Lidl entered the Czech market 16 years ago. Today, customers’ perception of the company is completely different. From a shop luring them with low prices, it has become a symbol of quality and an enjoyable shopping experience.
“Customers are our priority. Entire families with kids come to us, both for large weekly shops and for small daily purchases of fresh food. We’re very aware of a gradual change in which people are prioritizing quality over low prices, and freshness is increasingly crucial for them,” says Zuzana Holá, Head of Corporate Communications, on the changes in shopping behaviour. Lidl is therefore expanding the range of fruit and vegetables, and refrigerated goods. It is also adjusting layouts so that customers can access these products as soon as they enter the shops.
The most important criterion is quality, which in the case of fresh food depends on the speed of supply to the stores. Lidl delivers fruit, vegetables and meat to the shops daily. In terms of Czech produce and local growers, their products arrive in the stores the day after they are harvested.
„Spolupracujeme se středními i vysokými školami, poskytujeme praxe. Zaměřujeme se i na vzdělávání lidí na prodejnách, věnujeme se tématům jako komunikace se zákazníkem, poradenství, zdravá výživa a dalším.“Zuzana Holá, vedoucí oddělení firemní komunikace
Lidl monitors food trends and responds to them by modifying what goes into products. For example, it is gradually cutting levels of added sugar and salt, striving to use only natural colourings and flavourings, and is limiting the use of preservatives and other additives. Fruit and vegetable pesticide levels are also monitored. The limit for residue levels of active substances is no more than one third of the statutory maximum for products sold in Lidl shops. “We’re also increasing the number of gluten-free, labels to them, to give customers more information,” says Holá, describing the Lidl approach to food trends.
As part of its product range, Lidl is heavily involved in sustainability, particularly in an ecological approach to growing raw ingredients. Therefore, it works with several certification organizations, whose logos customers can see on individual products. “In the sustainable approach to purchasing raw ingredients, we’ve set several goals that we want to achieve in the coming years,” says Holá, discussing the product range.
It is younger customers, for whom such a criterion is decisive in purchasing, who particularly appreciate the sustainability effort, whereas the Older Generation looks at the price. A major issue for all generations is plastics and food waste. Lidl tries to keep up, pledging, among other things, to slash the amount of plastic in its packaging by 20 per cent no later than the end of 2025. In this area, too, it works very closely with suppliers and over time is analysing the possibilities for each product.
As suppliers are essential to the quality of the product range, Lidl is committed to fair, transparent, and long-term partnership. It also offers tried and tested products that are enjoying increasing success abroad. In 2018 alone, the items of 150 Czech producers could be found on the shelves of Lidl stores in 25 European countries and the USA.
Lidl’s employees also have a fundamental influence on customer experience and the shopping experience overall. Lidl employs several thousand staff, who play the biggest part in the chain’s success. The company therefore pays great attention to ensuring that its staff are responsive and helpful. But only employees who enjoy their work can be pleasant towards others. “So, a few years ago, we introduced above-average salaries for store staff and made part-time work more of an option. It’s important that people have time for family and hobbies,” explains Holá. Today, more than 70 per cent of Lidl staff work part-time. Another foundation the company builds on are its corporate values. All employees played a role in defining them a few years ago. Beyond dynamism and flexibility, fairness and a human approach are emphasized, which is strongly reflected in employee satisfaction. And employee satisfaction in turn has a significant impact on customer experience.
The shop environment as a whole also influences the complete in-store experience, according to surveys and Lidl’s experience. The company therefore attaches great importance to the modernization of all its stores, to ensure that shopping is as quick and easy as possible. These days, people do not want to spend their precious leisure time shopping and trying to choose the best quality from an endless range of products, and this is where the range of Lidl’s own labels comes in.
“We listen to our customers and try to respond to their needs. Their suggestions and our surveys clearly show that clients increasingly prefer smaller, daily purchases near home. That is why Lidl is changing. It has started to adapt its shops to the needs of towns and residential or administrative complexes. Lidl stores can increasingly be found in new developments in large cities, but also in several smaller settlements. We want to be closer to our clients,” notes Holá, summing up Lidl’s customer approach.