Designed for Purpose – Aldi Supermarket – Assessment Item 2



Exterior view of Aldi supermarket with large sign


Ample car parking is available directly outside the supermarket. About one third of the car park is covered in shade cloth. The trolley bay is just outside the supermarket and is sheltered with a roof. Trolleys are secured and require a coin or token to use.

The entry is via an ‘in’ door with a double door system. It prevents shoppers from exiting without going past the cash registers. An alarm sounds if someone tries to exit through the in door.

Like most supermarkets the lighting is very bright and the temperature is moderate. The aisles are wide enough for two trolleys to pass. In some areas shoppers have to wait before they can pass another shopper or get to a particular item. Facial expressions on some shoppers indicate patience or impatience. Some shoppers excuse themselves so they can reach an item near another shopper. Announcements requesting a staff member or announcing the opening or closing of a register can be heard. Shoppers in pairs or groups talk to each other. Children make most of the louder noises or sometimes a parent disciplining a child.

Most items are contained in boxes or on pallets that serve as shelves. Large wire containers hold clothing and household items in the centre of the store. These containers range from organised to messy. Some shoppers sift through items contained within, while others ignore them and pass by quickly. Electronic goods and  items of higher cost than grocery items are enclosed in a glass display case so a staff member must assist with their retrieval. Prices are displayed above all items with bold black text on yellow or red tickets. The red tickets distinguish items that have a special price or that are available for a limited time. Signage hangs from the ceiling for promotion.

The cash registers have a long conveyor belt where customers place their goods and they use dividers to separate their goods from those of the next customer.There are many small items above the conveyor belt. Staff at the registers scan the items very quickly.  There is only a small bench to place goods on once they are scanned. Customers need to be quick at retrieving their goods from the staff member. Customers load their goods into their own shopping bags or trolley. Some struggle to keep up to the pace of the staff member on the register and have trouble getting their money or card ready to pay while packing their bag or trolley. The EFTPOS/credit card keypad faces the customer and the staff member provides verbal instructions and only assists if the customer is unable to follow the verbal instructions. Customers who are slow at paying and packing their goods are sometimes pressured to hurry along by the body language of the next customer in the queue or by the speed of the staff member at the register. About three steps from the register there is a long bench that provides a space for customers to organise and pack their shopping into bags.

For a selection of images visit my Flickr album. Images have also been added to the INF536 Flickr group.


Sketch of Aldi floorplan. Not to scale.

Blogs I have commented on:

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4 Comments on Designed for Purpose – Aldi Supermarket – Assessment Item 2

  1. Lora CBR
    August 7, 2015 at 8:22 am (6 years ago)

    It would be interesting to contrast an observation in Aldi compared to Woolworths or Coles, how do people shop, spend time browsing, what type of items do they stop and look most often or for the longest, customer types by age or gender. Shopping is such a busy activity, we all need to do it, your observations show both common feelings and experience of shopping, and what it would be like particularly in Aldi.

      August 10, 2015 at 5:02 am (6 years ago)

      Hi Lora, thank you for your comment. From now on I will be noticing a great deal more when I shop at any supermarket.

  2. Kath Ellis
    August 8, 2015 at 12:22 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Karen. I’m not an Aldi shopper, but when I have been in there, and reflecting on it after reading your post, it’s almost like they have stripped supermarket design back to it’s bare bones. No real shelving, organised in to visually appealing sections, but large shelves containing produce in their orginal bulk boxes which are then cut down the side, or along perforated lines to allow accessibility. Then the checkouts, that are very minimal, very long, and almost asking the customer to organise themselves. You can always spot the seasoned Aldi shopper with their bags, and the stealthy way they pack their groceries as the checkout operator scans them. When I do occasionally shop there, it makes me anxious thinking I’ll be called out as the fair-weather friend who only turns up when they need something because I didn’t bring my own bag or pack my purchases quick enough.
    This then brings me to compare Aldi to the larger supermarket chains who seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Fresh food sections that look like modern day Farmer’s Markets, shop assistants dressed in a particular uniform to correspond to the area they are working in, and the popularity of the self service areas. This flies in the face of what Michael Schrage (2013) talks about in his blog as design based on parody. It is almost as if Aldi have their supermarket design and customer experience plan and they are sticking to it, despite what their other larger competitors are doing. Regardless, it still scares me!


    Schrage, M. (2013, February 13). How parody inspires great design, Harvard Business Review Blog: Retrieved from:

    August 10, 2015 at 5:09 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for the comment Kath. Even as a seasoned Aldi shopper I still get anxious that I am not fast enough at the register. Usually it is because I am trying to juggle packing my bag or trolley and getting my cash ready to pay. I can see some areas for improvement in this area that Aldi could make if they applied design thinking and empathised with the customer.