The One Small Thing Aldi Does to Speed Up Checkout

published Sep 23, 2022
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Credit: Lisa Freedman

You’ve filled your cart with your favorite Aldi budget buys, baking mixes, and lunch-box staples. You wheel up to the front. And then you get in line behind several people with their own packed-to-the-brim carts. Sigh.

Short lines (if any) that move quickly are the dreams of grocery shoppers and store managers across the country. It’s why we search for “the best time to shop at fill in the blank store.” It’s also why retailers experiment with things like express lanes, self-checkout, smart shopping carts, and even cashierless stores

While Aldi has been known to avoid such strategies in the past (more on that below), there is one small thing the grocer does to speed the checkout process along. And once you know about it, it’s impossible to miss. In fact, it’s all right there in black and white. The key to a fast checkout at Aldi are the giant barcodes. 

How Aldi Cashiers Scan Groceries So Fast

Manufacturers spend a lot of time (and money) thinking about how to display all the information about a product — ingredients, nutrition, allergens, etc. — and do it in a way that makes the product stand out on the crowded shelves. And it shows. These boxes, bags, jars, and more have never looked better, IMO. Aldi takes that design a step further by having oversized barcodes and, in some cases, multiple barcodes on the same item. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

It’s also efficient. Cashiers don’t have to waste time looking for a small, discreetly placed barcode. It’s front and center — and also back and left and on both sides. The beefy barcodes make it easier for cashiers to hit them on the first scanner pass and move on to the next item. That means we get to bag our groceries and go on our merry way.

While not every product has numerous or oversized barcodes — 10% of name-brand items carried in stores and a selection of Aldi’s own products follow conventional design — more than enough do to make the checkout process a quick one. The store is also piloting self-checkout in a number of stores. And for those of us who aren’t professional scanners, this bounty of barcodes will be especially clutch.

Have you noticed these barcodes? Tell us about it in the comments.