Casino's new high-tech concept store in Paris experiments with a variety of innovations and in-store solutions in a small store setting. It provides a vision of the future, where retailing combines the fluidity of digital technologies with the more experiential, human aspect of shopping. 

What we’ve seen

  • At the start of October Casino opened a new high-tech concept store “Le 4 Casino” near the Champs-Elysées in Paris.

  • The opening marks the group’s 120th anniversary of its foundation and offers a vision of the retailing of tomorrow.

  • The store includes the first physical presence in Paris of Cdiscount, France’s second largest online only retailer.

Packed with innovation

"Le 4 Casino" is a concept developed by Casino and one of its main franchisees, Moez Zouari. The name is not a new banner, it simply refers to the store's address, at 4 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt.

It is an experimental format, a place to eat, relax and shop where digital services enhance and simplify the day-to-day shopping experience. The store has 400 sq m of space over three floors and offers 6,000 products (65% of which are fresh), giving pride of place to organic and locally sourced products along with a a smart wine and spirits cellar. It’s open 24 hours, seven days a week, but only accessible after midnight (when the staff leave) to customers using the Casino Max app. 

The store’s offering is unique, with a gourmet grocery aisle, a selection of Casino food items, a large proportion of organic and vegan products in the mix, exclusive products from guest brands as well as areas to eat and drink. 

Figure 1: "Le 4 Casino" store interior
[graphic: image 1]
Source: François Daburon

The front of the store has augmented reality windows which help capture interest and attention from the many tourists in the area. The shopping experience is streamlined and enhanced by a variety of digital services enabling customers to shop without going through a physical checkout, easily locate products in-store (via the 'OK Max' in-store product mapping screen), choose from a broader range of products and services via digital interfaces, and find more detailed information about the products on offer.

In addition to shopping in-store, shoppers have the option of ordering home delivery through a digital wall, where they can scan items and schedule delivery. Image recognition allows shoppers to make purchases by using the Casino App on their phone and scanning the app at a self-service checkout.

The first store space for Cdiscount in Paris

Cdiscount is France's second largest online only retailer (after Amazon). It is also owned by the Casino group.

The whole third floor of "Le 4 Casino" is a showroom for Cdiscount and its products. The focus is on "living" products, with sofas to try, homewares, electricals and other gadgets. There is also a space dedicated to co-working with coffee and printer. Cdiscount already has a few showrooms in some Géant hypermarkets, which can be used as collection points for items ordered online, but this is the first such space in Paris.

Casino driving digital innovation

The concept store comes as retailers around the world are looking at what Amazon does next with its own bricks and mortar presence through the Amazon Go cashierless stores that use sensors, artificial intelligence, and smartphones to streamline the shopping experience. 

Although there are none of these stores in France yet, Casino is looking to get ahead of the game and is at the forefront of digital developments in French grocery retailing. 

It owns Monoprix, which recently established a deal with Amazon Prime Now and is to be the first chain in France to benefit from a deal with the UK online grocery retailer Ocado. Casino also owns Franprix, which supplies Cdiscount Express (the home delivery service in Paris) and is expanding its home delivery service in its own right.

The Monoprix/Ocado deal has the potential to really shake up the market, perhaps even more so than entry of Amazon Fresh would. When it launches in 2019 the number of lines on offer for home delivery will be around 50,000, far in excess of what is currently available online with any of the other grocers.

Payments include WePay for Chinese tourists

"Le 4 Casino" is a cashier-free shop and customers can use a variety of different payment methods. 

The mobile app, 'Casino Max' can guide shoppers through the whole shopping journey, from opening the barriers to the entrance after midnight when the store staff leave, up to mobile payment, which can include self-scanning on the shelves, similar to that at the Amazon Go stores. 

The app is designed to appeal to Chinese tourists because it is compatible with the Alipay and Wechat mobile payment platforms, only the second Parisian store to offer this after Galeries Lafayette.

Store product locator

One interesting gadget is the in-store product locator, OK Max, that uses Google Voice. The scenario begins with the customer saying for example "OK Max I'm looking for cereal". The system will then show a store map that the customer can retrieve on their mobile with a QR code. The kiosk works in Chinese, English and Spanish.

Such a system perhaps has limited potential in smaller stores, but would work well in larger superstores and hypermarkets. The trial is no doubt helping Casino understand how voice commands could work in retailing, which could be incorporated into its own voice enabled app. 

What it means

  • This store is of course a one-off, an experimental place to explore the potential of different technologies, but it gives us an insight into what grocery shopping in the future might look like.

  • At a time when some are expressing uncertainty about the future of brick-and-mortar stores, it shows a way forward that incorporates the human aspect of retailing with the best of digital technology.

  • In the future, the gap between bricks-and-mortar and digital stores will close. Physical and digital distribution channels will not only need to adapt to tastes and trends but also to anticipate them.

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