Budget grocery brand Aldi has been relatively slow to move its offering into the digital sphere; it launched its first ecommerce offering in 2016, first selling wine and then expanding into electricals and other non-food items. It was only in the midst of the coronavirus crisis in 2020 that it ventured into selling groceries online, beginning with a ‘food box’ of essentials (the likes of which many other grocery brands were offering) and moving into a partnership with Deliveroo to sell groceries through its app, and finally launching a fully-fledged online grocery store with click-and-collect.
However, in recent years H&M has also made its loyalty offering for online customers much more robust and enticing. Perks of its loyalty programme include a 10% discount upon joining, digital receipts, free click-and-collect, free standard delivery for orders of £20 or more, exclusive discounts and early access to selected collections, and much more – giving online customers many more reasons to return as well.
For decades, the Argos catalogue was a mainstay in British homes, with millions of consumers having a strong nostalgic attachment to the catalogue as a means of browsing for and picking out items to buy throughout their childhood and adulthood. As Wilkes put it, “Everybody can remember the role that the Argos catalogue played – circling birthday presents and Christmas gifts in the catalogue. It was the way to shop … At the height of its popularity, they were printing 10 million of these catalogues at any one time.”
“A digital POC isn’t about the build,” said Corcoran. “It’s about saying, ‘Can I prove the value?’ You need to make sure you focus on results and on proving the value of your proof of concept.”
Aldi has translated this “middle aisle” experience online by cheerfully jumbling its products together in a way that promotes unexpected finds, rather than opting for a store experience that emphasises search or neat categorisation. Granular product categories are present for those shoppers who are expecting a more traditional online shopping experience or are looking for something more specific, but lovers of the Aldi “bargain hunt” can simply meander through a category like Specialbuys – limited-edition products available at extremely low prices – and find the gems they never knew they needed.
“The reason for this is that consumers’ needs have changed. They no longer want to go into store and flick through that catalogue and write the number down and take it to the till – what they want to do is do that from the comfort of their own living room,” said Wilkes.
Clarks is another brand known and sought-after for its in-store experience: it has a reputation for high-quality, comfortable products, and also for the expertise of its store staff, particularly when it comes to fitting children’s shoes.