Goods shelf and shopping trolley of a modern discounter

Only cheap was yesterday

Do you remember the days when discount stores were not only cheap but all looked pretty much the same? Tons of no-name products that always looked the same, usually packed in cartons, piled up between the too-narrow aisles. Even DIY stores had more atmosphere on offer. Bad air and too bright or too dark lighting didn´t exactly foster good mood, rather only nourishing the desire to leave the lack-lustre warehouse as soon as possible.

Yet that is increasingly a thing of the past. Germany’s discount chains want to get out of the dingy corner and away from the image of eternal cheap suppliers. Can we offer something more beautiful and comfortable? Perhaps the customer has always been king, but now he should feel that way in any case.

The big chains have come up with some ideas make the discounter more like the much more inviting supermarket: daylight or modern LEDs instead of sterile fluorescent tubes, wood paneling and bright displays for a friendly and inspiring atmosphere. Pallets are hopefully only encountered when new goods are delivered. The goods, as is standard in supermarkets, are stacked tidily and mostly within reach on clean shelves. Fruits and vegetables are presented in the best light. With coolers, bakery and coffee vending machines in the sales area, the new shop generation surpasses all expectations and makes some supermarkets look old.

The restructuring of the branches will not take place overnight, but is a done deal. In the food discounters´ headquarters one knows that customers – especially in economically good times – not only pay attention to the price, but also on the trappings. They want to feel good and find some rest and relaxation before heading back into the hectic rush hour traffic or into the fully-planned weekend.

In addition to the insight into the changing, i.e. increased, customer needs, sober realities also play a role for discounters: in the face of fierce competition with the more attractive full-range producers, they are increasingly threatened with losing ground. The portion of the pie is becoming smaller for all providers: surveys show a decline in visitor numbers in stationary retail. Shopping is increasingly perceived as a burden. Systematic trading-up with a sophisticated atmosphere and a more varied assortment should relieve the situation.

However, market experts are already warning against going overboard. After all, discounters must continue to sell based on the price. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the balance between the impression of more quality and comfort for the customers and the communication of their central selling point, to be unbeatably inexpensive.

Nevertheless, the new era has begun, and the visitor often already recognises from the outside where the future is going: more appealing building forms with entrance portals and glass facades communicate a new self-confidence. Covered collection points for shopping trolleys and bicycle parking facilities don´t leave anyone out in the rain; some places even already have a charging station for e-bikes and electric cars. Made of high quality materials, these systems make an impression of value that promises on the outside what should be fulfilled inside: that only cheap was yesterday.

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