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Improving the Customer Experience at Aldi

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Since the early days, Aldi BB #:116756 has improved its in-store shopping experience, adding everything from refrigeration for produce and other categories to eye-catching signage.

It still offers a curated product array in many small 12,000-square-foot stores, though new and remodeled locations are 20 percent bigger than its original template with an expanded product line. Regardless of the changes, however, Aldi is trying to stay true to its low-price promise.

Produce and other fresh foods have become a focal point. In 2018, Aldi announced it had expanded its fresh offerings by 40 percent and was working to ensure that 20 percent of the products in every store would be new compared to the year before.

New store layouts include additional refrigeration space for a growing roster of fresh items, ranging from organic meats and gourmet cheeses to salad bowls. Aldi’s expanded fresh produce sections include contemporary offerings like veggie noodles as well as sliced mangos, pineapples, and watermelon.

There are also more vegan and vegetarian offerings and grab-and-go products like single-serve guacamole, organic hummus, fresh fruit and vegetable packs, organic salsa, and gourmet olives.

Organics have been a hot topic and addition to stores. And while Aldi may not be a leader in the segment, Jim Hertel, senior vice president at Inmar Analytics in Winston-Salem, NC, said management realized “this was a potential vulnerability and addressed it—and very well, given the chain’s value proposition.”

Phil Lempert, the Santa Monica, CA-based Supermarket Guru and publisher of The Lempert Report, said Aldi has become much more attuned to consumer trends, citing a single-sourced specialty olive oil and frozen veggie burger made from kale, both private label products, as prime examples.

By “constantly changing to stay ahead of the trends, it puts them out in front,” he said.

Laura Strange, senior vice president of communications and external affairs at the National Grocers Association in Arlington, VA, agrees.

“Given its rapid store expansion, Aldi has emerged as a large competitive force in the United States,” Strange said.

“Consumer shopping patterns have shifted over the past couple years, where shoppers will split their trips, often citing price and convenience as the reason, and Aldi has done a good job of understanding these shifts in behavior.”

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full version.