The low-cost supermarket Lidl is to launch a non-food online shopping site in France.
It comes as a new comparator app launches which shows which store has a certain product at the lowest price.
Lidl first arrived in France in 1989 and has since become the fifth largest supermarket chain with over 1,500 shops across the country. However, unlike its rivals, it has yet to offer any type of online shopping or in-car pick-up (known as drive in French).
This is set to change on May 23 when the German company will announce details of the online shopping site that it will launch in France.
Michel Biero, Lidl’s purchasing and marketing executive director, said the company, which holds 7.7% of the market share in France, will start off with non food-based products.
In 2020, Mr Biero told the TV channel BFM Business that Lidl would not open any in-car pick-up points in France, but had not ruled out click & collect or home delivery in urban areas.
The company already offers online shopping in several other European countries including Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Teenager’s app compares shopping basket costs
It comes as a teenager living in the south of France has developed an app to compare the costs of individual products in different supermarkets.
Simeon Simeonov came up with the idea after hearing his parents talking about how food shopping was getting more and more expensive.
The result was Tous Anti Inflation, a nod to the TousAntiCovid app, available on both Android and IOS operating systems.
The app is simple to use, you scan a product’s barcode, or type in the name, and the app will list its price across the different supermarkets present in France.
You can also add products to a basket on the app, which will then show you how much the basket’s contents will cost in each supermarket. Shoppers can then either visit the shop where the basket costs the least or, for the keenest, go to different shops to buy each product at the best price.
Simeon, who was born in Bulgaria but moved to France when he was six, said he has noticed “Casino is regularly the most expensive. Carrefour and Auchan are in good positions and Leclerc has the lowest prices in 70% to 80% of cases”.
The teenager, who lives in Nice in the south of France, used “just a few little algorithms” to build the app, which uses open source data. “I base it on the Open Food facts library, notably used by the Yuka app and the supermarkets’ own drive [in-car pick-up] websites, when they offer this service. It is very simple,” he added.
Given food inflation has soared 15% in the past year (figures from France’s statistics agency Insee), it will be no surprise if the app’s use becomes widespread, said daily newspaper 20 minutes.
Around 97% of French people now “systematically compare prices,” a survey by market research company Ipsos shows.
Simeon meanwhile is keen to add new features to the app, listing “all the promotions offered, such as buy one, get one free, or the second at 50%, and one day why not have the possibility of moving the basket directly onto the website of the supermarket concerned”.
The app is free, and Mr Simeonov said it will remain so “if not, it would not make any sense”.
However, users can donate to the secondary school student who has to pay for the app’s servers. “A way to encourage me to continue,” he added.