Aldi will be opening in Adelaide in a few months time so get ready for a new shopping experience which will save you money.
A couple of weeks back I was invited to Sydney by Aldi to visit with them and get an idea of what Adelaide shoppers might expect when they open up here early in 2016. I’ve not been coy about my disdain for the supermarket duopoly which exists here in Australia and dictates our grocery choices while keeping producers profits cut to the absolute bone, so I’m not too sad to see another player extending it’s reach and creating more competition, even if it is another supermarket giant. And Aldi is a giant supermarket retailer, make no mistake – with an estimated turnover of well over $100bn it is one of the world’s largest privately owned companies, unlike the other two which are publicly listed and accountable to shareholders.
I know a lot of people are looking forward to having the option to shop in Aldi stores and are curious about what they will be offering. Like many South Australians, I was largely unfamiliar with Aldi stores and their distinct business model so it was a bit of an education to learn how they do things. Their everyday grocery selection includes approximately 1,350 products, around 90% of which are their own private label and hundreds of which are award-winning so – all the products you want and need, but don’t expect to find most of your usual brands there. However, they do recognise that there are some products that Australian shoppers will not substitute so you won’t have to move too far out of your shopping comfort zone.
And don’t think the Aldi products compare to the cheap labels in other stores – Aldi’s commitment to quality means that they will offer exceptional quality at extraordinarily low prices. Many of the grocery lines come at three separate price points, ranging from a budget product, through a standard quality one and up to their premium selections, all of which are at least as good as the market leaders in branded products (and sometimes better, as I found out myself when offered a blind taste test of a selection of their products). As even the premium products are still markedly less expensive than the comparable branded product it’s not hard to see how a saving of anywhere between 30-50% off the normal shopping bill can be achieved.
The products aren’t the only things that are different in Aldi stores. In order to save on labour costs, Aldi don’t stack shelves, but have instead worked on design aspects to package their products in accessible boxes which can be placed straight on store shelves or the floor. There are fewer checkouts than you may be used to, but they work much more efficiently. All of them have extra-sensitive scanners and most of their packaging has more than one bar code so that articles are scanned more quickly. The Aldi conveyor belts are significantly longer than other stores and, in order to make the scanning and payment process speedier, there is no packing done at the checkout. All goods are unloaded from the trolley onto the long conveyor belt and placed straight back into the trolley once scanned. After payment customers head to designated shelves to pack their groceries in bags they have brought from home.
While Aldi are all about saving money, their focus is on quality and putting their efforts into matching consumer expectation – they engineer their products to a quality standard and work out the price subsequent to achieving that. All Aldi meat is Australian grown and MSA (Meat Standards Australia) graded. Their seafood is sustainably sourced, with their entire canned tuna range traced from catchment area to their stores.They always source Australian produce first in all of their core range, use local suppliers wherever possible, were the first of the major chains to sign the produce and grocery code of conduct and work with OzHarvest to limit waste. In addition, Aldi’s complete core range is totally free of artificial food colours.
While many of my readers have the luxury of choice about their weekly grocery shop, the vast majority of consumers don’t, so new players on the supermarket scene must be good for competition. Aldi are on their way and they will make a difference. I hope it will be the two big players who feel the pressure and that South Australia’s Foodland can rely on local loyalties to keep the impact on them to a minimum.
I guess we’ll just have to watch that space.
Lambs’ Ears and Honey was flown to Sydney for the day as a guest of Aldi.