E-commerce is no priority for Action yet

Action store in Aalst, Belgium

The trial project set up by discount chain Action with pick-up points did not prove to be a triumph: the retailer puts sales in its physical stores first and focusses on expansion.


Stores continue to grow

Discounter Action has again published particularly strong figures recently, despite store closures due to lockdowns in several countries. The coronavirus is hardly slowing down the retailer. In contrast to many rivals, the company sees little benefit in e-commerce: after all, physical stores continue to grow strongly, says chief executive Sander van der Laan in newspaper De Tijd: "In our business model, e-commerce is still not a priority. Our stores continue to attract more customers, who also buy more. Last year our existing stores grew by 5.6 per cent".


According to its CEO, Action's model has two strengths: "We offer everyday products at a low price and our stores have a surprise-factor. Two-thirds of our assortment is constantly changing. Due to our growth, we were not interested in e-commerce in the short run".


Click & collect does not boom

Because the stores in Belgium and France had to close during lockdown, the retailer decided to open pick-up points in some French stores and in the Antwerp region. A trial that did not yet yield overwhelming results, says Judia Elkadi, director of Action Belgium: "It is still very difficult to organise these pick-up points. Customers have to pick up their parcels outside because they are not allowed in the store. Our five pick-up points aren’t yet booming. It's a side project since our physical stores already absorb our attention. We want to open them all up again, offering our complete range".


The retailer continues to focus on physical expansion, although the strongest growth in the Benelux is now behind. In Belgium, the discounter wants to expand from 188 to 200 stores and in Germany, the 400th store will open soon. France has surpassed the Netherlands as the largest market. Recently the retailer expanded to the Czech Republic, next year it will be Italy's and Spain's turn. In five years, Action wants to have stores in twelve countries, as opposed to the current eight.