It took a while, but we’ve spotted Aldi self-checkout in the wild.
This has been a long time in coming. Aldi first brought self-checkout to the United Kingdom around 2019. Two years later, in 2021, the grocer started piloting the technology in the United States and Australia. Aldi has since expanded the project from a pilot to a store staple, with brand new stores getting them right out of gate and old stores slowly getting an update.
You may have strong opinions about self-checkout — our own staff is divided — but it appears to be here to stay, at least until Aldi finally perfects its checkout-free technology. For that reason, we’ve been eager to put the technology through the paces, especially to see if it’s different from other grocers.
The answer is yes, actually, at least in some small ways.
So here are our observations.
Stores Seem to Be Getting a Lot of Them
These are not a small side-project. One store we visited had six self-checkout stations; another had twelve. Your mileage may vary, of course, but it looks like Aldi intends the number of self-checkout stations to be a lot more than the number of employee-run checkouts. At the store with twelve self-checkouts, there were maybe four traditional stations, with just two of them open.
Self-Checkout in Some Stores Has Attending Workers … But Not All of Them
In one store we visited, we found a worker hovering nearby to help customers navigate the stations. We’ve found that self-checkout is a lot better than it used to be, but we still appreciated having them nearby for support.
On the other hand, another store we visited didn’t have anyone. That store was far busier, on account of it being a weekend, which may have factored in. Moral of the story: you may or may not have an employee nearby depending on the situation.
The Self-Checkout Stations are in the Middle of the Checkout Area
At the stores we visited, the self-checkout stations aren’t off to one side in their own dedicated space like they usually are at other retailers. Instead, they’re directly in the center of the checkout area, flanked on both sides by regular checkout lanes. It seems like Aldi is purposely trying to funnel customers into the self-checkout area by making it a visual centerpiece rather than a side feature.
The Self-Checkout Stations Aren’t Just in the Old Checkout Lanes
Some of the self-checkout stations are right where the old ones are, in the checkout lanes. But in two stores we also saw them placed along the back wall where part of the bagging counter used to be.
That makes sense. With more self-checkout being used, there’s probably less need for the open bagging space. And there was still a decent amount of tabletop for people who ran big orders through the manned stations and needed a place to bag their groceries.
The Metal Platforms Next to the Station Feel Bigger Than Normal
This was a surprise. We’ve used self-checkout at plenty of stores and the metal bin or platform space where you put items after scanning them is usually modest … or at least it feels modest. These Aldi platforms came across as being bigger: we were able to fit all of our groceries — fifteen items or so — in without trouble. The larger space may be due, in part, because they don’t have the bags and bag holders you see at other retailers, but even with that being the case it’s a generous size. That makes the station feel better suited for mid-sized orders than we might have anticipated.
Scanning Is Reliably Good
Because Aldi helpfully puts bar codes on multiple sides of its house brand products — a trick to speed up its regular checkout lanes — it also helps speed up self-checkout. Things scan fast and easy.
The Self-Checkout Station is a Little Bossy
Apparently Aldi workers aren’t the only ones who are supposed to scan fast. We found out that if you go more than a few seconds between scans, the station starts badgering you to keep going. It says something like, “please scan your next item.” It doesn’t poke you with a cattle prod or anything, but clearly the store wants to keep the speed going in the self-checkout just like it does in regular checkout. If you’re already someone who doesn’t like self-checkout, this probably won’t win you over, although if you’re standing behind someone who is on the slow side, you might appreciate the nudge.
Our Self-Checkout Stations Didn’t Take Cash
They did, however, take credit, debit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
The Interface is Smooth and Intuitive
The station scanned well, had a clean and easy interface, and was a breeze to use to finish up with. Once we told it we were finished, it sent us over to the adjoining card reader, which didn’t require us to do more than either tap to pay or put the card in, then watch as it finished the transaction and spit out a receipt under the checkout station. Unless you have a debit card with a PIN, you’re not going to have to do much with this other than flash payment.
Overall, It Exceeded Our Expectations
We’re unsure how we’ll feel about Aldi self-checkout long term, but we have to admit that, on first inspection, it shows evidence of being well thought-out and well-planned. There are a lot of stations, which helps considerably in spreading out customers and getting them through. In the case of our weekend visit to a store, we didn’t have to wait at all to get in and start scanning. It was nice to not have to wait behind large full carts, which were instead diverted over to the employee-manned stations.
If what we saw is any indication, Aldi may have just found a way to up the speed of its checkouts, especially for customers with fewer items. Time will tell.
Have you tried out Aldi self-checkout? Let us know what you think in the comments. Just be mindful of our Community Guidelines.
I don’t shop at Aldi very often, but I believe I saw (and used) self-checkout at my local Aldi (Pontiac, IL) the last time I was there. I was at an Aldi in a much larger city (Mount Prospect, IL) more recently, though, and although they did have parking spots for picking up items ordered online, they did NOT have self-checkout stations inside the store.
I usually prefer a manned checkout, but have gotten used to self-checkout at stores like Costco and Target where I normally use a credit card anyway, and would probably use self-checkout at Aldi if available, especially if the manned checkout lines are long.
I have used self checkout in our Hermitage, Tn store 3 times and I like it. It took me a couple ot times to figure out a good way to do it but what works best for me is to put my bags up on the metal platform then scan and direct to bag. I do try to hurry and yes the bossy machine harps at me but thats ok. The scanner on the side works good for heavy items like bottled water. All in all Its good!
My store has them for about a month and I think they are great I can pass many people on line who for any reason will not use them. The only problem is the metal bin where you put your scanned products is “always dirty”. A real turn of. Aldi needs to get its act together and wipe them down more often.
I love self checkout. I used to get upset when the checkout person threw my items into the cart. I don’t like the constant badgering when I am not scanning quickly! I am retired so I go for groceries during the week. I know that people who are still working full time need to do their shopping on the weekends.
Love that Aldi is constantly offering more items (especially organic).
We shop at Aldi every week. If we have only a few items like 5 or so we will use the self checkout. But if we have many items, we prefer going to the employee stations. Also many times the price wrung-up is different then the price on the shelf label, and only an employee can take care of that and give you the shelf price.
There is a new self checkout Alin Greer , SC Aldi, it is awful, 4 self checkouts and the lines were backed up down the isles, it wad awful, they do not take cash, I went to the only person check out there, had to pull cart in a cubby by register, however the person got me through more quickly than anyone that was at self checkout, I wad done packed up and gone before the anyone that was self checking ah3ad of me, I will stick with person checkouts, really goes much quicker and isn’t that an Aldi trademark..get thru check out quick? Not with self checkouts
Not a fan of self checkout and don’t use it in other stores. Seems over the years service has gone away. Used to be someone bagged your groceries, and brought them out and placed them in your car for you. Now you are expected to do everything yourself. Guess I just miss the good old days.
But that is the reason Aldi’s prices are so low. They dont pay extra employees to bag your groceries and round up carts in the parking lot. Higher prices or less services. Can’t have it both ways.
Don’t like it. Period.
totally agree with you. I will never use any self check out. It takes a job away from someone. There is no other way to slice and dice it. More than taking a job away the individual that is no longer ringing up your purchases is also no longer having the company paying into social security, disability and the other government programs for that employee so it hurts all of us. These programs are there for All of us.
Only one of the several Aldi stores that I shop at in my area has self-checkout. I will never be able to scan as quickly as an Aldi staff person. Unless there is a very long line that is my choice. Also keep these two things in mind: some produce items may not be code tagged and will require assistance; a wine or beer purchase must be checked out by an employee. The self checkout lanes only occasionally will have someone on hand to help.
I want to get out of store quick not spend gobs of time in line, bagging mine and carts are less of a problem than self scan, and that huge long line
Grocery shopping has always been a stressful situation for me forever. I don’t need the added stress of this.
The self checkout came to my neighborhood store in Overland Park, Ks a couple of months ago. I love it!
It’s fast and efficient! If the product ( produce usually) doesn’t have a barcode the large screen provides pictures and all that’s required is to indicate the quantity- could not be easier. The self checkout eliminates the long wait behind overflowing carts. As others have mentioned, if you run into a snag checking an item, simply raise your hand and an employee will assist you quickly. I’m very happy that ALDIs has made the self checkouts an option.
Does Ft Smith Ar have it in their store
I tried out the self-checkout at my Aldi in Wickliffe, Ohio.
It was a good experience. I’m not a huge fan of self-checkout stations in general (the small area where you have to place bagged items, the never ending nagging voice to “please place item in the bagging area”), but my Aldi had the nagging voice volume turned way down — and the bagging area was huge compared to other stores.
The only issue I had was that they didn’t have an employee available to assist shoppers that were experiencing checkout issues. The employee who was working the ONE regular register line kept having to leave her register to help the folks who had issues with the self-checkout scanner, etc.
It’s nice to be able to check prices as you scan your grocery items instead of finding price mistakes when you get home and look over your receipt.
My husband and I go to Aldi a lot more now than our other grocery stores. I’ve come to depend on lower Aldi prices, and I go to the other stores when I need something in particular that Aldi does not have. I haven’t seen any Aldi self checkouts yet in the Rochester area. I’m not a big fan of them but when it’s really busy anywhere, my husband will always use self checkout. I think we need to have choices of having both kinds of checkouts. I appreciate that they may keep the price down but every time I go to a selfcheck out it takes me longer to figure out how to use it; then it is easier to go through the line and have somebody else check me out. Self checkouts are different in every store so I have to re-orient myself every time.