In the early 70s, the “supermarket” concept in France was really successful due to the changing society: woman started to work, consumer habits were evolving and cities started to expand. But now, the industry is facing new challenges since technology has revolutionized the grocery retail landscape.
Retail food stores are part of daily life: nearly half of the French population is going to supermarkets at least once a week. But, who among us has never left out of frustration due to excessively long lines at the checkout? Or who never thinks twice before walking into a store when it is crowded? The retail food industry is now looking to resolve these issues. People are now used to getting whatever they want whenever they want thanks to e-commerce. The time delay between ordering and receiving a package is practically nonexistent through the internet. This means that in order to maintain in-store traffic, retailers need to rethink the traditional retail food model in order to fit customers’ expectations.
How will French food retailers face these challenges? Is the French market ready for the change?
4 Casino, A cutting-edge store
Almost one year after Amazon Go’s tremendous opening in Seattle, the French Casino Group has followed suit with its own answer to the innovation of retail distribution.
Casino, through its new Parisian Flagship “4 Casino,” introduces its new vision of retail. A high concentration of novelties and innovations aiming to provide an optimal clientele journey. This “phygital” (alliance between physique and digital) store is more than a retail store. It is a living and sharing space.
Customer Oriented Services
Even before you step inside, Casino sets the tone with a massive augmented reality window. This surprising traffic-stopper offers to window shoppers the Paris of the “Twenties”.
The client does not come into a retail food store—he comes into a bar, a restaurant, a co-working space where every single element’s intent is to create a “cozy” atmosphere and not a place of overconsumption.
Where Casino revolutionizes the retail food industry, however, is on the inside. Thanks to little details the digital influence takes shape: a product picking wall, enhance product information display systems such as a “smart” wine cellar, or in-store product geolocalisation provided by Max, Casino’s voice assistant which speaks 4 languages.
On the second floor, Cdiscount displays some products sold online. The client can easily identify himself thanks to website codes: clients’ rates and customer reviews are indicated on the price tag in red (as found online). An amazing internet-linked mirror evaluates customers’ age and advises them on which product they would be interested in.
Casino wants to upgrade the shopping process by creating an “Omni-channel” and tailored in-store experience.
How is Casino facing the industry’s challenges?
96%: this is the proportion of retail sales within supermarkets, and therefore Casino has taken into account the significance of this figure.
Can you imagine a store where you never waste time in lines, where you can just walk into a store, grab a product, and walk out without any pause?
Well, that is what Casino proposes. In a society where more than 60% of people think that it is not acceptable to wait more than 4 minutes for a checkout line, there is a necessity for streamlining the payment process. Thanks to the application “Casino Max”, the customer can now scan his selections and pay through his smartphone.
Understandably, you may think that this new model is killing jobs. The answer is no. There is a transition period of course, yet instead of creating Cashier positions, there are many advisors in-store, wine specialist, or even waiters whom the goal is to create added value to the customer experience.
Is the French market ready?
Statistically, approximately 67% of the population owns a smartphone. This means that a lack of up-to-date equipment cannot constrain French people. However, the digital retail food store concept raises other issues.
What about GDPR? The retail sector has a veritable gold mine of information about their clients. What time do they shop? How often? What are their favorite brands?
How do we manage underage consumers? What about older people without advanced phones and computers and for whom these newer technologies are unfamiliar?
France is not as digitally developed as Asia is with types of mobile payments thanks to WeChat or Alipay. Indeed, in China 50% of payments are made through E-wallet methods, while in France it is only 16%.
To conclude, digital retail food stores in France has been a recent trend, aiming to upgrade the client experience. They are trying to solve some of the underlying and taking up new challenges the industry is facing. Bringing a tailored and Omni-channel client journey, this first laboratory flagship is open to the public 24/7 with a high level of anticipation to fit customers’ expectations.
Photo credits: Anaëlle Thomas