ALDI

Aldi Nord logo Aldi Süd logo

Aldi is an international hard discount supermarket chain based in Germany. It is actually two separate companies but is commonly referred to as one. The company's name stands for Albrecht-Discount, using the founders' last name. Historically, Aldi is said to have been Germany's first real discount supermarket. Its spartan stores with low prices on a limited range of goods can now be found in more than a dozen countries.

History

The company was founded in 1946 by the brothers Karl and Theo Paul Albrecht in Essen, Germany. Back then, it comprised only one small food shop. In the year 1961, the then-Aldi chain of supermarket stores split into two sister companies (each belonging to one of the brothers) over a dispute whether to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products at the checkout. Thus today, Aldi consists of Aldi Nord (Aldi North) (where tobacco sales were deemed to be acceptable) and Aldi Süd (Aldi South) (where they were not; however Aldi Süd began selling tobacco products in 2003). The chains initially covered the respective different regions of the then-West Germany. The companies have since expanded internationally, into other European, North American, and Australian markets. In principle, the two firms share nothing but the name and a similar corporate identity; however, they describe their relationship as a "friendly alliance" and there appear to be agreements between the two insofar that they do not compete directly with each other and (except for Germany) never both operate in the same countries.

Regions where Aldi operates

A map of the countries in Europe that Aldi operates, orange: "Aldi South", dark blue:"Aldi North"

Aldi Nord operates in

  • Northern Germany
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal (coming soon)
  • Spain


Aldi Süd operates in

  • Southern Germany
  • Australia
  • Austria (where it operates under the name Hofer)
  • Ireland
  • Slovenia (where it operates under the name Hofer)
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

What you may find in an Aldi store

Aldi specializes in staple items such as food, beverages, sanitary articles and other inexpensive household items. One reason for Aldi's success is that the number of brands is very limited, you usually don't find more than two different brands for one kind of product and often only one. This increases the numbers of sales for each article and also allows Aldi stores to be smaller than supermarkets which cover the same range of products but with more diversity. Also it allowed Aldi to avoid the use of price tags even before the introduction of barcode scanners (see below).

Additionally to the standard assortment Aldi also has weekly special offers, some of them on more expensive products such as electronics, appliances or computers, usually from Medion. Although not always available, but regulary put up for sale are clothing, toys, flowers, gifts. The specials are only available in strictly limited quantities and for a limited timeframe (one week). In the past some of Aldi's early computer offers, created some kind of hysteria in Germany, with all available items sold in only a few hours.

Aldi is the largest wine retailer in Germany. Aldi mainly sells exclusively produced, custom-branded products (often identical to and produced by major brands) with brand names including "Grandessa" and "Fit and Active". American Aldi stores also feature bargain-priced, gourmet foods imported from Germany. Although Aldi emphasizes low prices, reports from a German consumer watchdog suggest that this does not negatively impact the quality of Aldi products.

Low price philosophy

Aldi's "strictly no frills" approach is evident for instance in that typically Aldi stores do not decorate aisles — or even fill shelves for that matter: Pallets of the products on offer are commonly simply parked alongside the aisles, and customers picking up products will gradually empty them. When all items on a pallet have been sold, it is replaced. Long queues at the checkout counter are also relatively common, reflecting Aldi's minimal staffing levels, as well as the competitive situation in Aldi's native Germany, where long supermarket checkout lines are part of daily life. However, due to the efficient checkout system, a long queue does not necessarily translate into longer waiting times than in other supermarkets.

These and other cost-cutting strategies save Aldi money and arguably the general price level in Aldi stores — as compared to more "upmarket" supermarkets — appears to show that at least some or most of these savings are passed on to consumer. Aldi has successfully carved its own (actually rather large) niche with this approach: While shoppers may not normally like shopping in a bland or industrial-looking (and possibly congested) store, such utter lack of frills has become part of the accepted norm with Aldi, and consumers appear to be willing to accept it because of the "incredible value" they expect to get in exchange. ("Top quality at incredibly low prices" is an Aldi marketing slogan.)

Aldi also profited from the introduction of the euro in Germany and other countries. Consumers believed that many merchants had used the currency changeover as a cover to increase prices, often substantially; this was later confirmed by independent studies. In contrast to other supermarkets, Aldi prominently listed "before and after" prices on posters in stores for months after the introduction, and generally rounded its euro prices down. As a result, Aldi earned a great deal of customer goodwill.

Advertising policy

Aldi has a policy in Germany of not advertising, apart from a weekly list of special prices called Aldi informiert (Aldi informs) that is distributed in stores, by direct mail, and sometimes printed in local newspapers. It claims this is a cost savings that can be passed on to consumers. However, in the USA, Aldi advertises regularly via weekly newspaper inserts and Aldi television commercials have begun airing on the TBS network, and in the UK print and television ads appeared in mid-2005. Aldi do not have publicly listed telephones in stores to minimize the time checkouts are unutilised.

Checkout system

Aldi's checkout procedure is highly standardized, with checkout operators sitting down in swivel chairs, passing products through a two-sided barcode scanner. Products have very long barcodes covering several sides of the packaging to speed this procedure. Cashiers save additional time by preparing the most likely amount of change while the customer is still searching for money in his/her wallet.

Aldi was, however, a latecomer to barcode scanners, and many stores only added them in 2004; previously, cashier clerks would manually enter a three-digit code for each item from memory (Aldi Nord) or the price (Aldi Süd). An advantage of this was that the cashiers could already type in the prices of all the articles on the conveyer belt even if the customers were blocking the process by not putting the articles quickly enough back into their shopping cart.

Once products have been scanned, they are put directly in the shopping cart, which has a special dock on the counter for this purpose. This is why Aldi stores in Germany insist that customers use a cart; the customer is expected to bag groceries at a separate bench. Many, if not most customers, however, ignore this rule, not least because it would force them to join the queue to leave the store even if they hadn't purchased anything. Aldi generally does not offer hand baskets. However, in Australia select stores do have hand baskets available.

Reputation

In West Germany, before about 1990, Aldi shops were often ridiculed as being cheap shops selling poor-quality goods. Aldi's customers were alleged to be only poor people who couldn't afford to shop elsewhere. Loyal German soccer fans, ashamed of their favorite team's performance, were known to wear Aldi bags over their heads as a gag. Being held in such low esteem by many did not seem to dent Aldi's profits however. After German reunification, many German middle class families had to cut down their spending and Aldi's popularity and public acceptance grew. Many individual consumers "discovered" that the poor reputation of Aldi's products was apparently undeserved. This shift in public perception was boosted by a series of cookbooks that only used Aldi ingredients, which led to the emergence of a kind of Aldi fandom into the German mainstream.

In countries such as the UK, where the level of service and presentation of mainstream supermarkets is arguably lower than in Aldi's native Germany, Aldi's public reputation does not appear to have improved in the same way. Despite this, and the strong price competition between such British retailers on precisely the basic goods Aldi sells, the firm apparently remains profitable.

In the United Kingdom, Aldi (just like it's rival Lidl) is often the centre of jokes regarding the wealth of a person, particularly with the younger generation. Many consider it to be derogatory to shop at Aldi, and as a result a lot of students will not admit to shopping there if they do.

Business practices

Many Aldi practices are common in German supermarkets but largely unique to Aldi in markets such as the U.S. and Britain. These include the system of metal gates and turnstiles forcing customers to exit through the checkout, the practice of charging for shopping bags, and the fact that Aldi until recently accepted only cash (since 2004, German stores have begun to accept the Maestro debit card). Debit cards are also accepted in the USA. Like most German retailers, Aldi does not accept major credit cards. Aldi does accept MasterCard, Bankcard and Visa in Australia for an additional 1% surcharge.

Aldi stores worldwide are approximately the same size. The company's stores in Germany are similar in size to those of competing supermarkets, and they can often be found in shopping centres or elsewhere where retail units of this size are common. However in other countries, such as Britain, France, and the U.S., Aldi stores are far smaller than those countries' typical supermarkets or hypermarkets, and tend to be free-standing, purpose-built structures.

Aldi stores often have fairly limited opening hours, such as were restricted by law (until 18:30 weeknights and 14:00 Saturdays) in Germany until these laws were relaxed somewhat in 1996 and 2004. Some (but by no means all) of its German outlets, particularly those in shopping centres, now stay open until the revised legal closing time of 20:00. On the other hand, Aldi stores in the U.S. and U.K. close around 19:00 weeknights, earlier on Saturday, and most remain closed on Sunday, in contrast to the late or 24-hour opening times of many U.S. and British supermarkets. Aldi's U.S. stores are the only ones to offer customer toilets.

In Germany Aldi is occasionally jokingly called Feinkost Albrecht (approximate translation: Albrecht Deli).

Recently the similar Lidl chain has grown faster than Aldi; its major difference in business practice is that it stocks a few name brands.

Aldi Talk

On the 7th December 2005, based on their well known brand, Aldi (both Nord and Süd) in Germany introduced a pay-as-you-go mobile phone company Aldi Talk, piggybacking on the e-plus network. They offered rates of €0,05 (approx US$ 0.06) per minute/SMS to other Aldi Talk customers and €0,15 (approx US$ 0.18) to landlines and other mobile phones. This phone offer is available on either a “starter set”, which is a SIM card and €10 (US$ 12.01) worth of credit at €19,99 (US$ 24.02), or a Medion mobile phone [1] with a SIM card at €59,99 (US$ 72.11).

Previously, Aldi Süd in Austria did a pay-as-you-go service called “yesss!” [2] with Connect Austria's One.

Competitors

  • Lidl (5000 stores)
  • Netto (1200 stores)
  • Kwiksave (UK Only)

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Previously, Aldi Süd in Austria did a pay-as-you-go service called “yesss!” [2] with Connect Austria's One. (1) Nielsen NetRatings (October 2005) data. This phone offer is available on either a “starter set”, which is a SIM card and €10 (US$ 12.01) worth of credit at €19,99 (US$ 24.02), or a Medion mobile phone [1] with a SIM card at €59,99 (US$ 72.11). In October 2005 a book on Kelkoo appeared in French called "Ils on reussi leur start-up". They offered rates of €0,05 (approx US$ 0.06) per minute/SMS to other Aldi Talk customers and €0,15 (approx US$ 0.18) to landlines and other mobile phones. The name "Kelkoo" originated from the pronunciation of the expression "At what cost?" in French. On the 7th December 2005, based on their well known brand, Aldi (both Nord and Süd) in Germany introduced a pay-as-you-go mobile phone company Aldi Talk, piggybacking on the e-plus network. Kelkoo operates the shopping channels of major Internet players like MSN across Europe (since June 2003), Yahoo! in France, Spain and Italy and provides a product search for Ask Jeeves? in the UK.

Recently the similar Lidl chain has grown faster than Aldi; its major difference in business practice is that it stocks a few name brands. At the same time, Hitwise announced that Kelkoo was the number 1 UK website, based on visits to the Shopping & Classifieds - Rewards and Directories category. In Germany Aldi is occasionally jokingly called Feinkost Albrecht (approximate translation: Albrecht Deli). In October 2004 Nielsen/NetRatings and BBC described Kelkoo as "the dominant shopping guide" in the UK. stores are the only ones to offer customer toilets. Kelkoo was nominated by Nielsen/Netratings one of the 10 most influential websites of the decade(4), and received praise by the BBC Online for "paving the way for online shopping". Aldi's U.S. It provides shoppers with tools to compare prices and product features.

and British supermarkets. Kelkoo is a one-stop shopping service, which helps shoppers to find, research and buy products online. close around 19:00 weeknights, earlier on Saturday, and most remain closed on Sunday, in contrast to the late or 24-hour opening times of many U.S. Kelkoo has been profitable since Q4 2002. and U.K. Kelkoo now operates in 10 European countries and receives over 12 million unique users monthly (over 4 million in the UK) from users across Europe(1). On the other hand, Aldi stores in the U.S. In April 2004 Kelkoo was acquired by Yahoo! Inc and is now a wholly owned subsidiary.

Some (but by no means all) of its German outlets, particularly those in shopping centres, now stay open until the revised legal closing time of 20:00. Within 2 years of launching, Kelkoo became Europe's largest e-commerce website after Amazon and Ebay and the largest e-commerce advertising platform both in the UK and Europe by merging with Zoomit, Dondecomprar and Shopgenie. Aldi stores often have fairly limited opening hours, such as were restricted by law (until 18:30 weeknights and 14:00 Saturdays) in Germany until these laws were relaxed somewhat in 1996 and 2004. Kelkoo.com was founded in 1999 by Pierre Chappaz and Mauricio Lopez. However in other countries, such as Britain, France, and the U.S., Aldi stores are far smaller than those countries' typical supermarkets or hypermarkets, and tend to be free-standing, purpose-built structures. The company's stores in Germany are similar in size to those of competing supermarkets, and they can often be found in shopping centres or elsewhere where retail units of this size are common.

Aldi stores worldwide are approximately the same size. Aldi does accept MasterCard, Bankcard and Visa in Australia for an additional 1% surcharge. Like most German retailers, Aldi does not accept major credit cards. Debit cards are also accepted in the USA.

These include the system of metal gates and turnstiles forcing customers to exit through the checkout, the practice of charging for shopping bags, and the fact that Aldi until recently accepted only cash (since 2004, German stores have begun to accept the Maestro debit card). and Britain. Many Aldi practices are common in German supermarkets but largely unique to Aldi in markets such as the U.S. Many consider it to be derogatory to shop at Aldi, and as a result a lot of students will not admit to shopping there if they do.

In the United Kingdom, Aldi (just like it's rival Lidl) is often the centre of jokes regarding the wealth of a person, particularly with the younger generation. Despite this, and the strong price competition between such British retailers on precisely the basic goods Aldi sells, the firm apparently remains profitable. In countries such as the UK, where the level of service and presentation of mainstream supermarkets is arguably lower than in Aldi's native Germany, Aldi's public reputation does not appear to have improved in the same way. This shift in public perception was boosted by a series of cookbooks that only used Aldi ingredients, which led to the emergence of a kind of Aldi fandom into the German mainstream.

Many individual consumers "discovered" that the poor reputation of Aldi's products was apparently undeserved. After German reunification, many German middle class families had to cut down their spending and Aldi's popularity and public acceptance grew. Being held in such low esteem by many did not seem to dent Aldi's profits however. Loyal German soccer fans, ashamed of their favorite team's performance, were known to wear Aldi bags over their heads as a gag.

Aldi's customers were alleged to be only poor people who couldn't afford to shop elsewhere. In West Germany, before about 1990, Aldi shops were often ridiculed as being cheap shops selling poor-quality goods. However, in Australia select stores do have hand baskets available. Aldi generally does not offer hand baskets.

Many, if not most customers, however, ignore this rule, not least because it would force them to join the queue to leave the store even if they hadn't purchased anything. This is why Aldi stores in Germany insist that customers use a cart; the customer is expected to bag groceries at a separate bench. Once products have been scanned, they are put directly in the shopping cart, which has a special dock on the counter for this purpose. An advantage of this was that the cashiers could already type in the prices of all the articles on the conveyer belt even if the customers were blocking the process by not putting the articles quickly enough back into their shopping cart.

Aldi was, however, a latecomer to barcode scanners, and many stores only added them in 2004; previously, cashier clerks would manually enter a three-digit code for each item from memory (Aldi Nord) or the price (Aldi Süd). Cashiers save additional time by preparing the most likely amount of change while the customer is still searching for money in his/her wallet. Products have very long barcodes covering several sides of the packaging to speed this procedure. Aldi's checkout procedure is highly standardized, with checkout operators sitting down in swivel chairs, passing products through a two-sided barcode scanner.

Aldi do not have publicly listed telephones in stores to minimize the time checkouts are unutilised. However, in the USA, Aldi advertises regularly via weekly newspaper inserts and Aldi television commercials have begun airing on the TBS network, and in the UK print and television ads appeared in mid-2005. It claims this is a cost savings that can be passed on to consumers. Aldi has a policy in Germany of not advertising, apart from a weekly list of special prices called Aldi informiert (Aldi informs) that is distributed in stores, by direct mail, and sometimes printed in local newspapers.

As a result, Aldi earned a great deal of customer goodwill. In contrast to other supermarkets, Aldi prominently listed "before and after" prices on posters in stores for months after the introduction, and generally rounded its euro prices down. Consumers believed that many merchants had used the currency changeover as a cover to increase prices, often substantially; this was later confirmed by independent studies. Aldi also profited from the introduction of the euro in Germany and other countries.

("Top quality at incredibly low prices" is an Aldi marketing slogan.). Aldi has successfully carved its own (actually rather large) niche with this approach: While shoppers may not normally like shopping in a bland or industrial-looking (and possibly congested) store, such utter lack of frills has become part of the accepted norm with Aldi, and consumers appear to be willing to accept it because of the "incredible value" they expect to get in exchange. These and other cost-cutting strategies save Aldi money and arguably the general price level in Aldi stores — as compared to more "upmarket" supermarkets — appears to show that at least some or most of these savings are passed on to consumer. However, due to the efficient checkout system, a long queue does not necessarily translate into longer waiting times than in other supermarkets.

Long queues at the checkout counter are also relatively common, reflecting Aldi's minimal staffing levels, as well as the competitive situation in Aldi's native Germany, where long supermarket checkout lines are part of daily life. When all items on a pallet have been sold, it is replaced. Aldi's "strictly no frills" approach is evident for instance in that typically Aldi stores do not decorate aisles — or even fill shelves for that matter: Pallets of the products on offer are commonly simply parked alongside the aisles, and customers picking up products will gradually empty them. Although Aldi emphasizes low prices, reports from a German consumer watchdog suggest that this does not negatively impact the quality of Aldi products.

American Aldi stores also feature bargain-priced, gourmet foods imported from Germany. Aldi mainly sells exclusively produced, custom-branded products (often identical to and produced by major brands) with brand names including "Grandessa" and "Fit and Active". Aldi is the largest wine retailer in Germany. In the past some of Aldi's early computer offers, created some kind of hysteria in Germany, with all available items sold in only a few hours.

The specials are only available in strictly limited quantities and for a limited timeframe (one week). Although not always available, but regulary put up for sale are clothing, toys, flowers, gifts. Additionally to the standard assortment Aldi also has weekly special offers, some of them on more expensive products such as electronics, appliances or computers, usually from Medion. Also it allowed Aldi to avoid the use of price tags even before the introduction of barcode scanners (see below).

This increases the numbers of sales for each article and also allows Aldi stores to be smaller than supermarkets which cover the same range of products but with more diversity. One reason for Aldi's success is that the number of brands is very limited, you usually don't find more than two different brands for one kind of product and often only one. Aldi specializes in staple items such as food, beverages, sanitary articles and other inexpensive household items.
Aldi Süd operates in.

Aldi Nord operates in. In principle, the two firms share nothing but the name and a similar corporate identity; however, they describe their relationship as a "friendly alliance" and there appear to be agreements between the two insofar that they do not compete directly with each other and (except for Germany) never both operate in the same countries. The companies have since expanded internationally, into other European, North American, and Australian markets. The chains initially covered the respective different regions of the then-West Germany.

Thus today, Aldi consists of Aldi Nord (Aldi North) (where tobacco sales were deemed to be acceptable) and Aldi Süd (Aldi South) (where they were not; however Aldi Süd began selling tobacco products in 2003). In the year 1961, the then-Aldi chain of supermarket stores split into two sister companies (each belonging to one of the brothers) over a dispute whether to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products at the checkout. Back then, it comprised only one small food shop. The company was founded in 1946 by the brothers Karl and Theo Paul Albrecht in Essen, Germany.

. Its spartan stores with low prices on a limited range of goods can now be found in more than a dozen countries. Historically, Aldi is said to have been Germany's first real discount supermarket. The company's name stands for Albrecht-Discount, using the founders' last name.

It is actually two separate companies but is commonly referred to as one. Aldi is an international hard discount supermarket chain based in Germany. Kwiksave (UK Only). Netto (1200 stores).

Lidl (5000 stores). USA. United Kingdom. Switzerland.

Slovenia (where it operates under the name Hofer). Ireland. Austria (where it operates under the name Hofer). Australia.

Southern Germany. Spain. Portugal (coming soon). The Netherlands.

Luxembourg. France. Denmark. Belgium.

Northern Germany.

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