Aldi History, From Small Family Store in Germany to Global Grocery Giant

Estimated read time 2 min read

Aldi is still cutting costs

Aldi store in London

An Aldi Süd store in London, featuring products being sold straight from their delivery boxes.

Grace Dean/Insider

Aldi still operates with the same cost-cutting measures. It sticks largely to private-label products, meaning it can keep prices low by ordering in bulk and spending less on marketing and packaging. Aldi Nord says that 90% of the items its Dutch stores stock are own brand.

Nils Brandes, the coauthor of the book “Bare Essentials: The Aldi Success Story,” previously told Business Insider that Aldi ensures that the quality of its own-brand products are “at least as good as the quality of the commercial brands.” The company has said that one in three of its Aldi-exclusive branded products that’s nationally distributed in the US, excluding produce, have won awards. In the US, Aldi’s brands include Specially Selected and Simply Nature.

As well as the aisles being filled with mainly own-brand products, shoppers may be surprised to discover the range of products is quite limited, too. Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd both say their German stores carry only around 1,700 items.

Aldi also sells products straight from the shipping pallets they’re delivered in, keeps its stores compact to maximize efficiency, and avoids what it deems unnecessary services like banking and pharmacies. Customers have to pack their own bags and insert a quarter if they want to use a shopping cart.

“This 25 cent deposit ultimately saves our customers money because we don’t have to hire extra staff to collect grocery carts,” Aldi says. “To unlock a cart, customers have to insert a quarter, and this deposit ensures shoppers return their cart to the corral to get their quarter back.”

For super fans, though, Aldi is perhaps best-known for its range of time-limited products, creating a “treasure hunt” for shoppers. The items – known as Aldi Finds in the US – can range from food, housewares, clothes, and seasonal items to gardening equipment, electronics, and pet accessories, and encourage shoppers to visit regular to see what that week’s bargains are.