My opinion on the new Franprix store concept in Paris
Franprix, a convenience supermarket chain with around 900 stores in the Paris area has recently released the latest iteration of its “Mandarine” concept called “Vitamine Mandarine”. Let’s explore the 400 square-meter store located in the 11th district of Paris to figure out how it can eventually make a difference on the market.
At first sight, nothing has changed compared to the former concept. The brand has stuck to the identity that is now prominent throughout Paris.
Anyway, if you pay closer attention you will find a savvy initiative for pets: a hook for a leash and a bowl of water. The kind of useful service that should be adopted by more urban stores to make life easier in our cities.
The store offers a remarkably wide centre aisle for such a compact format. Whereas urban supermarkets are usually literally packed with merchandise from floor to ceiling, in order to provide their customers with the largest assortment possible, this new Franprix has deliberately chosen to favour comfort and visibility within the store. This implies a courageous and radical effort to build up the best assortment possible.
The snacking area
Franprix has been clearly committed to designing a whole new snacking area that would be convincing enough to turn the store in a true fast casual food joint. I have looked of all its details for Snacking Magazine‘s June issue. I cannot share this whole report here. I hope you will understand that.
The cheese and delicatessen area
Franprix has decided to install a counter for cheese and deli when competitors usually only offer a self-service area. And this has a major impact on both quality and professionalism.
Prepared seafood area
Franprix is showcasing a compact but appealing assortment of fresh packaged seafood items. The white-tiled wall combined with a refined signage system result in an impulse buying environment.
Beer and wine
Franprix has turned into an urban traditional wine merchant somehow. The store features a wide range of products, the vast majority of whom are stored in refrigerated cabinets.
The bulk section
In France, the bulk section has been incredibly popular over the recent years. Both organic supermarkets and modern urban convenience stores are now featuring a place where you can buy a wide selection of cereals by weight. Here, Franprix has decided to split the section into several ones located in each and every aisles (breakfast cereals, rice and dried vegetables). A smart initiative that should enable customers to cross-check the price and quality of packaged good with bulk ones.
Moreover, Franprix has pushed the boundaries further introducing detergents and wines sold in bulk as well. In the wine section, a tap and glass bottles are available to choose from 2 different items. It goes the same way with detergents. Fun and sustainable at the same time.
The brand new Franprix concept is a concentrated collection of relevant services.
Starting with a free and efficient wifi system that is now a “must have” in physical retail. Combined with plugs to charge your devices while you eat or drink on the spot.
Two major innovations are striking visitors who discover the store: first, a delivery service called “shop and go” which allows customers to leave their full carts and ask for a free delivery at the time they are available. Payment will be collected on delivery.
Second, some DHL lockers to have your parcels directly delivered in the store. A private access code gives you the ability to get back your package without asking the staff.
To make clients life easier, Franprix can lend you some shopping trolleys and umbrellas for free. The kind of random act of kindness that is poised to generate a favorable word of mouth in the neighbourhood.
Thanks to its set of services and the snacking area, the new Franprix has the ambition to be a focal point of the local life. On top of that, a large map installed by the checkout line indicates the metro stations around the store and some practical informations.
The checkout area
This area has been entirely remodeled. Franprix has decided to get rid of the impulse buying displays for candies or snacks that are usually installed by the checkouts. Now, the tills are not only easily accessibly but also more user-friendly as you can easily get in touch with the staff.
Whereas Franprix was used to update its store concept every 7 years, the brand has now adopted a more pragmatic strategy based on a “test and learn” philosophy, that introduces constant innovations and deploy them fast within the network in case they prove relevant and successful.
To get this new concept right, we should not underestimate the impact that the former concept “Mandarine” had on the whole Franprix organisation. It was of course a major achievement in terms of profitability and sales but it has also transform the company mindset. A “Mandarine Academy” has been set up to train the employees and incite them to take risks and initiatives to better serve the clients. This new store concept is a convincing consequence of this new strategy. I see similarities with another French successful retail concept: Decathlon
By the end of 2017, the whole Franprix network will adopt the new concept.