According to German publication Lebensmittel Zeitung, Aldi is preparing to launch online in China.
First market to trade exclusively online
If and when Aldi launches in China, it will be the first time that the discounter has entered a market with an online-led strategy. It seems Aldi wants to do things differently as it enters the Asia market, and will use nearby Australia where it is established and growing, as a base for training employees.
Aldi to trade independently
While other retailers have teamed up with giant online platforms Alibaba or JD.com, it is thought that Aldi will launch online independently, having secure the domain www.aldi.cn some years ago. With this in mind, we can look to the UK website where Aldi sells wine and non-food Specialbuys as an example of what the offer in China might look like.
Will Aldi follow with stores?
It is unknown whether Aldi will follow its online launch with physical stores, however we suspect the discounter will test its ecommerce website for some time and analyse Chinese shopper trends before investing significant capital in to stores. In terms of range, it is thought Chinese shoppers will respond well to European products with many being well-travelled, however the majority of Aldi's products are private label. Aldi should establish and promote its brands as well as focusing on leading private label brands such as Mamia (baby) and Lacura (beauty) leading these.
Even though Aldi will attract shoppers with 'made in Europe' products, there is already competition from various grocery retailers such as Sainsbury's, Waitrose and M&S, all of which have an online presence in China through websites such as TMall.com and JD.com. Online will perhaps become more of a focus for M&S as it announces plans to close stores as profits fall.
Ecommerce in China
Compared to the pure play ecommerce model, the bricks & clicks model in China is less popular, even though most of the international retailers and leading local retailers have all launched and pushed their online presence. Chinese consumers are used to a wide selection of products, good prices with lots of promotions, and fast (sometimes also free) delivery from ecommerce platforms. Aldi, if launched independently, needs to well-establish its unique proposition, be savvy on digital marketing and ensure fast and reliable delivery.
Learn more about ecommerce in Asia by reading our latest report - Selling online in Asia: four emerging online grocery models