What Aldi Looks Like In Other Countries

If you're obsessed with Aldi, you're definitely not alone. Legions of devoted fans have made this discount grocer with the superior products their go-to for grocery shopping, and it's no wonder. While they keep their prices low, they still make sure every product that hits their shelves is the best it can possibly be. Aldi is the poster child for German efficiency, and that efficiency has allowed them to spread all over the world.

Their multi-billion dollar push into the United States comes only after they've already been well-established in numerous countries across Europe and Asia. They've even made it into the Land Down Under, and every time they set up in another country, they're not just pushing one standard business model. They take their time, do their market research, and figure out what's going to work first.

That's led to some wildly different business models. Even if you hit your local Aldi every week, you'd still be shocked to find it's pretty different in other countries. How different? Let's talk international Aldi.

Italy: An all-Italian wine cellar

Aldi didn't come to Italy until 2018, with the opening of an inaugural store not far from the Swiss border. They only took the plunge after two years of market research into how to best appeal to the notoriously refined tastes of the Italian market, and while the 45 stores are going to take some time to get up and running, Handelsblatt Global did give a sneak peek into what Italian Aldi is going to look like... and it's pretty incredible.

In order to cater to Italian tastes, 75 percent of Aldi's offerings will be sourced from Italy, and they're going to focus on produce. Each Aldi is going to have a gourmet section filled with things like fresh bread and everything else you can imagine from an Italian bakery. Every store is also going to have a coffee bar where customers can pick up a cappuccino to drink there and beans to take home, catering to Italian customers' tendency to mingle, chat, and take their time when they're shopping.

Oh, and did we mention they're all going to have wine cellars, too? The Local says each store will be fully stocked with a selection of Italian wines of all sorts.

Germany: Taking on gas stations

Any time Aldi enters a market with designs on carving out a section for themselves, there's some major upheaval. Other, more mainstream grocery stores get worried, and in Germany, Aldi started worrying a whole other industry in 2017: gas stations.

According to Handelsblatt Global, Aldi Sud started with around 12 automated service stations scattered across southern Germany. The success of those would be followed with around 300 more discount gas stations across the country — an expansion that would cost Aldi somewhere around $140 million. The move is a direct shot at fuel giants like Shell — so are they worried? Experts say they should be.

Lebensmittel Zeitung reported the unmanned stations were going to be opened right in Aldi Sud's parking lots, next to existing stores. It's not even their first throw-down with gas giants: They also operate 79 unmanned stations in Austria in partnership with Austrian Aldi branch Hofer. They're called Diskont, and while drivers of conventional cars can gas up there, Aldi Sud is also installing a series of free e-charging stations for their environmentally-minded customers.

Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands: Aldi mobile

Have you looked at your family's phone bill lately? Insane, right? If you lived in Germany, Australia, or the Netherlands, you could have Aldi help cut your costs there, too.

They've won a ton of awards for being among the best bargains for mobile cell plans, and it's really no wonder. Let's talk AldiMobile, Australia's version of the plan. Their Jumbo Value Pack costs $55 Australian dollars a month, and that's around $40 USD. What do you get? At least 22GB of data, unlimited international calling, international roaming, and data rollover. Seriously, what more do you need?

In case you're not already feeling bad about your own phone bill, let's say you have a family member who only uses their phone a minimal amount. Say, Grandma. She only has a cell in case of emergencies, but you're still paying a mint. Aldi Netherlands has a perfectly serviceable plan for Grootmoeder, and it'd only cost you around $5 a month.

China: Aldi online

Aldi looks very, very different in China, and that's because they started entirely online. In 2017, Lebensmittel Zeitung reported on a massive fashion show — complete with a dinner table-themed catwalk — Aldi held to kick off the opening of their online store.

It makes sense, too. China has the largest e-commerce network in the world, but they also have a major gap in services they have access to. It's a gap Aldi is perfectly suited to fill, and that's offering high-quality international imports. So, that's what they focused on offering mostly things like organic food, breakfast foods, snacks, and wine. (Why a fashion show? To showcase the quality of their exclusive brands.)

Around a year after Aldi made their online debut, RetailDetail reported they were going brick-and-mortar. As of March 2018, there were plans in the works to open at least 50 stores. What those stores look like remains to be seen, but it's likely they'll be specially catering to the Chinese market, as Aldi's country manger Christoph Schwaiger says they did by kicking off their foray into China as online-only.

Germany: Bread machines and a bakery section

Aldi Germany's bakeries are nothing short of incredible. They're called Meine Backwelt, and according to the European Supermarket Magazine, the bakeries debuted in Aldi Sud. (Aldi Sud is the Aldi that's in the US, so it makes sense that Real Simple says there just might be these sorts of bakeries appearing in American stores, too.) Three years of testing preceded the German release, and these aren't your ordinary bakeries. We're talking about more than 40 different types of baked goods, from fresh bread (that customers can cut before they leave) and rolls to croissants, muffins, chocolate rolls, and... well, every kind of deliciousness you'd expect from a real German bakery.

It's a bit ironic, because Aldi Germany has gotten into some hot water with the German Baker's Confederation, who took issue with the 1,770-odd instant bread machines Aldi installed in their stores a few years ago. PlanetRetail RNG says there have been some unforeseen problems with those machines — like people not buying what they order — so it's possible these more traditional bakeries are the way of the future for both countries.

Spain: It's even cheaper

Sure, Aldi has a reputation as being one of the most affordable options out there when it comes to grocery stores, but head to Spain and you'll find they're even cheaper than you're used to. According to The Olive Press, a price comparison between Aldi in Spain and Aldi in other European nations — like the UK, Germany, and France — found that Spain was not only the cheapest, but the cheapest by a lot.

Let's take some of the findings. Shoppers looked at groceries that form the basis of a small, weekly shop. In London, the basket cost €56 (once adjusted from pounds), and that's the equivalent of around $65. Not bad, right? The same exact basket in Spain cost €28, or $33. That's half the price! Individual products were cheaper by far, too (with the weird exception of carrots). Six bottles of beer will only set you back €1.48 in Spain and yes, that's around $1.50. From fruits and vegetables to wine and spirits, it's all ridiculously cheap in Spain's Aldi, and surely, there has to be a trade-off, right? They say it's difficult to find free-range chickens.

Switzerland: Recycling centers

It's no secret that garbage is becoming a huge problem for the whole world, and many places are making massive strides toward becoming more environmentally friendly. That includes things like minimizing waste, and it also includes making recycling more convenient for everyone.

Aldi made some serious strides in the right direction in 2016, when they became the first major retailer in Switzerland set up to collect and recycle plastics. After a roll-out in eastern Switzerland and Zurich, all 185 Aldi locations in the country had recycling centers by the end of 2017. We're talking about collection points not just for Aldi products, but for any drink cartons and plastic PET bottles.

It has the potential to be huge for the Swiss market, as surveys found 89 percent of Swiss would recycle if they had access to the proper facilities. So, Aldi helped give it to them, and that's just one more step toward becoming environmentally friendly from the store that also refuses to stock or sell any products grown with pesticides harmful to bees.

Europe: eReaders, eBooks, and digital music

According to The Digital Reader, Aldi's foray into the world of eReaders and eBooks started in 2010 with the first release  of their annual Aldi-branded eReaders. In 2016, they were going even farther with Aldi Life eBooks, a digital service available on their eReaders or via an Android app. When the service first started, it was with just a "few" titles — somewhere around a million.

Not surprisingly, the eReaders are super-affordable, with 2016's 6-inch, 4GB, touchscreen Onyx costing only €79, or around $90. Thanks to the app, European customers can opt to read books on their Android devices or PC, too, and they can also do it while listening to music streaming from Aldi's other digital media service. Aldi Life Musik is powered by a name that should sound familiar to anyone who downloaded music at any point in the 1990s: Napster. Only €7.99 (or around $10) a month gives customers access to 40 million songs, while eBook prices range from €5 to €10.99 ($6 to $13).

Ireland: Donating unsold food

Head to Ireland, and you might find Aldi stores that don't look too different from their US counterparts. But it's what's going on behind the scenes that's truly incredible, because they've partnered with the Ireland- and UK-based charity FoodCloud.

FoodCloud was founded in Ireland and is striving to reduce food waste and get unsold food into the hands of people who need it most. When their retail partners — like Aldi — have merchandise on their shelves they can't sell, they scan the products into an app. FoodCloud collects the merchandise, and redistributes it to organizations like homeless shelters, hostels, and family support services.

Aldi's partnership with them started in May 2016, and by November, the 79 participating locations had already donated 500,000 meals to charities like the Irish Wheelchair Association Sligo and Drogheda Homeless Aid. By July 2017, one store — Ballincollig — hit the milestone of having donated 25,000 meals, with all food staying in the community and going to local charities.

Australia: Ski and snow gear

What, you don't think of snow and skiing when you think of Australia? You should, and then you should think of Aldi. According to Aldi Australia CEO Tom Daunt, Aldi is actually the country's biggest ski supply retailer... and not because no one else is doing it.

Every year, Aldi kicks off the winter season with a massive sale on snow and ski gear. It happens in the final days of May, and thousands and thousands of people show up to stock up on their winter gear. It's no wonder — for example, they always have a huge stock of ski jackets and trousers that sell for anywhere from $400 to $1200 at a specialty ski store. At Aldi, the same thing will run you $30 for kids' sizes, and $70 for adult gear.

That's insane, and it's no wonder it's become an annual tradition since it kicked off in 2008. It's bigger than Christmas and more popular than Easter, has people lining up down the street with a Black Friday-style sale madness, and it's pushed Aldi to the top of what's a $2 billion-a-year industry.

Australia: Home delivery for your liquor needs

Part of Aldi's global strategy is tailoring their stores and their business plans to each market, after finding out what people want in each country they open their doors in. When it came to Australia, they found it was the perfect place to set up an online liquor store and deliver right to customers' homes... well, almost perfect. Aldi closed the service in 2016, but it's an idea that looks so strange to American sensibilities that it's worth talking about.

So, why did it fail? According to News.com.au, Aldi's online liquor store closed because they were spreading further out into the south and west of Australia and wanted to concentrate more on in-store sales. It's also possible their competition had something to do with it. Aldi isn't the only one who dabbled in home-delivery alcohol in Australia, and in the last half of 2016, Woolworths did an admirable $4.4 billion in liquor sales. Not even Aldi's award-winning wines were enough to be able to compete with that, but no worries — Aussies can still pick them up in-store.