Aldi has a significant presence in the Eastern States, and is expected to open twenty stores in WA before the end of 2016. The first four – Belmont Forum, Kwinana, Lakeside Joondalup and Mirrabooka Square – will open on June 8th. Aldi’s grand plan for WA is seventy stores in total.
There’s a lot of buzz around Aldi, but what exactly do they bring to the table? I was recently invited to visit one of Aldi’s Adelaide stores to find out.
Aldi stores in New South Wales and Victoria are very much “old school” supermarkets, however Aldi Perth stores will feature a new well-tested format which has already been rolled out across South Australia.
The aisles are wide and the colours won’t give you a headache. Shelving has been re-designed in line with customer feedback, and each store features energy efficient lighting and chillers.
Something that other supermarkets should take note of is that the layout and location of products is the same in EVERY Aldi store. No more walking up and down looking for the cat food just because you had to make a “quick” stop on the way home.
The big difference – and this may be a deal-breaker for some – is that 90% of products in an Aldi supermarket are proprietary brands. I wasn’t aware of this, and it was a big surprise for me (even more so when it came to trying the products, but more of that later).
The other 10% are brands that consumers won’t give up – Tim Tams, Vegemite and Nutella, for example – but everything else is fair game.
The branding of Aldi’s products looks similar to the market leader in many cases, but there’s nothing sinister going on here. It’s no secret that they’re Aldi’s own brands, and it’s all about product familiarity. The Aldi product line includes over 350 awarded products.
The average large supermarket offers over 20,000 products, but an Aldi contains only 1,350 – so you won’t have to choose between ten varieties of tomato sauce. There’s no loyalty program, no “limited edition” flavours and no fancy marketing displays. You’ll find pricing consistent from week to week, apart from some “seven day deals” – on average, you should expect to save 20-30% across a full grocery shop. The whole Aldi experience is about keeping costs down for the consumer.
Supplier relationships are important to Aldi, and they purchased $80 million of produce from WA suppliers in 2015.
Organic and gluten-free products play a big part in the Aldi product range, but as you can see you’re not paying a huge premium. All items in an Aldi store are free of artificial colours, and some major brands have had to reformulate their products to meet this requirement.
Items are stacked on shelves in the cartons they are delivered in, and even Aldi’s warehouses are organised in the same layout as the stores to make filling delivery vehicles and loading shelves more efficient.
Aldi’s product packaging has been designed so that all the bar codes are in a similar location, and the commitment to process refinement really becomes evident when you watch an Aldi checkout in action – it’s fast.
One Aldi feature you may have heard about is “Special Buys”, which are located in the middle of the store. The same specials are featured in every store nationwide, and it’s likely that Aldi’s weekly catalogue will become your new best friend.
Specials are released every Wednesday and Saturday, with the newest items always positioned towards the back of the store. The latest special could be a TV, toys, skiing equipment or a lawnmower – whatever it is, it’s going to be a bargain. These products aren’t substandard quality, either – you’re witnessing buying power in action.
It’s not all about big items, and I was seriously tempted to stock up on bottles of vanilla extract at less than half what I’d normally pay. Unfortunately, I only traveled with hand luggage!
After the store tour, we went to the Adelaide head-office and took part in a blind taste test of a range of Aldi products, from raisin toast to chocolate, brie and even their version of the Golden Gaytime. These tests are regularly conducted in Aldi offices to ensure that product quality remains consistent in terms of texture, appearance and taste.
The products we tried were compared to the market leaders, and there were only a couple of Aldi ones that didn’t come out in front. More importantly, the pricing of the Aldi version was always less – in some cases nearly 50%. In the few cases where the Aldi product wasn’t as good, the price difference seemed to make it an unfair fight.
Final Perth pricing is yet to be announced, but these photos should give you some indication of what to expect. Other supermarkets have good reason to fear Aldi’s entry into the market.
Aldi have their own range of pod coffee machines – the pods are $0.39 each.
Being a self-confessed brand junkie, shopping at Aldi might make my groceries a little less exciting, but it will take away the temptation to buy something new just because it’s there. More importantly, I’m certain that I’ll be saving a substantial amount on my weekly shop. I’m also looking forward to doing some of my own brand comparison testing – stay tuned for that.
See below for more photos from my Adelaide store visit.
Disclaimer: I travelled to Adelaide as a guest of Aldi, and was provided with flights and accommodation.