America is known as the land of opportunity, and while we always believed this truism for individual people, history has shown us that it holds a lot of merit for corporations as well.
Every year, companies from overseas establish fledgling footprints in the United States. Like their American counterparts, some fail and disappear quickly, while others succeed and expand their reach, becoming household names in the markets where they exist.
In the retail/grocery space three such companies immediately come to mind: IKEA and Aldi which arrived decades ago, and the newcomer Lidl that will become a major player in the U.S. market starting this year. How big a player? Lidl plans to open 20 stores this summer and 100 by the end of this year. Atlantic coast states like the Carolinas and Virginia are the first target, but Lidl has a demonstrated interest in Texas as well. As its business grows, it’s only natural that it would seek new markets in other parts of the nation.
Newcomers bring new ideas
Companies such as IKEA, Aldi and Lidl bring more than just new competition to the marketplace; they bring new ideas for doing business as well.
IKEA is famous for its furniture that you put together yourself and its stores that feel like a scavenger hunt. Meanwhile, first-time Aldi customers are always a little surprised to pay a quarter for their cart before stepping into the grocer’s space filled with low cost, private label items. Lidl will offer a similar appearance to Aldi, though its stores will be larger and slightly more upscale, yet both still market heavily in private label options, compete on price and occupy a smaller footprint than American grocers.
What the arrival of these newcomers means for the hometown team
As new competitors arrive in the market, many existing retailers like grocers may be tempted to follow suit and replicate the offerings of their newfound competition. However, before everyone starts charging a quarter for each of their carts, it's important that we all step back and look at our unique businesses as a whole. Our successes are not due to sheer luck and we’ll never out-Aldi Aldi, just as they will never outdo us in the unique offerings that our businesses provide.
Whether it is service, selection, quality products or all of the above, every retail and grocery store has something unique to offer the space. Recognizing what those unique offerings are and capitalizing on them – instead of simply trying to follow suit – is the key to competing in this new, more crowded market space.
America is still the land of opportunity. Utilize what makes your business special, and you’ll make the most of yours.