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Aldi stores are getting a $5.3 billion update — and the result is almost unrecognizable

Saturday August 11 th 2018

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

  • Aldi is spending $5.3 billion to build 800 new stores and remodel existing locations.
  • I toured one of the newly remodeled stores, and it was a vastly different shopping experience from the older stores.
  • The biggest changes were in the fresh department, which was larger and offered a greater variety of organic produce.

Aldi is halfway through its $5.3 billion plan to build 800 new stores in the United States and update hundreds of existing locations.

I toured a newly remodeled store in St. Charles, Illinois, this week, and it was nearly unrecognizable.

Here’s what the new store looks like, compared to a couple of older stores in Richmond, Virginia:


Aldi’s new and remodeled stores feature 20% more shopping space than the older stores. This newly remodeled store is 12,000 square feet.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Beige tiled floors helped brighten the interior of the store, along with additional lighting fixtures on the walls.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


New, back-lit signs added color to the walls.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


The new design, on the other hand, added more refrigerated space across the store, with new sleek signage featuring white text against a black backdrop.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



In an older store I visited in Richmond, Virginia, this week, the refrigerated space was limited and lacked signage.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



In one of the older stores I visited, fresh produce was largely limited to this small, center-aisle fixture.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


Few organic items were available, and most of the goods were packaged or bagged.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Aldi’s new stores now feature a much more extensive selection of fruits and vegetables.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, green beans, and broccoli were among the vegetables for sale.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


Many of the items were bagged.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



But the store now also offers a number of loose produce items, such as tomatoes and avocados.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


In addition to the physical changes that Aldi is making to its stores, the company is now embarking on its biggest product refresh in history by adding more fresh, organic, vegetarian, and vegan items to its US stores.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



In the new store, I found a huge increase in the number of organic items available.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


Avocados, blueberries, strawberries, and broccoli were among the many organic goods for sale. Aldi is growing the number of organic goods it carries as it increasingly builds more stores in more affluent areas.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Once the product rollout is complete in early 2019, about 20% of the items in Aldi stores will be new, the company said.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


The new additions will also grow Aldi’s fresh food offering by more than 40%, according to the company.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Some of the new items include veggie noodles, organic chicken breasts, and pre-marinated meats …

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


… along with sliced fruits …

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



… and grab-and-go items such as single-serve guacamole and hummus, salad bowls, and quinoa bowls.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


More than 90% of the products in Aldi stores are private-label, but some national brands are scattered throughout.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Aldi’s large percentage of private-label goods help the company keep costs low.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


Aldi also saves money by displaying products in the boxes in which they were shipped. This cuts down on the amount of time employees spend stocking shelves, which in turn saves labor costs.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson



Overall, the newly remodeled Aldi store was brighter and bigger with far more to offer in the fresh department compared to the older stores.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson


Don’t fall for the hoax: Facebook isn’t restricting your News Feed to 25 friends (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

  • There’s a viral Facebook post making the rounds that claims the News Feed is restricting what you see to just 25 friends.
  • Spoiler alert: It’s just not true.

No, Facebook is not restricting the content you see on your News Feed to just 25 or 26 friends.

Over the last few months, a hoax has been making the rounds on the social network. It claims, in essence, that Facebook has implemented an algorithm change that means you will only see posts from a select few of your friends. Anyone else is flat out of luck.

The hoax encourages users to combat this by copying and pasting a faux-informative message about the “change” — and then asking users’ friends to reply to the post.

Here’s one example Business Insider has seen (the wording often varies slightly):

Hello Friends – I’m jumping on the bandwagon too….Fighting this Facebook algorithm change, because I’m noticing I am not seeing so many of my friends posts. Here is how to avoid hearing from the same 26 FB friends and nobody else. This post explains why we don’t see all posts from our friends. Funny, I thought if I followed you on Facebook I would see what you post. Not anymore…..

Your newsfeed recently shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, repeatedly the same, because Facebook has a new algorithm….

Their system chooses the people who will read your posts. However I would like to choose for myself, therefore, I ask you all a favor- if you are reading this message leave me a quick comment, a “hey” or sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my newsfeed please!

Otherwise Facebook chooses who to show me and I don’t need Facebook to choose my friends. Please copy and paste on your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts and bypass the system. That’s why we don’t see all posts from our friends.

Hold your finger down anywhere on this post and “copy” will pop up. Click “copy”. Then go to your page, start a new post on your page, then put your finger anywhere in the blank field. “Paste” will pop up and click on it to paste. Thank you all!

Variations of this hoax have been circulating since at least February 2018, and Facebook comprehensively debunked it at the time. But that clearly didn’t halt its spread.

The problem is that by the time a fooled user realizes it’s total hookum, it’s too late — they’ve already copy-pasted it, sharing it with their friends, allowing it to keep going viral across the social network.

That said, there is an extremely convoluted and twisted kernel of truth in here — Facebook’s algorithm does make judgement about which of your friends it thinks you want to see content from, and then prioritizes them in your News Feed. And engaging with these friends’ posts (and them engaging with your posts) will make them appear more frequently.

If you feel you are seeing only a limited number of posts from a limited number of people, there is a tried-and-true trick that will give you a different view of your News Feed: have it show you the “Most Recent” posts rather than its default, “Top Stories.”

To do this on the desktop click on “News Feed” in the left-hand column and then on “Most Recent.”

This view of the News Feed is harder to find on the mobile app. First click on the “three lines” symbol (next to the notifications bell symbol). Then click on “See More” then on “Most Recent.”

But the “facts” this hoax claims, and its purported fix? Dead wrong.

See also:

Governments are getting better at regulating the ‘sharing economy’

UberMikeDotta/Shutterstock

  • For years, city and state governments around the country have been fighting over “sharing economy” issues.
  • Now those fights are making more sense.
  • Companies and lawmakers have learned to speak the same language, and they’re finding compromises.

This is a column about government working better.

For years, city and state governments around the country have been fighting over “sharing economy” issues. What’s changing is those fights are making more sense.

These are no longer so often fights between companies that think they’re entitled to be unregulated and governments that want to ban businesses they find new and suspicious.

Companies and lawmakers have learned to speak the same language, have climbed down from extreme positions, and are doing better at finding compromises that harness the benefits of business innovation while limiting unintended costs imposed on communities.

They’re not getting it right all the time, and there’s a lot of work left to be done, especially around labor regulation for people who work in these industries. But they’re getting it right more often, and even when they get it wrong — as New York may have recently done with new rules on Uber and Lyft — they’re showing more flexibility, emphasizing that rules are subject to change as we see how they work.

The scooter freak out did not lead to scooter bans

A few months ago, there was a spate of articles about how everyone hates electric scooters, which had become ubiquitous in cities like San Francisco. They’re blocking the sidewalk. They’re getting thrown in San Francisco Bay. People are riding them on the sidewalk. They are an offensive symbol of tech bro culture. Etcetera.

There were calls from ornery residents: Get these off the streets. This sentiment was sometimes expressed in human excrement.

But scooters, while perhaps annoying, are useful. They address a very real “last mile” problem: Will people use transit if the place they’re going is a 12-minute walk from the subway? What if it’s a four-minute scooter ride from the subway instead?

Instead of banning, several cities have taken a smarter approach: Require operators to get licenses, impose rules about how to use a scooter safely and nicely, and limit the number of scooters in operation so there aren’t piles of unused scooters littering the sidewalks.

San Francisco did order all the scooters off the streets temporarily, but a limited number are coming back this month for a yearlong pilot.

Santa Monica has imposed an especially sensible, flexible scooter cap: If a company’s scooters are getting a lot of use, it can put more on the street. If they aren’t getting used very much, they have to take them off.

Cities and companies understand regulation should be a work in progress

Instead of bans, jurisdictions have been channeling their skepticism and concerns about sharing businesses in more useful directions: Pilot projects, temporary caps, and regulations of fixed duration.

Seattle, the US city with the largest dockless bike share presence, has treated its programs as an explicit pilot. A big pilot: Three companies have 10,000 bikes operating in Seattle, about the same number as New York’s dock-based Citi Bike program.

For a year, Seattle collected data and surveyed users and residents. Now, the three pilot companies are continuing to operate as the city decides what kind of permanent regime it wants — having learned a number of valuable lessons about bike parking along the way.

In New York, the city council has just passed new regulations on app-based ride share services, to much fanfare and also much objection.

The rules pause the issuance of new registrations for cars that may be dispatched by apps — there are currently about 80,000 of them, or more than five times the number of yellow cabs in the city. But that’s only for a year, as the city tries its hand at regulations to guarantee drivers a minimum wage and discourage Uber cars from cruising midtown Manhattan without passengers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio sought a cap on rideshare cars four years ago and got smacked down by a city council responding to angry drivers. The new rules have been greeted in some corners as de Blasio’s revenge. But the number of rideshare cars operating now is drastically higher than in 2014, and this isn’t a fight about whether Uber will cease to be a major part of the transportation landscape in New York — it’s a question on the margin about numbers and fares and driver earnings.

It’s also a question about traffic speeds. Lawmakers cite the growth in rideshare cars as a reason traffic speeds in Manhattan have fallen in recent years. A congestion charge for all cars would probably be a better way to address this than a regulation specific to ride-sharing, but that’s not on the table, because a congestion charge would require state legislative approval.

Ian Adams, who studies sharing economy rules for the libertarian R Street Institute think tank, is skeptical that rideshare-only congestion regulations would be effective at speeding up traffic. But he did praise the city for keeping the license cap to only one year, to then be reevaluated after study.

“I think that expresses some level of skepticism they have internally about this approach,” he said, regarding the city council. “It may harm their own constituents and I think they’re aware of that as well, and they’re reluctant to do something that will irretrievably destroy the system. That said, I think there’s a reason we haven’t seen other large cities go this way.”

There are still big questions to resolve

Some disputes about the sharing economy are harder to compromise on than questions about how much or how many of something should be available in a city.

Happy compromises have been harder to find on short-term home rental services like Airbnb than on ride-sharing services like Uber. This reflects bigger, substantive policy concerns about home sharing than other kinds of sharing.

Homeowners have valid quality-of-life concerns about the apartment buildings they live in turning into hotels — concerns that will not always be addressed by landlords and building managers if the government does not step in. And the diversion of housing units to the short-term rental market can undermine rent-control policies in cities like New York and San Francisco.

Labor rules in the sharing economy also require a lot of work.

Uber calls its drivers “driver-partners” even though what they do looks a lot like being an employee without the legal protections that come from a payroll-employee relationship. California’s Supreme Court agrees, and has ordered companies like Uber and Lyft to start treating drivers as employees, eligible for overtime and minimum wage and other benefits of employment.

The companies complain, with varying degrees of plausibility, that requiring them to treat their workers as employees will have negative consequences for consumers and even the workers themselves.

The companies may have a point about overtime rules: These exist to protect employees from being required to work extra-long hours without extra-high pay. But since ride-sharing drivers set their own hours, do they need that protection? Will requiring time-and-a-half for overtime increase drivers’ earnings, or will it just lead companies to order them to stop driving after eight hours — reducing their earnings and forcing them to choose a work schedule they didn’t want?

I don’t think the answer is obvious. It would be interesting to see how an experiment with time-and-a-half rules for ridesharing works out in some jurisdiction.

On the other hand, it’s hard to see a good argument for why sharing-economy workers should be exempt from the minimum wage like they are today.

Yes, a minimum-wage requirement might make some jobs uneconomical, and some people might be told not to work at all because the company isn’t willing to pay the wage required. But that’s also true of the minimum wage in the regular payroll economy, and we view that as an acceptable trade-off for the way the minimum wage boosts low-wage workers’ income overall.

In the long run, resolving these issues may require something the economists Seth Harris and Alan Krueger have proposed: A third kind of employment classification, less than payroll employment but more than independent contracting, that is customized to the kinds of flexible work arrangements that characterize the sharing economy.

But it would be good to see the results of more local experiments before designing a national form of those rules. After all, states and localities seem to be getting better at conducting these sorts of experiments.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours with Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 9 — here are my first impressions

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The latest $1,000 smartphone has arrived in the form of the Galaxy Note 9.

Unveiled at Samsung’s Unpacked event on Thursday in Brooklyn, New York, the Galaxy Note 9 is Samsung’s biggest, heftiest device yet: It has a 6.4-inch screen, a gigantic 4,000 mAh battery, and up to 1 terabyte of storage.

Samsung wants you to live your life on the Galaxy Note 9 – to take all your photos on the phone’s advanced camera, to write important notes and sign important documents using the phone’s S Pen, and to hook it up to a screen and turn it into a desktop computer using to Samsung’s DeX technology.

In short, this phone is a beast – or at least Samsung wants it to be.

Over the past 24 hours or so, I’ve been playing around with the new Galaxy Note 9. I’m not a Samsung user – and my own iPhone 6s feels puny and incompetent next to this thing – so I’m looking at the Galaxy Note 9 with fresh eyes. It’s important to note that I haven’t run the Galaxy Note 9 through all its paces, and I can’t give a full review of the phone after just 24 hours of usage. After we have a few more days to try the device, we’ll post a comprehensive breakdown.

But until then, here are a few initial impressions of the new Galaxy Note 9:



The design feels stale, but there are a few things I love about the look and feel of the Galaxy Note 9.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

At first glance, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the Galaxy Note 9 and its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 8. The design is a near-duplicate of last year’s phone, which is disappointing for anyone looking for an iPhone X-like innovation from Samsung.

That being said, there are two subtle changes that I appreciate, and that I think will make a difference for users.

For starters, Samsung moved the fingerprint scanner, so it’s underneath the camera instead of next to it. One of the flaws of the Galaxy Note 8 (in my opinion) was that the fingerprint scanner lived next door to the dual lenses on the back of the phone. For a left-handed user, this was no big deal; it was right next to where your index finger would naturally lie. But for a right-handed user, this was obnoxious, since anytime you went to scan your finger, you’d most likely smudge your camera lenses.

Samsung also improved the outer color of the phone: This year’s blue finish is much better-looking than last year’s model. There isn’t a major difference between the Galaxy Note 8′s “deep sea blue” and the Galaxy Note 9′s “ocean blue,” but I prefer the 2018 version; the color is simply prettier and looks more high-end.

Other than that, Samsung didn’t change a whole lot when it came to the design. One thing that didn’t change that I actually really appreciate is the headphone jack – you’ll find one on the Galaxy Note 9 and for that, I’m grateful.


The Galaxy Note 9′s display didn’t change much, but I’m blown away nonetheless.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Anyone who currently uses a recent Samsung smartphone probably won’t be impressed by the AMOLED display. It’s the same resolution as last year’s Galaxy Note 8, and only a hair bigger – 6.4 inches compared to 6.3 inches.

That being said, there’s no denying it’s gorgeous. Of course, any OLED display would look incredible compared to my iPhone 6s, but the Galaxy Note 9 is particularly impressive because of the size. This comes into play when you switch to full-screen mode when taking a photo, or when you’re scrolling through Instagram during downtime. Watching videos feels like a whole new experience – I like to watch makeup tutorials on YouTube, and I could see way more detail and much more vibrant colors than I’ve ever seen on my own device.

Samsung may not be doing anything wildly innovative with the Galaxy Note 9 display, but just because it’s not new and exciting doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive.



The S Pen is innovative and incredibly useful.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

I’ve never owned a phone with a stylus before, so trying the S Pen for 24 hours opened up a whole new world. Taking notes, drawing, and tapping around the device using the S Pen is surprisingly fun, and gave me this automatic feeling, real or not, of increased productivity.

But the new S Pen that comes with the Galaxy Note 9 has a new, key feature that differentiates it from previous versions: Bluetooth Low Energy.

BLE lets you use the S Pen in a variety of ways. It works as a photo remote, so you can take selfies or group photos without having to be near your phone (the S Pen works with your phone from up to 30 feet away). It can also become a remote for a presentation, although I haven’t needed to try that feature yet.

Beyond that new functionality, the S Pen just looks great. The Galaxy Note 9 I’m using is blue, an the S Pen that comes with it is bright yellow. The only strange thing about that is that all the other colors of the phone – lavender, black, and copper – have S Pens that match the device. I found myself wishing Samsung had made the contrasting S Pen standard across the board.


Adding more artificial intelligence to the Galaxy Note 9′s camera was a smart move.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

My favorite smartphone camera on the market is on the Google Pixel 2, and for a simple reason: It relies on technology rather than hardware to take great photos.

With the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is starting to head in that direction as well. While Samsung phones have long had excellent cameras, I don’t think they’re the best you can buy. With the last few Samsung phones I’ve tried – the Galaxy S9, Galaxy Note 8, and Galaxy S8 – the photos tend to look overly sharpened and too bright, and the automatic face smoothing on selfies is often so extreme, it looks cartoonish.

But the Galaxy Note 9 is different. It still has some of the same tendencies – unnaturally bright and sharp photos – but it now has an added layer of technology that gives the phone an edge in the smartphone camera wars.

A new camera feature called scene optimizer will recognize what kind of object you’re photographing and automatically adjust the settings so you can take the best shot. The camera also has flaw detection, which will alert you if the image is blurry, or if the subject blinked.

With these features, Samsung is taking an already-great camera, and adding a layer of artificial intelligence on top. This alone isn’t enough to choose the Galaxy Note 9 for its camera – and we’ll have to test it more to know if it’s effective or just a gimmick – but it’s an encouraging sign of where Samsung is heading.



Overall, I’m impressed by the Galaxy Note 9 so far, but the features that Samsung says make it worth the $1,000 price tag can’t be tested in just one day.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

There are a few key features that Samsung says set the Galaxy Note 9 apart from its predecessors and from other high-end smartphones: battery life, storage, speed, and versatility. Those are features that are hard to test in just one day.

What I can tell after just one day is that this phone has a unique place in the smartphone world. It’s a phone for people who are hyper-connected and have jobs that require a super-powerful smartphone. But it’s also a phone for people who don’t want to shell out for a phone and a laptop, and want a device that can do it all. As someone who falls in the middle of that spectrum, I don’t think it’s the right phone for anyone who’s like me.

Beyond those reasons, it’s also difficult to get excited about a device that, on a surface level, is so similar to the phone that came before it. It’s a beautiful, luxurious device, but it also doesn’t feel particularly new.

So until we know whether what’s under the hood outweighs what’s on the surface, to me, the Galaxy Note 9 remains something of a question mark.


Mattress startup CEO explains why the company is opening 200 new stores as its competitors close them

Casper

  • Casper, the online mattress startup, announced this week that it is opening 200 stores in the United States.
  • Meanwhile,  Mattress Firm is considering filing for bankruptcy as it seeks a way to close some of its 3,000 locations that are losing money. 
  • Casper CEO Philip Krim said that store closures and bankruptcies do not signal the death of retail but rather the death of “poor retail,” as stores that fail to provide an exciting shopping experience will suffer in the future.
  • A commercial real estate crisis is enabling Casper to win cheaper rents and favorable leases. 

When Casper launched in 2014, it had one simple objective: to take the hassle out of shopping for a mattress at a store. To do so, it enabled customers to buy a mattress online, have it shipped to their home, test it for 100 days, and then return it if they didn’t like it. A store played no part in the service. 

Fast forward four years, and after testing the waters in brick-and-mortar retail with a collection of pop-ups around the United States, it opened its first store in New York City in February. Now, 200 more will join it. 

“It’s definitely counter-intuitive, but I think it almost puts as a bit of a contrarian, which we are happy to be,” Casper CEO Philip Krim told Business Insider in an interview on Thursday. 

The announcement of its new stores, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, came several days after Reuters reported that Mattress Firm, the largest specialty mattress retailer in the US, was considering filing for bankruptcy. 

While the timing of these two announcements is likely coincidental, it’s symbolic of where retail is headed. 

“We do not think there is anything near the death of retail, but we do think that there is a death of poor retail,” Krim said.

He added: “The traditional mattress store where you are met with a commission salesperson, you’re lying on products you know nothing about under fluorescent lights, where there is a sale every day because they are able to play games and use tricks to deceive consumers, is not going to survive.” 

Casper’s stores aim to be the antithesis of that experience: fun and engaging spaces for all things sleep-related. 

Krim said that the success of Casper’s temporary stores hadn’t come at the expense of its e-commerce sales. In the markets where they have these stores, they have seen far more growth online, he said. This is because they can serve as marketing tools and a way to educate people about the brand. 

Casper’s New York location is a blueprint for the stores that will follow. Krim pointed to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago, Boston, and Miami as some of the likely store locations. 

While Casper might believe it has cracked the code to brick-and-mortar retail success, its admittedly “aggressive” rollout of stores is also being made possible by store closures that are driving commercial real estate rents down.

In New York, where Casper’s first store opened, commercial rents have been hit particularly hard by retail store closings. The average asking rent for available retail space has dropped to $653 per square foot from $811 per square foot a year, according to a report released by CBRE in April.

“The overall distress in real estate allows us to get very favorable terms. The landlords are being pretty progressive and giving us great options for locations and flexible lease terms,” Krim said.

He added: “That would not have been possible years ago when real estate and traditional commercial landlords were in a different position.”