Why Aldi’s new checkouts have sparked heated debate

Aldi customers may have spotted some changes at the checkouts recently, but not everyone is happy with them.

Known for their efficient checkout system, some shoppers were surprised to see Aldi start trialing self-serve checkouts across 10 of their NSW stores, including the Darlinghurst store in Sydney.

However, since the budget supermarket introduced the trial less than a month ago, they’ve already come under criticism from customers.

In a recent Facebook post, one customer shared the new look checkout with some Aldi shoppers quick to comment that they aren’t impressed.

Aldi customers have had mixed reactions to their new self-service checkouts. Source: Supplied
Aldi customers have had mixed reactions to their new self-service checkouts. Source: Supplied

“It’s totally wrong! They take away jobs! It’s bad enough that Aldi (and Coles and Woolies) are selling more imported items instead of making more effort to support Australia, without this too!” one shopper said.

“If they come to my local Aldi I will not be using them!”

Others said the convenience factor wasn’t quite so convenient - especially for Special Buys.

“I only had one item. A 75 inch TV. You should have seen the drama I had trying to scan the bugger!” one shopper said.

Self-serve register at Aldi Australia
Aldi is trialing self-serve cashless registers in 10 NSW stores. Source: Facebook

Meanwhile, those who use cash regularly said they were limited to using the normal checkouts because the self-serve area is card only.

“Just because cashless is an option, doesn’t mean they should take the cash payment option away! Not everyone wants to be cashless!” one customer commented.

Some Aldi shoppers prefer self-service

Despite these limitations, some shoppers welcomed the change, saying it was their preferred way of getting through the checkout.

“How awesome. I prefer self-service. I don't mind Aldi because the checkout is really really quick usually, but self serve is my preferred option,” one customer said.

“Brilliant idea. Beats being stuck behind 4 people with trolleys full of items. When most Aldi stores only have one or maybe a second checkout open,” another said.

Aldi customers in a shopping centre at the Maroubra Junction in Sydney, Australia.
The German supermarket chain decided to trial the self-serve checkouts after stores in the UK introduced them during the Covid-19 pandemic. Source: Getty Images

One former Aldi employee said that steering clear of self-serve checkouts was what set Aldi apart.

“As a former Aldi employee, I can see both sides of the argument. I get that this is where modernisation eventually takes us, but at the same time, not having self serve was one of Aldi’s big points of difference,” another said.

“I’m guessing the trial will be at stores with small average spends but I personally hope it doesn’t work.”

Aldi responds to customers concerns

Aldi Australia Store Operations Director, Robert Eichfeld told Yahoo News Australia that Aldi staff will still have an important role to play at the self-serve checkouts.

"This technology will require store employees to assist, support, and monitor customers’ use of self-checkouts and assist with any issues, rather than working on the register," he said.

"It will also provide them 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."

He added that initial feedback from customers was "overwhelmingly positive".

Aldi sign.
Not all customers are impressed with the supermarket giant's new checkouts. Source: Getty Images

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

"Since Self-Checkouts entered the Australian grocery sector we’ve been watching with keen interest the convenience they provide customers as well as the value and efficiencies they drive for business.

"We anticipate the trial will appeal to our regulars as well as attract new customers, who are purchasing only a few items at a time – and we’ll also be introducing Aldi baskets in all trial stores to aid these small and quick shops."

Once further feedback is collected on the trial, Aldi will look at introducing self-serve checkouts nationally.

Aldi backflips on self-service checkouts

The German supermarket giant unveiled the trial checkouts at the beginning of June after Aldi stores in the UK introduced self-serve checkout to speed up transactions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the move came as a surprise to Aldi Australia shoppers, after the store pledged in 2019 to stay away from self-serve options, focussing instead on the customer service of their check-out operators.

“We currently have no plans to trial stores with self-service checkouts,” an Aldi spokesperson told Yahoo Finance in 2019.

“Feedback has told us that our shoppers prefer face-to-face interactions at registers and that they are an important part of their in-store experience.

“Our current store format enables us to focus on creating the best possible in-store experience while continuing to deliver high-quality products at permanently low prices.”

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