French grocery retailers are developing new ways of selling online and reaching urban customers with a new format, the pedestrian Drive, where shoppers pick up their online grocery order on foot. It combines the advantages of a hypermarket (wide product offering, competitive prices) with those of a convenience store.

For more details see Supermarkets - France - November 2018 and Online Retailing - Europe - July 2018 - France

What we’ve seen

  • The first Drive piéton was opened by Cora in 2016, in Metz, with just 120 sq m of space.

  • There are now over 100 such outlets in France.

  • Auchan opened its first in Lille and Intermarché in Paris, both in October 2018.

  • Leclerc (the largest operator of classic Drives) opened its first in Lille in April 2017, and in January 2019 opened its first in Paris (an area where it is under-represented as a hypermarket operator).

  • Carrefour opened its first Drive piéton in April 2019 in Lyon and Saint-Etienne, and is now the largest operator, with 42 locations, including 31 in Paris alone.

Click and collect is the French online grocery model

The Drive is a format relatively unknown outside France. It is essentially a click and collect point for online grocery orders and is the model that has been used by all the grocery retailers to build up their online offer.

Figure 1: A traditional Carrefour Drive
[graphic: image 1]
Source: Marta Nascimento/Carrefour

Online grocery shopping is popular in France, although research for our forthcoming report Online Retailing, France, July 2019, suggests it is not as popular as in the UK (24% of French consumers had shopped for food and drink online in our survey, compared to 35% in the UK). However it has developed completely differently to the UK, where home delivery is the norm.

According to Olivier Dauvers, a respected commentator on the French retail sector, there were 4,801 Drives in operation at January 2019, compared to 4,343 a year earlier.

Home delivery in France is only just beginning to take off as retailers look to compete with Amazon, which launched its Amazon Prime Now service in Paris in 2016 and is looking to develop its online grocery business in Europe.

Drive piéton – a new genre

Recently we have seen the emergence of a new genre – the Drive piéton (pedestrian drive). Users simply place their orders online and pick the products up from the store on foot. As we explore in Mintel trend Rebirth of Cities, increasing urbanisation is opening up opportunities for retailers and brands and the Drive piéton format is an effective way for traditional grocery retailers to reach new audiences and expand coverage into city centres.

It builds on the fact that online grocery shopping is well established in France, but opens it up to people without cars and who want to shop with smaller basket sizes.

Outlets tend to be small and need to be strategically located, close to a supermarket or hypermarket to fulfil the orders (although some are served by larger warehouses). Generally they comprise just a shop window, a reception area and storage areas behind the counter. They do not need many staff, so operating costs are lower than a traditional store.

Figure 2: A stand-alone Carrefour Drive piéton
[graphic: image 2]
Source: Carrefour
Figure 3: A Carrefour Drive piéton inside a store
[graphic: image 3]
Source: Carrefour
Figure 4: A stand-alone Carrefour Drive piéton
[graphic: image 4]
Source: Carrefour

Do they have a future?

But could the Drive piéton take sales away from existing neighbourhood/convenience stores? We think not, especially for those that are located in or next to an existing store. The one category that people often don’t want to buy online is fresh fruit and vegetables. So a shopper could do a larger online shop, choosing from the much larger range available than in the c-store and top up with fresh food from the bricks and mortar store. We see the Drive piéton as a new service, complementing existing services by combining the advantages of a hypermarket (wide product offering, competitive prices) with those of a convenience store.

What it means

  • There is still room for more Drive outlets in France, as the ongoing growth in numbers shows. The roll out of this Drive piéton format is a logical extension of the existing model of grocery shopping in France. As the provision of home delivery services expands, retailers are looking to other ways of reaching customers.

  • For the Drive piéton, future opportunities might lie in areas such as recycling points or Amazon lockers.

  • Retailers could also explore other locations such as company car parks or service stations. Automatic lockers could also be an alternative to a staffed location – with different lockers for dry, fresh or frozen products, the customer could unlock each one via a digital terminal located at the reception. These automated drives can also be open twenty-four hours a day.

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