A few days ago, Carrefour has unveiled a new pilot store of its « City » format. And, let it be said, the giant French retailer has taken the urban grocery store concept to the next level. The new Carrefour City is a store that truly connects people to their neighborhood through a customer-oriented positioning that showcases a vast range of new and useful services. Carrefour City is a store that has been designed as a local and physical social network.
Let’s discover the store in a video
My take on the concept
- The 400 square meter store is ideally located in an affluent and busy Parisian neighborhood made of a mix of residential and office buildings. A perfect catchment area that secures high footfall throughout the day. At lunch time, the store is packed with office workers whereas customers who live in the neighborhood can shop in the evening or early in the morning. The opening hours are from 7:30 am to 10 pm.
- Carrefour City has been designed to be both comfortable and contemporary. While the large and high glass storefront lets natural light flow inside the store, white-bricked walls are giving an urban loft feeling and wooden structures around the shelves are warming up the atmosphere. The vinyl floor is absorbing unpleasant noise and the ambient music is tuned at a low level. All in all, the first impression is really positive. We feel instantly well in that store. Good job.
- Another striking element is the numerous positive and thoughtful messages delivered through the signage system that showcase the store’s dedication to service and customer attention.
- Service is at the heart of the new concept. And it goes far beyond what we usually see in convenience stores. For example, Carrefour City provides a postal service spot installed by the checkout line. At a time when French public services are suffering from state budget cuts, some savvy retailers such as Carrefour can grab the opportunity to enrich their range of relevant services. But what is really innovative is the fact that Carrefour City has partnered with some local external operators specialized in « conciergerie » or « handy man service», which services are to be ordered online. A very smart way for Carrefour to improve its range of services without having to execute them itself. And it keeps its own staff to be 100% focused on its grocery expertise instead.
- Carrefour City has put an emphasis on a few strategic range of products to make a difference: produce, organic food and health & beauty care items for example. Even though the store is only 400 square meter, it has the potential to become the main food store of the local clientele. Anyway, as some signs indicate, if customers need additional items, they can order them online through the various Carrefour websites.
- The check-out area has been designed to be less space consuming, which allows the store to display more products inside. On top of that, there are multiple small check-out spots available to deal with lines quickly. That is what service is all about as well.
As a conclusion, I would definitely point out that Carrefour has taken local grocery store positioning one step further. Thanks to Carrefour low price policy, the new City might be a serious competitor for Franprix and even Monoprix in major French cities. However, a possible weakness of this concept could be its « price image ». Actually, this is always the case when retailers are improving service and comfort: they are losing on the price image side. This could be a pain point at a time when the French economy is struggling with low growth and high level of unemployment. Time will tell.
To read my previous articles about retail concepts and innovations, click here.