Poundland has opened a new front in its fight to become Britain’s premier discount store: the internet. Fifteen years after Tesco (but only a year or so after Morrisons) went online, Poundland has finally opened its virtual doors to tech-savvy shoppers.
Over 2,000 items will be available for £1 (naturally), but customers looking for the best offers may not be so pleased with the £4 flat delivery fee – or the four to five day wait for their items to arrive.
Clearly Poundland boss Jim McCarthy isn’t going after people who want to buy a packet of Mars bars and some toilet roll but can’t be bothered to go down the shops - the margins on its products are far too low to absorb the costs of delivery. Rather, with free delivery on all orders over £50, the new service is designed to appeal to those who want to buy non-perishable goods in bulk – exactly the sort of customer discount stores most covet anyway.
‘The online shopping market is a rapidly growing channel and one which could provide a significant potential opportunity for us,’ said McCarthy, who was MT’s cover star in June.
The discount sector has been growing rapidly as more affluent consumers realise that low cost doesn’t necessarily equal low quality. While most attention goes on the efforts of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets to resist the onslaught, this move is likely to be directed against Poundland’s fellow discounters.
Poundland's rapid in-store growth appears to be slowing, so it's been looking elsewhere for opportunities to expand. Last month, it got the green light for its acquisition of rival 99p Stores, and now it’s trying to steal a march over Aldi and Lidl in the growing digital arena, joining competitors Poundshop and Poundworld, which started selling online in April.
Neither of the German firms offers internet shopping – yet. But whether online will become a major battleground in the discount shopping wars or just the site for a few skirmishes remains to be seen.
'We don't sell £1 products. We sell incredible products.' - Read The MT Interview with Poundland's Jim McCarthy.