If you read my Taste of ALDI post, you know ALDI has arrived in California and I am not the least bit sorry about it.
In this post, I will provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what makes ALDI special among traditional grocery stores. Between the knowledge I gained at the Taste of ALDI event and attending the grand opening of my local store, I have so much to share!
Everything about the ALDI store model is designed to capture cost savings and pass them along to the customer. From the smaller store size to the number of UPCs on a package to the way the produce is packaged at the supplier, savings accumulate and ALDI shoppers benefit.
Let’s take a look at some of the particulars.
“Are you going to ALDI? Don’t forget your quarter,” my Dad reminds me, before a shopping trip to ALDI this past December while I was back in Wisconsin. At ALDI, you need a quarter to get a shopping cart. But fear not! You get your quarter back just as soon as you return the cart… to the cart corral at the front of the store.
So what’s the point? The point is, ALDI isn’t paying employees to hunt down shopping carts in parking lots, and that means lower prices for YOU.
You’ll also have to bag your own groceries and, if you didn’t bring reusable shopping bags, pay for bags at ALDI if you want them. In Los Angeles, we have to pay for shopping bags anyway, so no big deal.
You also need to know about ALDI Finds. Every week, ALDI introduces a selection of carefully curated products that are seasonal or for a limited time. That could mean lawn and garden items in spring, imported chocolates during the holidays, or just a product ALDI is testing out for future inclusion.
In addition to being in the ALDI Finds section of the store, perishable items throughout the store will be marked with a special shopping cart icon on the shelf tag. If you see something you like, stock up! There is no way to know when or if the product will be back. However, you can and should contact the ALDI customer service team to let them know you want more!
Everything about the ALDI experience is about speed.
Products arrive in shelf-ready packaging so employees aren’t spending extra time arranging cans or standing up bottles. Produce is often shrink-wrapped so it can be scanned easily at checkout. Meats arrive pre-portioned and packaged from the suppliers. You don’t have to wait for a butcher or person at the deli counter to prepare your food. You can just grab and go! (ALDI also isn’t paying department employees, either, which is more cost savings for YOU).
The stores have a smaller foot-print with the most important products so customers can get in and out in record time. 90% of the brands in-store are ALDI exclusive brands, but ALDI also carries a few national brands that consumers favor (think Coca-Cola or your favorite beer). That means ALDI can truly be your 1-stop shop.
When it comes time to check out, cashiers are seated because it provides a faster, more ergonomic experience. ALDI products will also have up to six identical UPCs per package which means the cashier will likely get the product scanned the first time.
Speaking of employees, the smaller store size means fewer employees (about 20 per store), and generally employees are cross-trained on most duties. If the lines are slow, cashiers will stock shelves. Everyone stays busy.
One thing ALDI isn’t skimping on? Quality. All of their products and recipes are rigorously tested, regularly and repeatedly, by in-house chefs, focus groups, and outside testing services. Achieving the same quality as the national brands is the minimum: exceeding expectations and delivering a superior product is the goal.
ALDI is so confident in the quality of their products, they have a Double Guarantee policy. This means if for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with any product, they will replace it AND refund your money.
ALDI has also removed certified synthetic colors, removed partially-hydrogenated oils, and removed added MSG from all products. You can learn more about that here.
Store products often vary by region, too. In California, for example, stores have expanded selections of wine, fresh flowers, and produce. Our stores may also carry kombucha! In Wisconsin, the stores carry Miracle Whip. :) These specialized regional offerings are based on demand and availability.
Some readers submitted questions based on their particular store, whether it was a product they wanted or a new store they want to see opened in their area. Contact the ALDI customer service team!
Tell them what you think, what you wish for, and how they can help. They want to hear from you and they consider all of your suggestions! Tell them you want more fresh herbs in Kentucky, cashew milk in Indiana, and a store in Jackson, Mississippi.
If you have more questions for me, feel free to leave a comment! Thanks for reading about ALDI, my new favorite store. Search all ALDI California locations so you can find the one closest to you!
Next time, I’ll be sharing some Wine Pairing Basics I learned at the Taste of ALDI event. ALDI makes wine shopping and pairing easier than ever. I can’t wait to share all my tips!