Lidl has launched online in Belgium today following rumours of its plan to expand its online offer across European markets.

Schwarz Group’s discount giant Lidl has opened an online store in Belgium today. The portal is similar to that which Lidl has operated in Germany for seven years.

The initial offer consists of 350 non-food items, such as cookware, home and garden and clothing. Orders will be home-delivered in two days for a €2.99 fee.

Following recent rumours that Lidl was preparing a similar offer in the Czech Republic, it seems as though we may be seeing the early stages of a concerted pan-European online push from Lidl.

At the heart of the offer is the retailer’s renowned special buys that have, over the years, become as distinctive as the discounter’s value food ranges.

The difference here though is that where in-store special buys act very much as a key footfall driver as part of weekly limited-time offers, here they may be available all year round.

Widening its product offer

Speaking to Belgian business paper De Tijd, Lidl’s Marjolein Frederickx said: “A shirt can be available for an entire year, while a ski jacket could be available during the winter.” She also added that the site would also feature bulkier items that it would not be possible to display in stores.

Discount and ecommerce has long been an equation that many analysts have worked long and hard to calculate. This model, however, appears to make perfect sense for a banner such as Lidl.

Having devoted decades of work to build the association of the Lidl name with (often surprisingly diverse) special buys, online provides the perfect chance to capitalise on that shopper perception of there always being a chance of finding an unexpected bargain.

“Discount and ecommerce has long been an equation that many analysts have worked long and hard to calculate”

We feel this perception, if coupled with astute marketing, will be a big driver of traffic to Lidl ecommerce sites.

Planet Retail fully expects to see further ecommerce ventures across Lidl’s countries of operation in the near to medium-term (the Netherlands would appear to be a highly likely candidate).

We do not at present envision this leading to a major move into grocery ecommerce, as this is a completely different animal from the current model as it stands.

That is not to say e-grocery is being completely discounted – witness the purchase of grocery start-up Kochzauber late last year and its Vorratsbox online offer – but we expect to see significant moves in this segment progress at a far slower pace.

As in most things, Schwarz Group will not rush into a venture until all the possibilities have been thoroughly explored.

  • Howard Lake, editor, Planet Retail