Well, it’s finally happened. After years of development, self-checkout has finally come in full force to Aldi. If you haven’t seen it yet in your store, it’s probably only a matter of time before you do. What began as a pilot project in the United Kingdom and later in Ohio has now steadily spread across the United States.
With the project now in full swing, we decided to ask our writers what they thought about this development. Below are their individual thoughts. Feel free to add your own in the comments; just be mindful of our Community Guidelines.
Like it or not, self-checkout appears to be the way of the future. As the primary shopper for my household, this is evident to me everywhere from CVS to Five Below and even Target. During recent shopping trips, these stores sometimes didn’t have anyone staffing the regular checkout lanes, instead funneling everyone into the (newly remodeled and enlarged) self-checkout lane. Self-checkout has improved, and I get a lot fewer “unidentified item in the bagging area” notifications these days. As an introvert, I don’t mind taking care of things on my own sometimes, including not having to repeatedly turn down a live cashier’s request to sign up for things such as store credit cards.
As Aldi rolls out self-checkout, I’m watching with curiosity. I view it as potentially having some neutral to positive effects on the Aldi shopping experience.
To start, I’m less concerned about it eliminating jobs. This common argument against self-checkout doesn’t always hold up. First, in most cases, we’re talking about lower-paying jobs that (especially these days) are a dime a dozen. Second, stores still need one or two employees to monitor the self-checkout area, which might be similar to how many additional employees they would have at regular checkout lanes if self-checkout didn’t exist. (Because most stores never open all of the regular checkout lanes anyway.) Also, self-checkout can potentially shift employees to other important parts of the store such as stocking shelves, or I often see Aldi employees pushing carts around and filling online orders for curbside pickup.
In terms of positives for customers, I hope self-checkout reduces complaints about cashiers “throwing” or “tossing” delicate items into shopping carts during checkout. This is something I’ve rarely experienced but some people seem to love to grumble about. Self-checkout allows shoppers to pack their eggs and bread just how they want.
I particularly like the idea of ringing up my own groceries because I can make sure nothing gets double scanned. Because Aldi products have multiple bar codes to increase speed at the checkout, sometimes a single product can accidentally get scanned twice. Most of the time, Aldi cashiers are great at noticing this and immediately voiding the extra charge. However, I always double check my receipt before I leave the store. With self-checkout, I can literally take matters into my own hands.
And for those who say they don’t want to “work for free” for a store, did you know that about 100 years ago, customers didn’t retrieve their items off the shelves at grocery stores? That task was for store clerks. But no one these days complains about walking around the store and selecting their own products. We also don’t complain about pumping our own gasoline.
I’m also aware that self-checkout can resolve something the Aldi checkout experience has always lacked, which is an express lane for customers buying only a few things. As a workaround, there has long been an unspoken practice among many Aldi customers to let someone with just a few items go ahead in the line. It’s not required by any means, but it’s a polite gesture I’ve benefited from, and I pay it forward when I can. However, I’ve witnessed heated arguments on Aldi social media fan pages where some customers feel entitled to jump the line and come online to angrily vent if someone didn’t make the offer. Self-checkout could give people one less thing to rant about.
One legitimate area of concern regarding self-checkout is whether it’s user friendly for shoppers who may not be as comfortable using the technology, including older shoppers. My grandparents, most of whom passed away within the last decade, might have struggled to use self-checkout now that more stores are nudging customers toward it. My grandfather probably would have started randomly pressing every button in sight. In this case, I hope that employees would be attentive and helpful especially with elderly customers.
What remains to be seen is how much I’ll personally use self-checkout at Aldi. In my experiences with self-checkout at other stores, it works best when you’re not buying a full cartload of stuff, but I usually have a pretty full cart when I shop at Aldi.
I get why Aldi is doing it. The store has long been about low costs, efficiency, and speed, and on paper self-checkout ticks all of those boxes. It’s certainly cheaper than having extra employees, it lets more employees flex out to the floor to stock and clean, and helps keep an extra lane open than what might be normally. For shoppers carrying just a few items, it might be a boon.
But at the end of the day, I’m still apprehensive. My experiences with self-checkout aren’t always great — I’ve seen those lines be both slow and technically problematic. It might be meant to increase speed, if the store uses it as an excuse to have fewer cashiers on the floor, but it could end up slowing things down more, particularly if workers are tied down troubleshooting self-checkout problems. The technology does seem to have come a long way in recent years, so hopefully what Aldi is using will run smoothly.
Aldi is a smart company, and if their people think self-checkout can coexist with a speedy checkout, maybe it can. But until I see it work for myself, I’m going to have a hard time being a believer.
I have mixed feelings about Aldi’s self-checkout rollout. Self-checkouts are notorious for eliminating retail worker jobs, enabling shoplifting, and creating “unidentified item in the bagging area” headaches for customers. They also work best for customers only buying a handful of items, which isn’t the typical Aldi shopper.
However, my local Aldi could use the relief that self-checkouts might provide.
Although Aldi is known for fast checkouts, this isn’t true at my local store, which consistently has long, slow-moving lines stretching into the aisles. It would also save me time if I could load my groceries directly into my bags instead of schlepping over to the “bagging area” and wrestling my cart into an unnatural parallel parking position to sort and load my items.
So they may be more trouble than they’re worth, overall, but if they are retrofitted into my local Aldi, I’ll give them a try.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments.
I have used this at Walmart many times, but buying multiple items, such as a case of cat food without the ability to multiply a single item scan like a cashier is able to destroys the theory of it.
Imagine scanning the same can 24 or 48 times, or being unable or dishonest enough to enter the wrong quantity. Many times I have seen customers look at the total and have the cashier delete items to bring the total down.
Then, there’s a problem with weight and eligible items for WIC and other programs, expired eligibility, restocking thawing frozen food, etc.
FYI: Aldi does not take WIC. They do, however, take EBT. https://www.aldireviewer.com/does-aldi-take-credit-cards-check-debit-ebt-or-wic/
I normally turn my nose up at self checkout. However, there have been plenty of times when I only needed a few items, but wouldn’t bother stopping if I saw that the store was a mob scene, because I knew that there’d be long checkout lines. Once my local Aldi store installs self check out, that will never be an issue.
Self check out is fine unless you happen to get behind someone who’s not totally there and dottles at the check out completely unaware of the growing line behind them. It’s annoying as hell being behind someone who lacks any self awareness. Plus I’ve seen a number of elderly people who can’t figure out what to do at the kiosk whether it’s scanning their purchases and/or making a payment. Will the Aldi self check out allow the purchase of alcohol?
The line moves so quickly at Aldi that I don’t see the need for it from a shopper’s perspective. That said, I do use it at Lidl and haven’t had many issues with it. But when I do have an issue, I have to wait for a nearby cashier to come over and resolve it when he or she is free since my Lidl rarely has someone dedicated to manning the self-checkout area.
I have used the self checkout almost exclusively and will go out of my way to go to the Aldi w/self checkout. I have used it probably 15 times and have only had 1 problem so far – scanning eggs bc they had just changed the price (more expensive, of course!) – seems to be pretty glitch-free which I cannot say for my other local grocery stores. I absolutely love it!
What you said! I work at another grocery store and their self-checkout system is horrible – very slow and prone to more errors than not.
I’ve used the self-checkout at Aldi a half-dozen times so far and have no complaints – other than I miss having a conveyor belt to load my groceries. I haven’t quite figured out an “ergonomic” way to take items out of my cart, scan them and sack them! I’ll get lots of practice, though, since Aldi is my main grocery store!
PS: Although I get an employee discount at the other grocery store where I work, I rarely buy things there unless they are on sale and better than Aldi prices!
If you’re purchasing wine, self checkout will not work for you, due to purchase age restrictions.
I don’t use self-checkouts or even ATMs anymore (unless a bank is closed).
It’s simply wrong to use devices that take jobs away from people. If Aldi needs more people checked out, they need more staff.
Second, a crappy cashier, it’s not my career, so I don’t do it well and don’t care to learn.
Lastly, if I have to do someone else’s job to buy something, I should be getting an extra discount on what I buy.
Could not agree more.
I’m used to self-checkout by now, but don’t like that if you take more than a couple of seconds to scan the next item the machine tells you to scan the next item, while you’re fishing it from your cart. Over and over again. It’s self-checkout, but at the machine’s tempo? Not ok.
It would be nice to have self-checkout as an option, but gift cards, fresh produce, and such just seem easier for me when there is a live checkout person.
Among the things I love about our Aldi’s is the friendly staff and I will miss that. Twice I checked out at a self service Aldi at another location.
Once the scanner double scanned and the next time AFTER I scanned and bagged EVERYTHING the COUPON would NOT work and I had to RE CHECK OUT at a manned register! I thought then.. I’ll stay with MY ALDI STORE…so if they change to self service.. I DON’T THINK I’LL CONTINUE to shop there!
Aldi very rarely accepts coupons, so I’m not surprised you might have trouble using a coupon at an Aldi self-checkout. Also, keep in mind that Aldi is not switching to all self-checkout. You’ll still have the option to use a regular checkout lane with a cashier.
Aldi occasionally runs $5 off a $35 purchase, so yes, they do offer (their own) coupons. And I’ll continue to use the cashier checkouts unless I have just a few items to buy.
It might depend on where you live, but where I live Aldi primarily only offers coupons to be used at a new store’s opening, and the only way to get coupons like that is to receive them in the mail with an ad. I haven’t received a coupon in an Aldi flyer in years. So again, it’s a very rare instance when people are going to have coupons to use at Aldi. https://www.aldireviewer.com/does-aldi-hand-out-coupons/
I use self-checkout at other stores occasionally if I just have a couple of items and there’s a long line of people at the regular registers with cartfuls of stuff. Self-checkout can be annoying for the reasons mentioned, but still, I like having that option, especially if I’m in a hurry and don’t want to wait at the end of a line when I just have a couple of things to buy.
I am disappointed that my Aldi store in Silver Spring, MD, has gone to mostly self checkout. Except when I have a few items, I find there is not enough room to handle all the groceries. It’s tedious to have to scan items AND bag them, and I really don’t like this change. I LOVE this store and now do most of my grocery shopping there but I do not see self-checkout as customer friendly, and I will use regular checkout when I can.
I’m not a fan of self-checkout in general, as I have regularly encountered technical errors at other grocery stores. However, the Silver Spring Aldi was originally set up with 5 or 6 cashier checkout lanes and I have NEVER seen more than 3 open at a time — usually just 1 or 2 — leading to long lines. My experience since they made the change has been good — their self-checkout devices work smoothly, and since they installed them, there are not those ridiculously long lines extending into the product aisles. Seems like a good pivot on use of the space.
I agree completely and can’t wait until we get self-checkout at the Takoma Langley Park store.
I have used aldi self checkout a few times and I personally prefer it. The difference between using aldi self checkout vs walmart is that at aldi there has always been an aldi employee keeping an eye on how customers were doing checking their items out and very quickly assisting when needed. Walmart normally takes FOREVER to realize when someone is having a problem and fixing it.
I normally use self checkout at other stores because their cashiers are slow and I usually don’t buy more than about 7 items. But I power shop at Aldi. My last 4 visits ranged between 48 and 107 items. I have not seen any of the Aldi self checkouts yet, but I don’t it would be very practical for me. It would take me forever to scan and pack it all because of the quantity and I pack very methodically. It would take me several times longer at the checkout than it does now even when you include the time spent at the packing area. It would also effect what I buy because I would select scanner friendly items. Aldi checkout lines are the only ones I like. For me it’s a competition to see if I can load things on the belt faster than they can scan them.
Having used self check out multiple times in FL, I have learned that it is a must to bring a tote or upright type tub to load your checked out items into. If you don’t you have to put checked out things back into cart and THEN loading them in something to take home.
As someone who always loaded in the car, this is new for me. Not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of.
(This is because you do not have a checker loading your items into a new cart as they check you out, you have to load them back into your cart yourself)
Walmart is closing stores due to huge increase in shoplifting. I predicted this the first time I saw a self checkout station. Too easy and tempting. I only use self checkout for one or two items. our society is becoming anti personal contact, which is unhealthy. I was a cashier while attending college and enjoyed the customer contact.
To clarify, Walmart technically has not yet closed stores because of increased theft, but they announced in December they were considering the move if the problem continues. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/06/walmart-ceo-says-shoplifting-could-lead-to-price-jumps-store-closures.html
Our local Walmart closed because of excessive shrinkage ($1.5million in electronics alone) and opened a larger one a mile away, which has now basically a police sub-station.
I have never used self check out ever in any store. I will never unless forced to. It is too stressful of a situation for me. Its not about using a scanning area\register. My last job which I had for years was retail so its not that. I just don’t need the added stress. I would rather wait in line forever. BUT if people want to use them, great go for it.
Please Aldi don’t ever go completely self-check. That would disenfranchise a group of shoppers who find self-check difficult or impossible because of impairment/handicap. In a small town with limited places to shop for necessary food and household products, totally self-check stores are essentially closed to this group of shoppers, thus making it hard or impossible for them to get the things they need. In stores that are mostly self-check except for one or two cashier lanes open parts of the day, there are always long lines of the elderly and the handicaped backed up at the cashier lane(s). Most seem resigned to the wait but thankful for the cashier(s). For those who think there are assistants watching over the self-check lanes to help those who need it, think again. In the big box and national chain stores in my town I have observed that often these helpers are usually very thin on the ground or nowhere in sight. I have stopped giving any business to stores in my town who are totally self-check, and will sadly leave off shopping at Aldi if it slides down into total self-check. Since the loss of this relatively small group of shoppers will not cause more that a blip in the bottom lines of these large chain stores’ profits, I doubt most stores will care much. It is sad when the use of high tech for a profit gain causes hardship and harm to a vulnerable group. I choose to optimistically think better of Aldi stores, and hope they keep both checkout options available. Thank you.
here here!!! Well stated.
Self-checkout does not get rid of jobs, companies get rid of jobs. Ideally, all self-checkout would do is allow human employees to do other things, like stock shelves. For stores like Aldi and Walmart which have trouble keeping up with stocking shelves, self-checkout is a godsend. Let’s be real, all companies are trimming employees, making them train to work other areas, and giving lower hours to everyone. Self-checkout machines are not the cause, that’s just how things are these days. Maybe in the 1980s a person could work exclusively as a cashier, get insurance, generous sick days and vacation time, able to buy a house, an RV, two cars, and support a family alone. Not anymore.
I am a household of one, so self-checkout usually works well for me. One thing I haven’t figured out is why the bagging platforms seem to be backward, in front of the checkout counter. An issue I encountered recently was buying a box of fresh spinach marked 50% off – there was no electronic coding for it so the one cashier had to leave her station, come over and put in the discount. Aldi needs to fix that.
I used self-checkout at the Copley Ohio Aldi last summer. I was only buying a few badly-needed staples, it was the after work rush, and I really didn’t want to stand in line for bread, fruit, lunch meat, and a bottle of sparkling water. It was wonderful! So much easier to get in and get out with what I needed. I don’t often shop at that store, so was disappointed when none of my usual stores had self-checkout. I did my Christmas grocery shopping there.
One of the best things about Aldi is how fast the cashiers are with big orders. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will take me 10 times longer to do this at a self checkout!
Small orders, maybe, but I have been shopping at Aldi since they opened in Concord NH and I have never just picked up a few things.
Self checkouts don’t interest me at all.
Love the self checkout! Really helps when I only need a couple items and now don’t have to wait behind someone with a full cart. Thanks Aldi!!
I don’t like it. I’m tired at the end of the day.
If I utilize the self checkout counter, am I entitled to health care, overtime and sick leave benefits?
I won’t be surprised if it backfires, or several months after implementing, they remove all but one or two machines. I shop Aldi very frequently and I don’t mind standing behind someone with a full cart because i know the cashiers are the fastest I’ve seen anywhere. Image someone with a full cart, no conveyer, can’t unload anything, so you can’t scan an item and put it back in the cart. And as Aldi Reviewer Elizabeth herself said she’ll use the self check area to do her bagging, thus slowing down the checkout process.
self check out for shoppers with 10 or less items sounds great. I feel sorry for all the cashiers around the country that will lose their jobs.
Yesterday I went to an Aldi I hadn’t been to in quite some time and was happily surprised to see self checkouts! I am a family of just me so I love them. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to bag my items right there or put them back in my cart and bad them in the bagging area. I had about 8 items and bagged them right at the checkout bc there weren’t many people in the store and no one waiting behind me.
I am old and I love self check out!
Y’all take the self check outs and leave me regular check outs that’s how it needs to work😊