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Aldi rolls out online wine shop

Aldi has opened its widely anticipated online wine shop in the UK, offering wines by the case for home delivery and click-and-collect.

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The website is offering cases of six wines, which can be browsed by colour, country, varietal, price-point and awards. It is the first plank in the discounter’s online strategy, which will be gradually extended to other categories in due course.

One industry insider told db the launch was likely to be “disruptive”, noting the discounter’s success in latching onto a market, growing and pushing out the competition.

“The success of the discounters has not been about price, but value. If look at Aldi’s range, it is comparatively cheap, but not all of it is cheap, there are some relatively mid- to premium products,” he said.

Prices range from around £22 for a case of six (averaging £3.79 a bottle) to £120 for six bottles of Champagne Blanc de Blanc 2010. It is also offering mixed cases, including its own premium label ‘Exquisite’ reds at £37.74 (an average of £6.29 per bottle) and the limited Lot series at around £60 a case.

Other wines on offer include Château Cure-Bourse 2010, Margaux for £77.94 and Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée 13 for £101.94.

Each wine includes tasting and serving notes, as well as suggested food pairings to make selection easier for consumer.

As part of the online offering, customers can choose between home-delivery and click-and-collect, from £3 for Standard 3-5 day and click-and-collect, or £4 for next day or named day home delivery. Click-and-collect is being made available through the CollectPlus network, which uses around 5,800 newsagents, corner-shops and convenience stores, many of which are open late and on weekends. However it is waving standard delivery costs as part of the introductory launch.

Tim Wilson of Wilson Drinks Report, which tracks online wines sales, said Aldi had built its success in-store by making the discounter “acceptable” to the middle classes, “who see it as a badge of honour”, and this was likely to be carried through to its online offer.

Greg WiIkins of Brand Phoenix agreed it was likely to boost the online sector as a whole.  “The general rule is that the more effective players you have in a market, the better everyone becomes, because they have to. The discounters moving into that sector will only refocus the efforts of those already in there and overall the effect is that the cost of online products will be lower,” he said.

Paul Letheren, of distributor Off-Piste Wine warned that the impact was likely to be felt across the retail landscape. “I wouldn’t underestimate the UK consumers. It is all well and good to get a lovely wine at M&S or Majestic, but if there’s a deal to be done… I reckon it would be a knock for Sunday Times Wine Club and Laithwaites.

“Five years ago Aldi was an irritation, but now they are a major player.”

The supermarket chain is the fastest-growing grocery retailer in the UK, with record sales of almost £7 billion last year.