Aldi's new checkout feature solves common shopper frustration

Aldi shoppers have gushed over the discount supermarket's landmark decision to trial self-service checkouts in a handful of stores.

Yahoo News Australia revealed on Wednesday Aldi has begun its trial at Sydney's Darlinghurst store.

And scores of customers were quick to share their joy over the move, many saying it allowed people with less items to leave the store quickly.

"This is fabulous," one person said on Facebook.

"This is great - the check out experience puts me off going to Aldi," another said.

"Good for people that only want a few things I hate waiting behind trolley loads," one comment read.

Aldi rolled out its self-service checkouts in Darlinghurst on Wednesday. Source: Yahoo News Australia
Aldi rolled out its self-service checkouts in Darlinghurst on Wednesday. Source: Yahoo News Australia

"The checkout experience at Aldi has always been its weakness," one customer claimed.

Another customer said they had already used the checkouts and said it was "smooth and easy".

The fast speed of Aldi checkout staff and the lack of space next to the register has long been a major complaint of shoppers, with the new self-service checkouts allowing shoppers to pack their bags at their own pace.

Many poked fun at the store's current system after hearing of the new trial.

"Can we scan at our own pace or are we timed?" one person joked.

A minority of customers however feared the checkouts would put the jobs of Aldi employees at risk.

However Store Operations Director Robert Eichfeld hinted in a statement staff numbers would not change and the checkouts would provide staff with "more time to focus on creating a quality experience by keeping fresh produce and general stock available and the store clean and well presented".

Yahoo understands one staff member is tasked with manning the checkout stations.

Mr Eichfeld said feedback from the first day of service with the checkouts had been "overwhelmingly positive".

"Shoppers commented that they enjoyed the choice and appreciated the convenience of having a quick and easy option when only shopping for a few items."

Aldi self-service checkouts in operation at the Darlinghurst store. Source: Yahoo News Australia
The Aldi self-service checkouts have been a major hit so far. Source: Yahoo News Australia

Queensland University of Technology's retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer said checkouts at Aldi have long been customers' number one gripe.

"Often one of the biggest criticisms of Aldi is the fact you have to line up and generally only two registers open with regularly long lines so, I think the self-service options will certainly be met with positive responses," he told Yahoo News Australia.

Expert tips Aldi self-serve checkouts will be nationwide

Professor Mortimer said it made sense for the inner-city store on Oxford Street to be the pilot store as most customers would be "rushing in, grabbing a few items and getting out".

Yet he believes the trial will be a success and will lead to a rollout of the checkouts nationwide, a move Mr Eichfeld said was possible.

Aldi will trial the checkouts at 10 NSW stores with the Darlinghurst store being the first. Aldi have not yet confirmed the nine other stores.

Prof Mortimer said the move was clever from Aldi and allowed its competitors to endure the teething period of educating customers on self-serve systems.

"They've adopted a follow-up strategy where they essentially looked at what Coles and Woolworths had done and sort of piggy-backed off that.

But he said Aldi was at risk of losing its differentiation from its competitors, a trait it markets itself on.

"They've come into the market with their own game plan and very different to what we've seen with other supermarkets. But I think what Aldi is now looking at is how do we continue to bring those costs lower and one way of doing that is responding to customers' conception of convenience value," Prof Mortimer said.

Mr Eichfeld said Aldi had been "taking our time" in implementing the checkouts with the introduction contradicting remarks made in 2019 where the supermarket declared it wasn't interested in rolling out the registers.

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