Lidl couldn’t order, transport or sell a single product without good data connections. The global economy and growing customer concern about product origins and sustainability are also creating a need for fast-flowing information which is transparent at organizational level and which all stakeholders can trust.
The wholesaler Lidl & Schwarz KG was established in Neckarsulm, Germany, in 1930. Today, we have grown into a retail chain with locations in 32 countries, and approximately 10,800 stores and 287,000 employees worldwide.
At Lidl, being international is as much about purchasing as, say, employees being able to work in different countries.
Half of the products we sell are from Finland and the other half from around the world. Our business has also supported exports by Finnish companies; in 2018, 57 Finnish companies exported a total of 187 products to 24 countries.
In line with our operating model and corporate culture, our staff can apply to work in other Lidl countries, and we frequently welcome our international colleagues to Finland. So, for us, internationality is truly part of everyday life rather than an ‘optional extra’.
Neither our international nor our Finnish business would be able to operate without cloud services and the supporting data communications. Together, they enable over 180 Finnish Lidl stores to order and receive products from our three distribution centers at any time. In the case of fresh produce, this happens every day of the week.
Data connections are needed for creating shift rosters, ensuring the timeliness of data generated by cash registers, and making reliable forecasts. Smooth data communications are the most business-critical issue for us.
Megatrends are having a strong impact on retail as well as other sectors. Our customers are concerned about issues such as rational consumption, environmental awareness and ethics. Responsibility is therefore integral to the work of every Lidl employee. As a large global company and major player in Finland, we have a social responsibility to do the right thing.
We are investing hugely in energy efficiency. We use the waste heat generated by our own IT data centers to heat our buildings. Use of solar panels is becoming more and more the norm in our distribution centers and new stores, and we’re the best in the business at recycling and waste prevention.
Price is important to today's consumers, but interest is continually growing in the origin of food and ethical purchasing. Digitalization may provide us with new ways to share information on product origin with our customers.
At best, high-speed data communications have a positive impact on all business areas. They make sharing resources, such as expertise or knowledge, much easier. In Lidl’s case, a fast connection with our German headquarters has made our business more efficient, eased communications and streamlined collaboration.
Good data connections also generate direct cost savings for our international group. Online conferencing means fewer business trips.
Finland is no longer the backwater of Europe, but an important market for foreign players such as Lidl.
High-speed data connections eliminate distances and bring Finland closer to the international markets. And the converse is true: the rest of the world and its opportunities have been brought closer to Finnish companies!
- Guest Blogger is Jukka-Pekka Luhanko, CIO, Lidl Finland -