New Carrefour Market Concept in Paris

New Carrefour Market Concept in Paris

Even though Carrefour has already revamped 17 supermarkets into more upscale Carrefour Gourmet concept in Italy, we were expecting the brand to shake up the French market as well. This has now been done a few days ago in Paris in a 1,300 square meters former traditional Carrefour Market, located in a busy and quite wealthy neigbourhood in the 5th district. Let’s explore this store to see what it’s all about.

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  • Right from the entrance, we notice that Carrefour brand has disappeared in plain text and been replaced by a logo only. “Market” is definitely the signature of Carrefour supermarket format. Moreover, in order to root the store in the local environment, “Saint Marcel” is now displayed both on the façade and in the store. IMG_4958
  • Open from 7:30 AM, the store adapts to the needs of the local urban shoppers.

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  • At the entrance, a nicely designed welcome desk embodies Carrefour objective to put an emphasis on confort and service.

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  • Anyway, what strikes the most in the store is the decor. Contemporary and elegant. The store has been designed by French retail design agency AKDV which has already a long track record in supermarket concepts. Too bad that the zen atmosphere is a bit ruined with a lousy and noisy background music. French supermarkets in general seem to be afraid of silence. They should not.
  • This store suffers from a quite complicated layout (and it has nothing to do with the concept obviously). A few steps away from the entrance, you have no choice but take the stairs down to the produce area. Thanks to a specific decor the journey is made pleasant.

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  • If you don’t get that once you take the stairs you can’t turn back, a harsh message makes it all clear. A more elegant and polite way to put this would have been appreciated. Retail is detail, isn’t it ? What is really surprising is that Carrefour have not replaced the stair by an escalator. Expensive investment for sure but a kind of service we would expect from a “premium” supermarket.

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  • The right side wall has been elegantly designed to enrich the customer experience.

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  • The produce area is a must see. Clean, tidy and generous. It gives the whole store a premium and gourmet flavour. Congrats.

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  • Some fresh items are beautifully displayed in refrigerated cabinets. This reminds me of Whole Food Markets and I have to say that this is really tasty and attractive.

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  • The signage has been completely redesigned as well and provides the shoppers with a chic and elegant atmosphere.

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  • The fishmonger’s stall is tiny but professional. A strategic offer to attract wealthy and demanding shoppers in the area.

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  • The butchery/delicatessen stall is also worth a visit. The cabinets are beautifully designed and the range of products looks really tasty. On top of that, you can enjoy a typical smell of roasted chicken. Supermarket experience is also based on smell, not only vision. That’s something online retailers cannot compete with.

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  • Right after the produce area, you enter the dry grocery section that also continues on the ground floor. Thanks to brick walls and a few elegant and unusual promotion displays, the customer journey is enjoyable, even for day to day groceries.

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  • Ethnic and diet items benefit from a quite large product range.

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  •  “Reflets de France” cross-sector private label is also enhanced.

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  • To continue your trip to the ground floor, you can enjoy the only one escalator in the store. You can put your basket on a specific track that will lift it up to the top.

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  • On the ground floor, some organic items sold in bulk are available. Nice and smart proposal.

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  • The bakery and confectionery section is quite disappointing. Due to the lack of space (I assume) the store doesn’t provide the shoppers with a traditional bakery. When we know how strategic this offer is in an urban store, this is obviously a pain point.

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  • Some non-food products are also displayed to comply with Carrefour national promotions. But, due to the lack of space, only a few items are showcased and the general feeling is not positive. I think that in this specific store, Carrefour would better be focused 100% on food.

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  • The check-out area has been designed to deal with rush hours traffic. Both self and traditional checkouts are available. People waiting in line are guided by an efficient orientation signage. A way better system than the French traditional checkout layout where customers are stacked in an utterly unpleasant environment.

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To wrap-up this visit, I would like to point out a few observations :

  • Carrefour provides visitors with a clean, elegant and tidy store. Apart from the bakery section, the store doesn’t suffer from any major weaknesses.
  • Despite its small surface and a complicated layout, the store is set to carry out its mission to be a leading food store in he catchment area. The produce section, the fishmonger’s stall as well as ethnic and diet items give the store some competitive advantages to drive customer satisfaction and generate higher sales and profits.
  • All things considered, though, I don’t think that this first iteration of Carrefour premium supermarket can be seen as a blueprint for a new generation of gourmet stores. I think that other competitors can do better. I am not talking about the decor – which is remarkable here – but the range of products a store may offer to meet the needs of  the wealthy urban customer target. For example, locally grown fresh produce as well as fresh organic items are not showcased in this store.
  • It goes the same for new services. Carrefour has neither displayed click and collect service nor lockers for online purchases. It would have made sense though. The recent acquisition of online retailer “Rue du Commerce” by Carrefour should lead to this kind of innovation in physical stores in a more or less long run. At a time when Amazon has just launched its ultra-fast free delivery service “Amazon Prime Now” in Paris, Carrefour will soon try to catch up with its me-too innovation “Carrefour Now”. A test is scheduled in 3 parisian stores but not at Saint Marcel. For now. Premium urban supermarket competition in France has only just begun.

If you are interested in my “embedded experiences “in stores, you can read all my previous posts HERE.