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A French grocer puts online ordering in drive

Casino Express lets shoppers order their groceries and then pick them up

The world’s best grocery stores showcase compelling counter displays, innovative private label and ingenious layouts.

But Casino Express’s next generation “click and collect” concept in Lyon, France, demonstrates how functionality can triumph for shopper loyalty in the format battle.

Click and collect is a hybrid between traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping and online buying. Shoppers order products online, and then pick them up at a store.

Commonly known as “drive” in France, this new way of shopping has caught on over the last two years in parts of Europe. The Casino chain has been pushing particularly hard on drive, and its new Lyon store is worth a look.

The unique thing about this Casino Express is that it is a “dark store.” People cannot physically shop there. Instead, consumers place their orders online and Casino’s on-site staff within the dark store picks items.

Groceries are ready for collection by shoppers within two hours of the order being placed. In Lyon, peak collection time is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., reflecting the core customer base of time-pressed young professionals and families. Around half of the daily orders are placed on the same day as collection.

Located on a main road in a densely populated area, the Lyon store provides a high level of personal staff service. For instance, orders are brought out to customers’ cars. This shopper-centric approach brings the service element of a traditional supermarket to the online environment.

Shoppers arriving at the store first identify themselves at a kiosk terminal. In the event they forgot certain products in their online order, they are able to add additional items from a range of 500 products at the kiosk.

Yet, remarkably, they can still collect their total order within five minutes of arriving. This high level of service emphasizes that the drive concept is a convenient way to shop. Once past the kiosk, shoppers proceed to a numbered bay to park, and their order is delivered to their car.

With the efficiencies of the more traditional “pick from store” model to fulfil online orders under the spotlight, using a dark store potentially offers a sustainable model for e-commerce as it becomes an important part of retailers’ operations.

At the Casino store, a multi-functional team enhances productivity across all areas of operation, with products laid out to optimize picking speed.

Warehouse-style shelving and extensive retail-ready packaging support faster replenishment.

Goods for collection are located next to the chilled fresh zone, with technology playing an important role in speeding up the shopper experience and maximizing efficiencies through voice-controlled picking and the identification of orders.

It is this simplistic approach that is at the heart of Casino’s click-and-collect service. The effort put into finding a solution for online sales demonstrates the long-term future significance of the click-and-collect model.

Although the drive format exists at other grocery chains, Casino’s shopper-centric approach shows it is ahead of the curve.

With a concept focused on boosting frequency and loyalty to become a destination for routine weekly grocery shopping, rather than an occasional online shop, this approach is forward thinking and reinforces Casino’s strategy for multi-channel grocery sales.

Stewart Samuel is senior business analyst with IGD, an international food and grocery research firm. He is based in Vancouver. [email protected]

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