Aldi definitely has nothing to do with the likes of Whole Foods, Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. In fact, the American grocery chain hasn’t always had the best reputation. For a long time, their lower costs were associated with lower quality. But Aldi has been working on changing its image, turning its bottom-of-the-scale label into one of most popular grocery destination for many American shoppers. Wonder what’s hiding behind the big-name market? Here are 17 secrets Aldi doesn’t want you to know.
17. There’s a reason they keep the boxes
You might have noticed that Aldi’s aisles have a somewhat Costco vibe. But don’t be mistaken, the boxes on the shelves have nothing to do with the employees being lazy. It is rather tactic to stop spending so much time and money on presentation and optimize productivity.
16. They have very little staff
One of the reasons why Aldi’s prices are so low and why they keep the boxes on the shelves is because they keep the staff to a minimum which allows them to save money. In doing so, they can afford to offer some of the lowest prices on the market.
15. The staff isn’t necessarily thrilled about it
As a result, you might notice that employees sometimes seem a little stressed. This is because, by keeping the staff to a minimum, they each carry more responsibilities and have to do more in less time. That being said, ex-employees have reported that paydays, benefits, and opportunities are good.
14. There have everything in place to make checking out as fast as possible
Aldi has everything in place for you to be able to get in, get out, and get home as quickly as possible. Unlike Whole Foods, the grocery store’s approach isn’t to create a special shopping experience, but rather help their costumer get things done as fast as possible while purchasing more for less money. To do so, they use a few tricks to keep things moving such as the perfect length of conveyor belts and multiple barcodes.
13. It’s cheap, but not as cheap as they claim
Aldi has mainly built their reputation on their low prices. And this is no scam. Their prices are a lot cheaper than their competitors’. However, if you compare their name brand to other store brands, while Aldi’s are still the most affordable option, the difference is not as high as the chain claims it to be. We have to blame (or credit?) their marketing efforts for that one.
12. There’s a reason why they charge a deposit to use their carts
First-time shoppers might find it a little weird. But when you really think about it, it really isn’t a bad idea: the tactic forces shoppers to return their cart so they don’t have to pay an employee to do it. So it does have to do with money, just not your quarter.
11. Their return policy is crazy
Aldi doesn’t do money-back guarantee, they do Double Guarantee. This means that if there is something you don’t like, you can return the remaining portion and they’ll replace it and reimburse you. Talk about serious quality assurance… Pretty insane.
10. They only open during peak hours
Unlike most stores in the US, Aldi doesn’t do 24/7. As you know by now, the chain is all about efficiency in order to save money (and make it) and since an empty store at 2 am means they are paying staff while making no income, most Aldi only open from 9 am to 8 or 9 pm. That way, they don’t have to pay a bunch of college students willing to go red-eye to afford university tuition.
9. They won some major awards
Unlike what people used to think, Aldi’s low prices don’t mean low quality. The corporation has the awards to prove it. They placed second in the International Wine Challenge for rose wines in a blind taste test and some top honours at the International Spirits Challenge and some 25 medals in the Grocer Food and Drink Own Label Awards.
8. They deliver!
It all started with Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. These lucky Aldi customers can order their groceries through Instacart and have it delivered to their door. This time-saving solution is said to be expanded to many more cities. So keep an eye out and conference call your entourage once they offer it in your city.
7. Their bread-on-demand machines were at the heart of a controversy
In November 2010, German Aldi stores turned to “technological innovation,” to offer made-to-order freshly baked rolls in a matter of seconds with their in-store baking machine. But the German Bakers’ Confederation took it personal. The whole thing ended up in court with Aldi’s team of lawyers and attorneys denying the court the right to inspect the machines and the raw dough…
6. There are two different Aldis
The Adi banner is actually divided into two different corporations: North and South. In the 1960s, when the two founders couldn’t agree on selling cigarettes or not, they simply decided to split the company. North’s logo is blue and white while South’s logo is orange and blue. The southern Aldi is also a bit fancier.
5. Aldi products contain no artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and MSG
They removed questionable ingredients from their name brand products. Good on them… And us! Still, don’t go cancelling your health insurance.
4. Aldi and Trader Joe’s
In the US, Aldi Sud (South) is simply known as Aldi while Aldi Nord (North) operates as… Trader Joe’s. Incredible right? But yes, Trader Joe’s is basically an Americanized version of Aldi. Now the emphasis on private labelling and a definite lack of advertising all makes sense, doesn’t it.
3. You’ll be able to get your groceries at Kohl’s
Kohl’s will be subletting space in their stores to Aldi. A great way to save time and shop for everything in one place. Not only will you be saving money, and better afford your mortgage, but you’ll be saving time as well.
2. The product test process is intense
Aldi takes the idea of quality very seriously. In fact, their test kitchens have very strict policies. Each product is tested 30 times before it makes it in the store. They are also re-test at least once a year as well as every time one of their competitors launches a similar product.
1. They are all about verzicht
There’s no direct English translation, but the word would mean a combination of “doing without” and “giving up.” Basically, it’s all about simplicity and thriftiness. No employee will tell you this, as they are not allowed to talk to the media, but when a regional manager published a book that revealing Aldi’s business plan, we all learned that their philosophy is all about keeping things simple. It all boils down to setting a goal and getting rid of everything else.