Rabo Securities, Rabobank's stock-focused division, is ecstatic about Ahold's online operations and concludes that no one will be able to catch up to the Dutch company in the near future.
Goal easily reached
Ahold has the goose with the golden eggs when it comes to the online operations of Albert Heijn, bol.com and American Peapod, according to Rabobank. The 2.5 billion online euro turnover goal by 2017 will easily be reached and even approach 3 billion euro, the bank says. Ahold itself expects a 1.7 billion euro online turnover for this year.
Rabo feels that Ahold's delivery subscription is one of the things that can help Ahold pick up the pace a lot. That delivery subscription would require Dutch customers to pay 120 euros per year to get things delivered at home, regardless of the frequency. This is the best way to create loyal customers, because if they get more home deliveries, then their cost per delivery will drop.
The online competition is also very weak: Jumbo will get into home delivery, but other competitors have not even divulged their plan, if any.
Apply in Belgium
Albert Heijn could easily replicate the formula in Belgium, where it will join forces with Delhaize next year. Its merger partner is rather weak online and the Belgian online landscape is patchy, to say the least. That means there is plenty of market share to grab, something Bol.com could take advantage of with a timely marketing push.
Ahold will keep investing heavily into its online operations despite the fact that this will put pressure on its price margins at first, CFO Jeff Carr revealed when the company revealed its latest quarterly numbers. Over the past few months, its online sales grew more than 30 %.
The huge spike in online sales is barely cannibalizing its other sales channels as even its brick&mortar stores registered an increase in turnover, which prompted Rabo to state that Ahold is reaching an additional audience now.
That is also why Rabo has told investors to buy shares of the Dutch supermarket chain and it has also adjusted the forecast for the share, from 23 euro to 23.5 euro over a 12-month period.