HEY CHINESE EDM, WE ARE HERE TO LISTEN AND LEARN
How do you enter a new market – especially if it is as foreign and disconnected as China? Moreover, a market where many of your global competitors have already failed big time? With high demanding, tech-savvy and confident Chinese consumers who need to be convinced by you?
German supermarket giant, Aldi 奥乐齐, entered the Chinese retail market in as lean and agile a way as this dynamic market demands. By approaching expansion from the perspective of the student, not of the master, Aldi started small and listened to their new customers; gradually expanding the brand’s exposure to them. “We are here to learn”, is figuratively written about every move Aldi made in China.
CHINA DEMANDS AGILE MANAGEMENT, ALDI DELIVERS
Aldi started purely online when, in 2017, it opened a shop on Tmall Global, the biggest Chinese shopping site for international brands and retailers. A data-rich environment with fulfilment support from Tmall gave Aldi a testbed to explore the realities of the Chinese market and the demands of its consumers – and to develop its own approach to meeting these demands.
Two years later, Aldi stepped carefully onto Chinese soil: Since 2019, there have been 2 pilot stores in Shanghai. With digital intel about location, product-selection, pricing and customer demands, Aldi is able to steer more precisely and to test new in-store technology. Self-service check-out counters, in-app shopping and payment, as well as O2O shopping features in combination with their T-Mall store, to name just a few examples. By 2021, they had already opened their 9th store in Shanghai.
ALDI REINVENTS THEIR APPROACH AND RELEARNS BUSINESS
The retail game in China is writing in its own new playbook for brand and business operations. In the Far East, the German retail giant is learning how to apply new retail and experience technology; gaining first-hand experience, identifying bottlenecks, understanding what is truly relevant and building vital local partnerships.
Sun Tzu says: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Aldi’s expansion into the Chinese market shows us how to experiment, listen and rethink your customers; how to cooperate and relearn your operational model, in order to successfully navigate highly-uncertain and rapidly-evolving environments.