Aldi boss scotches chatter of online plans

Aldi shoppers will have to continue trekking to physical stores for the foreseeable future.

Aldi shoppers will have to continue trekking to physical stores for the foreseeable future. Photo: Getty

Aldi has poured cold water on reports it is poised to launch online shopping in Australia, after public comments this week sparked a wave of speculation.

Aldi director of customer interaction Adrian Christie set shoppers chattering when he told a parliamentary inquiry on Monday that it was no longer sustainable for the German-owned discount grocery chain to go on without an e-commerce presence.

He stopped short of announcing any immediate plans for online shopping. But the comments did spark expectations that it could be just around the corner for Aldi customers.

There was also plenty of chatter online. But Aldi has quickly stepped in to shut down rumours.

Mr Christie told TND on Friday that the supermarket giant had no plans to launch an online option any time soon. Instead, it would stick with what it believed it already did well – focusing on prices.

“We are keeping a close eye on the e-commerce opportunity as we look to maximise customer convenience; however, we believe our fundamental responsibility, particularly now, is keeping the price of customers’ weekly shop as low as possible,” he said.

“One of the major ways we are able to offer the highest quality groceries at the lowest prices is our streamlined business model that is focused on simplicity.”

Mr Christie said Aldi wouldn’t take the next step into online shopping until it could ensure the costs of running an e-commerce platform wouldn’t compromise its ability to keep grocery prices low.

Mr Christie’s comments to TND echoed his remarks on Monday, when he explained the challenge for Aldi was to go online while trying to keep its prices between 15 to 20 per cent lower than its competitors.

“Quite right, you will see us entering that space in the future,” he told the parliamentary inquiry.

“I think there is significant share moving into the online space.”

Australia’s supermarket retail sector is dominated by Coles and Woolworths. Combined, they account for two-thirds of the local market, which is estimated at a total of $125 billion a year, according to the 2022 Australian Online Grocery Report.

Both have already invested heavily in online shopping.

The grocery report found that 48 per cent of Australians do at least some of their supermarket shopping online, with 10 per cent doing most of it. It said that 23 per cent of Australian household food budgets was spent online.

Aldi is the country’s third biggest supermarket player, with about 10 per cent of the market. Its share took a hit during the pandemic, when a lack of online options meant many customers bypassed it during lockdowns.

“Coming through COVID, Aldi didn’t do quite as well as retailers that had an online presence, but now the footfall into Aldi stores is really coming back. Most shoppers consider Aldi to represent the best value in the market in real terms,” Focus Insights ANZ general manager Neil Moody told Inside FMCG this week.

“As people become more squeezed, they will go a little bit further to try to find value. Aldi is not necessarily the first choice shop for everyone, but I expect more consumers will start doing their main shop at Aldi and shop there more frequently to better manage their budgets.”

The German export also remains popular with shoppers, despite the lack of an online option. Aldi recently beat its biggest competitors to be crowned Australian shoppers’ favourite supermarket for a sixth consecutive year.

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