I’ve taught coupon classes for around 5 years now. And while much of the focus is on using coupons in stores, the bigger picture is learning how to save money on groceries. I understand that coupons may not be the answer in every case – and that’s a large part of the reason I recommend finding an ALDI store near you. In our household, we shop ALDI weekly to save on produce, milk and items we can’t find on sale elsewhere. I do my best to highlight ALDI and what the store is about in my presentation – and often remark that I wish I could take everyone there on a field trip to show them the store in action.
It’s a wish that hasn’t been possible. Until now. This July, ALDI accepted my request for a local “field trip” of sorts. This rare corporate-led tour allowed for 15 people to attend during store hours – and those who were selected were quite impressed by what they learned!
I know that many more people wanted to be part of the fun, so I have summarized the main ideas of the tour in this post. Come along with me inside an ALDI store tour!
Inside an ALDI Store Tour
We start outside, where we’re joined by Ryan Fritsch (Webberville, MI Division Vice President), Tricia Snider (Director of Operations) and Mitch Hall (District Manager). ALDI currently runs more than 1,300 store locations spanning across 32 states. New stores open each year, and next year ALDI stores will open in California for the first time. After brief introductions, we head to the ALDI cart area.
Carts are available for your shopping convenience – at no cost to you. However, each cart is outfitted with a chain that is released when you insert a quarter. This is only a short-term deposit, and you will get that very same quarter back when you return your cart to this area. This small step means that ALDI does not need to pay someone to fetch your cart from the parking lot, and it reduces the chance that your vehicle will be damaged by a runaway cart.
The ALDI Philosophy
As we head into the store, we learn more about the ALDI philosophy. Words like efficiency, quality and value are mentioned in almost every explanation of what ALDI operates the way it does. Every aspect of the store’s operation and product line is well thought out. Nothing is overlooked – from employees to suppliers to the way items are packaged and stocked. With a strong commitment towards an efficient approach in everything – ALDI is able to offer the highest quality products at the lowest cost. Our corporate tour guides share this passion, and their excitement is contagious.
The basic idea? ALDI generates savings for its customers through a low-overhead, focused approach that includes:
- Volume purchasing: By concentrating its full buying power on 1,300 of the most commonly purchased grocery items in the most common size, ALDI secures noteworthy discounts.
- Exclusive products: More than 90 percent of products at ALDI are their own exclusive store brands rather than national brands. And they stand behind them all the way. Don’t miss their Double Guarantee!
- No hidden costs: ALDI has a streamlined approach that considers every cost of store operation – including electricity, store bags, credit card fees, you name it. The goal is always to keep prices low and pass that savings along to the customer without sacrificing quality.
ALDI Store Brands
ALDI works with suppliers to create unique store brands, standard varieties of the items that people shop for most. You won’t find every variety of spaghetti sauce on the shelf, but you can choose from 2-3 popular flavors, for example.
Don’t let the store brands scare you away. Making sure these brands measure up is a business that ALDI takes very seriously.
- In the ALDI Test Kitchen, ALDI uses blind taste testing to make sure products meet or exceed the quality, taste and appearance of national name brands. Each product is tested at least twice each year!
- All ALDI food products are backed by the DOUBLE GUARANTEE:
If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with any ALDI food product, ALDI will gladly replace the product AND refund the purchase price.
- All of the buyers and manufacturers are expected to improve the nutritional profile of these products – which brings some exciting improvements this year:
As part of our dedication to the well-being of our customers, we are committed to removing partially hydrogenated oils (also known as trans-fat), certified synthetic colors and added MSG from our exclusive brand food products by the end of 2015. This decision delivers on our ongoing commitment to meet the evolving preferences of our customers.
— Ryan Fritsch, ALDI Webberville division vice president
ALDI Products: Honorable Mentions
While we certainly weren’t able to talk about all of the 1,300+ products that ALDI stocks, there were quite a few that were worth pointing out, for one reason or another. Look for these items the next time you shop:
- Moser-Roth Chocolates (and other tasty German-made varieties)
These international chocolates are a customer favorite!
- Winking Owl Wines
These wines start at $2.89 and are a favorite to use in cooking. You’ll also find a variety of very affordable, quality wines. Check out the educational labels!
- Benton’s Caramel Coconut Fudge Cookies
A B2B reader favorite, this product also won a Better Homes & Gardens award this year!
- Baker’s Corner Baking Morsels in white, semi-sweet or milk chocolate or butterscotch
Not only are these chips reasonably priced for baking, they’re also nut-free (a must for any allergy family).
- SimplyNature Organic Coconut Oil
Unrefined, cold-pressed organic virgin coconut oil for only $4.99 (14 oz)!
- PurAqua Purified Water, case of 24
Always a low price on waterbottles – prices start at $1.99 per case.
- L’Oven Fresh Breads
Made with no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors.
- liveGfree Gluten Free products
You’ll find these pantry and frozen items throughout the store. Gluten free items can be some of the most expensive specialty items, but prices are much better at ALDI!
- ALDI Cheeses
High quality cheeses from Havarti to goat cheese with prices you can’t beat.
Each week in the store ad, ALDI features Produce Picks of the week. These prices are some of the lowest anywhere (you’ll see them appear often on the local fresh food price chart) – $0.69 mushrooms or baby carrots, $0.79 grape tomatoes, $2.99 seedless watermelon and more.
ALDI stores do not use produce scales – it can slow down an efficient checkout process, after all. You’ll find items either already bagged or packaged (including bananas, grapes, apples, kiwi) or sold individually (plums, peaches, limes, cucumbers). You’ll still be able to calculate a per-pound price easily.
The focus is on fresh, quality produce – locally-sourced, whenever possible. I learned that produce is delivered each day to ALDI to keep the selection fresh – and all produce items that should be chilled are stored in coolers each night, then brought back out the next morning. I spotted familiar name brands in the produce section – Dole, Sunkist, Del Monte, Tanimura & Antle, to name a few. I was also impressed by the thorough produce testing ALDI does in the warehouse before any produce item is delivered to their stores.
ALDI teams up with top growers throughout the United States, including local growers, to provide the freshest produce possible. We currently carry nearly 70 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables. We’ve increased our range, emphasized presentation and freshness and – as always – sustained the lowest prices. Our Double Guarantee is unique in the marketplace and applies to all products, including produce. Our Quality Control Program at the Webberville warehouse ensures produce quality meets our standards on a daily basis. A dedicated group of people who have been trained on identifying quality though product cutting and testing work to assure appropriate firmness in apples, measure sweetness in strawberries and sizing in grapes.
— Ryan Fritsch, ALDI Webberville division vice president
Even the checkout is designed for efficiency as well as saving money and time. Take a look at any ALDI product box and you’ll notice it includes a bar code on almost every surface, ensuring that the cashier can scan it quickly the first time. ALDI accepts cash, credit, debit or Bridge cards. And there’s no need to juggle coupons, since manufacturer coupons aren’t accepted at ALDI. ALDI exclusive brands already cost up to 50 percent less than national brands and ALDI has everyday low prices.
After scanning each item, your cashier will return it to your cart. Pay for your order, then you can move your cart to the counter area and bag it the way you like. That means no squished loaves of bread – unless, of course, you like them that way!
What did B2B readers think of the tour?
Most of the Bargains to Bounty readers on the tour had been reluctant to shop ALDI for one reason or another. Their comments (shared on Facebook) after learning about the store and products showed a big change in thinking! Give ALDI a try and you may be next!
- Well, I am officially an ALDI shopper! I have always wanted to check it out but never did! It’s amazing what this store has to offer. Plus the prices are outstanding! Our tour guides were very in depth and valued the business! I love how ALDI takes care of their employees and wants the best products and prices for their customers! I can’t wait to go shopping and stock up on the great deals! ?
- I loved learning the business metrics of ALDI. That was so neat to see the various subtle ways they cut expenses but still ensure a good shopping experience for the customers.
- It was my first time in an ALDI and I’m grateful for the tour. I appreciate all the cost savings they do as a business without raising prices for the customer. Also impressed with the cleanliness of the store and organization of the stock rooms. And that they sent corporate to do the tour…that in itself is impressive and speaks to the integrity of their business.
- I loved it. I will be shopping there without a doubt. So clean and I love how it is a grocery store that I feel like I can be done shopping within a half hour. I feel like I’m at the larger stores forever!
- I was shocked to see such fresh fruit and veggies and meat. I am converted! I can’t wait to shop ALDI next week!
Disclosure: I have not been reimbursed for this post. Facts shown above were shared on the ALDI store tour and can be officially found on the ALDI website. Any opinions shared are entirely my own, as a result of being a loyal ALDI shopper who values saving money. I have been shopping ALDI stores since 1997, when I lived on a small budget in the Chicago area. ALDI is also our first stop when we reach our vacation destination, which means I’ve now shopped dozens of different locations in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Germany.