Format evolution is everything. Just ask Aldi

Dive Brief:

  • Aldi’s newer U.S. stores, redesigned in anticipation of competition, are different from the company’s early entries into the American grocery market, but still have some vestiges of their old format, according to a commentary from Brick Meets Click.

  • Wide aisles, a huge wine and beer section up front, a large produce section, and frozen sections with doors in the new formats have impressed shoppers.

  •  Original Aldi stores were built for efficiency, not shopping experience, offering only about 700 items — mostly dry groceries moved directly from the truck to the display floor on full pallets. Prices rarely changed and labor costs stayed low because everyone in the store did stocking and checked out customers — even managers.

But those issues aside, the company has created an interesting shopping experience from the way merchandise is laid out — some in pallet-loads — what it’s laid out on — a lot of warehouse-style shelving is to be seen — and product stacks low enough that shoppers can view much of the store from wall to wall as they load their carts.

Aldi isn’t the only store that’s undergoing serious cosmetic work. As today’s consumers are looking for immersive grocery shopping “experiences” and better selections, many store chains are revamping and redesigning their interiors. These range from Food Lion to Coborn’s to Winn-Dixie, and the upgrades are doing everything from revamping produce displays to adding high-end food service options. These trends are taking off to make grocery stores more interesting community centers and less utilitarian places to do chores.

Aldi, which entered the U.S. market as a no-frills deep discounter, has expanded its reach into different consumer markets with these renovations. As discounters continue to take center stage, with dollar stores encroaching on grocery stores’ business and German discounter Lidl set to enter the U.S. market, experience is becoming everything for shoppers. Especially now, when shoppers will be able to get both low prices and an enticing layout under one roof at these rock-bottom retailers.


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