"The discounters are coming, as the big 4 struggle to maintain market position discounters are marching in and from the other side software is eating away at traditional big box retailers' footprint", Retail Week, 2015.
The discounters are coming was the battle cry; naturally Britain's superior grocery stores have responded and steadied the ship but discounters continue to expand their footprint and merchants such as Aldi continue to rapidly open express store locations.
However, that growth is beginning to plateau and may be in part that because of Britain's 10 largest discounters, only 2 of them have an omni-channel fulfilment offering in operation.
Lidl, B&M, Heron Foods, Poundstretcher, Boyes, Farmfoods and Poundland are all currently without any form of eCommerce solution in place, purely a store finder. Admittedly, a couple of them have eCommerce product layouts and may be examining current store traffic and navigation trails to decipher whether they invest or not but this is still a worrisome exposé of their apathy toward customer demands no matter the product value or category.
You need to be ready
At Aulter, we've found this a little disturbing and especially given a few of these retailers have in excess of 500 stores nationwide and a few distribution centres - Basically, they are well equipped to handle the logistics of such an operation and have the arsenal to support click + collect or regional dropshipping capabilities working harmoniously with their in-store ePOS and ERPs.
"If automobile merchants such as Kwik-Fit and Halfords can bolster their omni-channel strategies across contrasting verticals, so can discounters and convenience malls", Jamie Anderson - Aulter founder for Shoptalk 2017.
What's stopping them? It might be a concern that commodity, low value retail just won't turn a profit in the eCommerce domain - especially with Amazon fulfilment lurking to capture your data and stock your best sellers internally.
Yet, this is not a zero sum game and with an already established footprint and an existing customer base into the millions, discounters need to get to grips with the expectancies of their customer base or even worse face losing them altogether.
Marketplace and the IoT's
The world of commodity, lesser value retail is on the threshold of a major shake up toward fully connected devices and automated purchases - Amazon's Alexa and their real world prime subscription buttons have seen rapid adoption in automating the purchase of goods such as dishwasher tablets or toilet roll and other low value add ons. Google Home promises to bring the world of its 'accelerated pages' into your search results and offer a one-stop, quick shop without having to leave your sofa (or your car).
For discounters to take themselves out the game entirely is a very risky approach and even more so when fast food outlets have begun their quest for automated delivery via the effervescent ground robotics delivery startup Starship Technologies. Amazon are forging ahead with aerial drone deployment and patenting giant airships that drop fleets of drones to deliver and collect goods (presumably at any time of the day, no more sitting at home awaiting deliveries and collections).
As aerially and ground mapping becomes more efficient with solutions such as What 3 Words and DroneDeploy, coupled with visual AI improvements, it's not difficult to see this form of rapid fire commerce becoming a seamlessly, automated reality in the next 3-5 years.
Even as connected commerce and automated delivery currently exists in its rudimentary format, it's disturbing to see that discounters are not eager to engage and at least begin fleshing out omni-channel offerings. It's apparent there is the appetite from their existing customer bases given the 100's of thousands of site visits they generate - It really is time the discounters got serious at competing in the modern retail arena by converting those high velocity visits into high frequency, micro sales from any device or medium their customers choose.
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