Aldi insider spills the beans on why its prices are so cheap
Discounter Aldi has been crowned Britain’s best supermarket at a prestigious awards cememony.
The grocer, famed for its cut price wines and cheap fruit and veg, fought off stiff competition from the likes of Lidl and the ‘big four’ – to be crowned the nations number one.
It comes after Aldi overtook the Co-Op to become Britain’s fifth biggest supermarket by market share, following a mammoth rollout programme, that started four years ago.
Today, it attracts millions of shoppers each week – and is famed for not just cheap produce but also its speedy checkouts as shoppers clamour for £5 Aberdeen Angus steaks and £3 nappies.
But have you ever wondered how Aldi is able to keep its prices so low?
Armed with these questions, and many more, our sister title, the Coventry Telegraph took a trip to Aldi’s headquarters in Atherstone, to find out the insider secrets on how the supermarket does it.
1. Smaller choice = bigger discounts
Ever noticed that Aldi only stocks one brand of tomato ketchup?
This is the same across the store.
Whilst you might have different flavour pizzas and a variety of colours of toilet rolls, there will most probably be just one brand for each item.
"Most of our stores will have a maximum of 2,000 carefully curated products depending on the time of year," said communications director Mary Dunn, who has worked for Aldi for 15 years.
"At other supermarkets, you can expect to find 40,000 products.
"This is because they’ll offer a range of several different brands for every product.
"This difference of 38,000 products allows us be extraordinarily efficient in the way we are able to purchase products.
"We can buy a lot and sell of these 2,000 products and have really good relationships with suppliers as a result."
2. Super fast check out tills
Struggle to keep up with the cashier whizzing your items through at the till? This is because they don’t have to search for the barcodes on products.
There are multiple barcodes wrapped around every product sold in Aldi, which equates to faster checkout times.
3. Staff muck in with all jobs on the shop floor
Because the tills are so whizzy, staff are encouraged to jump off their till as soon as there is no queue and get busy restocking shelves or cleaning.
"Many supermarkets have around 100 employees but we only have 30 to 40 in each store," said Mary.
"So a member of staff might be filling up carrier bags at the till, then jump on the till when people are waiting, close it when they’re not and start cleaning.
"Everyone mucks in and does everything.
"Other supermarkets might have a product manager to look after a certain area. Here everyone is trained to know how to replenish and look after all areas."
4. Shelf ready packaging
The secret to cost-cutting at Aldi is making everything as time efficient as possible.
So, all the products arrive in shelf ready packaging, which means it can be taken directly from the lorry onto the shelf.
Other supermarkets tend to unload the products and wheel them out onto the shop floor where a member of staff neatly stacks them on the shelf.
Aldi’s method saves a lot of time and so reduces the need for so many staff.
"Bigger products, like dog food and toilet roll, go straight onto the shop floor on the pallet," said Mary.
"It takes 30 seconds to change a pallet, which will include 198 products.
"This means we don’t need 100 members of staff on the shop floor."
5. No loyalty cards or BOGOFs
There are no loyalty cards or "buy-one-get-one-free" deals at Aldi – and no plans to introduce them either.
"We’re committed to offering the lowest price for the best quality products every single day.
"We don’t need to do anything else."
Instead, Aldi offers Special Buys on anything from electricals and clothes to gel nails and toys every Thursday and Sunday.
It also offers a Super 6 deal where you can buy six seasonal fruit and veg at a reduced price.
Check out the latest Special Buys here .
6. Super organised lorries
Just like the packaging, everything is ordered on the lorry to go into certain sections of the store – again to save time.
"The layout of our big distribution centre is the same as our store flow," said Mary, who worked as a logistics director for nine years.
"So when a lorry comes in, all the products are on pallets that go together.
"It’s simple and it seems quite obvious but it’s not done everywhere."
7. Limited warehouse space
Each store has a warehouse for storing items – but it’s much smaller than you might think.
"This is because we want all our stock on the shop floor rather than in the warehouse," said Mary.
8. No mega stores
You’ll not find an Aldi mega store – and there are no plans to create one in the future.
It goes against the Aldi business plan, which is to stock a limited number of products and have a smaller number of employers to keep the costs down for customers.
9. 95% own label brands
Unlike other supermarkets, most of what is sold at Aldi is its own stock.
"We work with suppliers to put our own label on products that are as good, if not better, than the most popular branded products sold in other supermarkets," said Mary, who came to Aldi via the graduate programme, which involved doing a stint packing shelves, cleaning and running the tills in a store..
"Everyone sells Heinz, and Heinz wouldn’t want Tesco to sell it much cheaper than Sainsbury’s.
"But because we have our own version of the product we can set our own price, making sure it’s the right price for our customers.
"We recognise that some iconic brands, like Marmite and Coca-Cola, have such high popularity that customers will want them.
"But we do sell our own versions alongside them."
Even the Special Buys are made specifically for Aldi and packaged accordingly.
10. No clearance section
Ever wondered why there’s not a clearance section full of items close to their best before date in Aldi?
"Wastage is limited – that’s one of our KPIs (key performance indicators)," said Mary.
"We don’t want to be putting items in the bin, it’s a waste for suppliers and for the store.
"So there’s not much waste at all, which is why you don’t see a clearance section.
"We are trialing using reduced stickers on some fresh products that are near their use by date. You may spot them in their existing sections rather than a clearance counter."
11. No grocery home deliveries
Aldi is one of the few supermarkets which doesn’t offer home delivery on its groceries – and supermarket bosses have no plans to introduce this.
"No-one does home delivery in a cost-efficient way," said Mary.
"We understand there is a place for grocery deliveries but we have no current plans to introduce it.
"You can order Special Buys and wine online and have them delivered."
12. No staff discounts
"There are no staff discounts as this would impact on the price for customers," said Mary.
"We offer the market leading rates for pay and benefits.
"In house benefits to working at Aldi include a healthy pension, training programmes and discounts at cinemas and gyms.
"There’s an apprenticeship programme so you can go from working on the shop floor to becoming a store manager."
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