldi, Lidl and Co. now have to introduce delivery services?
Some observers are therefore rightly asking the question: Do discounters have to invest more in online food retail? As early as September 2021, the “Handelsblatt” called on Aldi and Lidl to take the new, digital delivery services as a model. So far, we are hardly prepared for the future.
But, is this really the truth? Do Aldi, Lidl and other discounters now have to introduce delivery services in order to remain competitive? Christian Böttcher from the Federal Association of the German Food Trade (BVLH) thinks: not necessarily. “The construction and operation of delivery services initially costs money,” he says in an interview with CHIP. “Even delivery services that have been established for years earn little or no money with this offer.”
He also notes the high density of grocery stores that prevails in Germany. In other words, if you want to do your weekly shopping, you don’t necessarily have to drive 15 kilometers. Many consumers have the nearest supermarket or discounter right in front of their door. “On average, four grocery stores can be reached in about three minutes by car in Germany,” says Böttcher.
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According to the expert, it is also important for the majority of consumers to “buy food locally and, especially with fresh products, to be able to inspect the quality for themselves before buying”. More important than having fruit, meat and baked goods conveniently delivered to your home. “These shopping habits also play an important role for discount companies when it comes to investing in delivery services,” says Böttcher.
That may be true. However, the growing popularity of online grocery shopping cannot be dismissed out of hand. A representative survey commissioned by the digital association Bitkom in 2021 shows: 32 percent of the 16 to 29-year-olds surveyed ordered food, snacks or drinks online frequently or at least occasionally in the past year. Among the 30 to 49 year olds it was even 36 percent.
Aldi, Lidl and other retailers do not offer this option to consumers. So it’s quite possible that some customers would rather do their shopping online at Rewe than go to the nearest discounter. Especially since many food delivery services are also available outside the opening hours of normal supermarkets and discounters.
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Böttcher: Established grocers are watching the delivery service market
Aldi, Lidl and Co. probably don’t completely ignore this fact. BVLH spokesman Böttcher assumes that all established food retailers in Germany are watching the delivery service market. “The discounters are also looking at the development so that they can act quickly if necessary,” he says.
In any case, Aldi has already experimented with food delivery services abroad. As the “Lebensmittelzeitung” reports, the discounter tested the concept in Spain and Portugal in 2021. The hope that the group would also take this step in Germany was bitterly disappointed.
How things will continue with Aldi, Lidl and other discounters is difficult to predict. However, Böttcher believes that “quality, sustainability, selection and service will remain important purchasing criteria in the future”. Discounters are primarily known “for their value for money”. In times of rising food prices, this image could benefit them, says the association spokesman.