Let’s see, where did I leave off?
Last Thursday I flew to Chicago, hung out at the Aldi Test Kitchen, and stayed up late drinking wine and playing in the snow.
Floridian and proud, yo!
Friday I tried to sleep in, but was wide awake by 7:00am. Stupid internal alarm clock. Hmph. At least I had some time to get some work done before meeting everyone in the lobby for breakfast.
After breakfast we piled in the bus and headed to a nearby Aldi for a grocery store tour.
I’m almost afraid to admit how much I enjoyed the Aldi tour. We spent a little more than an hour roaming the aisles and reviewing everything in the store item-by-item. I left the store not only starving (talking about food makes me hungry), but dying to grab a cart and shop. Nothing makes me more pumped about grocery shopping than talking about grocery shopping.
So what did I learn? A ton.
Did you know Aldi has been in the U.S. for over 40 years? They currently operate 1,350 stores in 32 states across the U.S., with plans of opening 650 more over the next five years. They also plan to open their first warehouse in California, allowing them to expand to the west coast.
The majority of stores opened after 2003 are stand alone locations with lots of window, natural light, and high ceilings to open the space up. The store we toured in Geneva was gorgeous. Very clean and open. I wish the Aldi near me was this nice.
To cut costs (and then pass those savings along to customers) Aldi focuses only on products customers purchase on a regular basis and stores are only opened during frequently shopped business hours. They do not have traditional sales, nor do they accept manufacturers coupons (coupons come with a price tag). Instead Aldi focuses on everyday low pricing, with weekly special buys. Also, Aldi does not rely on traditional advertising. They have loyal customers that bring organic growth thanks to word-of-mouth promoting.
Fun fact: most new customers come to Aldi because of the baking aisle. Low-priced spices and baking ingredients are a sure-fire way to most customer’s heart.
Another fun fact: Aldi has a Double Quality Guarantee. If you purchase an item and are unhappy with it for whatever reason, you can bring the item back to refund purchase price and Aldi will replace the product.
One of the more unique characteristics of Aldi are the invisible shelves.
All products are shipped in ready-to-shelve packaging that can be stacked on top of each other. The boxes are also color coded, so each item can stand out.
(Awesome chips, by the way.)
In traditional grocery stores, items are placed on the shelf one item at a time. As you can imagine, this becomes a time and labor intensive project. Thanks to the invisible shelf concept, it takes half the time to stock an Aldi store. All they need to do is open the box and stack.
Also, check out the numerous UPC codes on Aldi products.
Aldi products typically have 5 UPC codes. The numerous UPC options per package is just another example of how Aldi saves time. There’s more than one way to scan a product, so cashiers can quickly work their way through a customer’s order.
Cashiers are also trained to scan items quickly to prevent the build-up of lines. Working off the cart of the person in front of you, putting groceries directly in the cart instead of in bags, multiple UPC codes options, etc. – all time savers! With a quicker process of getting customers through lines, Aldi requires less cash registers and employees (saving them money and passing those savings on to the customers).
Because Aldi locations require less associates than your typical grocery store, they have a reputation of starting employees out at significantly higher than minimum wage. Aldi also offers benefits to employees who work 20+ hours. When a new locations opens, thousands will line up at the in-store job fair, hoping to break into the Aldi family.
Now for the run down:
· Aldi corporate has been tasked with improving nutritional values in Aldi exclusive products. They are currently working on removing HFCS from products.
· As of January, organic produce is now available in all stores. Selections is dependent on region.
· Aldi is currently testing the market with organic meat. Mark your calendars! Organic grass fed beef will be a special buy at all Aldi location on March 26th . Quantities are limited and this is a popular item (aka go early because they sell out fast).
· Look for Gluten Free and Organic shelf tags, Aldi is slowly rolling those out. You can also check packages for Gluten Free labels.
Are you on Aldi overload yet? 😉
Truth: I was so pumped after the tour, that I went straight to Aldi on Saturday morning to stock up on pantry essentials for the week. I was so excited to try new products that I ended up spending more than our usual weekly bill – whoops. Just goes to show ya that even when you’re saving on regular items, it’s still easy to pile the cart high with random items and overspend.
I had a blast with the Aldi crowd last week and look forward to watching the supermarket chain continue to grow, grow, and grow!
What’s your favorite part of a grocery store?
This post was sponsored by Aldi. All opinions are my own.