Aldi China: first look inside the Shanghai stores

Maxime Delacour
Senior Retail Analyst

Date : 07 June 2019

On 7 June, Aldi Süd opened its first two physical stores in Shanghai, China. The stores present a completely different and very premium look and feel compared to its stores in Europe and US. They also offer services that are not usually seen at discounters, such as counters and a scan and go payment solution.

Very premium look and feel

Source: Aldi China

Aldi has decided to use a very different and premium design compared to its traditional look and feel globally. Overall it offers a shopping experience closer to a supermarket than a discounter. The stores present a smart ambiance thanks to modern graphics (artistic design and brick walls), combined with bright lighting and wood materials.

Source: Aldi China

The low fixtures enable shoppers to see through the store and improves the shopping experience. The use of shelf-ready packaging is very limited with most products displayed outside of their boxes. Finally, electronic price tags are used, aligned with the stores’ more premium and modern experience.

Reduced range and differentiating offer

Source: Aldi China

According to Aldi, products have been carefully selected to meet local shopper needs. The range has been carefully curated to offer 1,300 products across 15 categories. Fresh produce, dairy and meat are mainly sourced in China. The retailer offers some private labels exclusive to China alongside many other European-imported products, such as wine and beer.

Source: Aldi China


Checkout-free store

Shoppers can scan their articles on the go and pay via the WeChat mini-program before leaving the store. To encourage shoppers to use the app, the stores only have a limited number of checkouts. It shows the capacity of Aldi to adapt and evolve its concept to meet shoppers’ expectations. It’s a very interesting move for Aldi from a European perspective as queues at tills are usually the downside of the shopping journey.

Source: IGD Research

Shoppers can access specific offers and benefits by becoming an Aldi member. Lidl already offers this service in selected countries, but this is new for Aldi. It shows the retailer’s strategy to collect shopper data, which will help it improve its concept in China.

Source: Aldi China

With these first two stores, Aldi shows its intention to move away from its traditional format and offer a more premium experience to Chinese consumers. The stores blend supermarket and food-to-go offers with very few remaining elements of a discounter. In terms of price positioning, Aldi is committed to guarantee everyday value to shoppers.

As mentioned previously, several western retailers have tried to enter China but did not succeed. It will be interesting to see how Aldi performs in the next few months and what learnings it could bring to other markets.

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