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CASE STUDY Carrefour looks to offer local products with online convenience

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Combining the convenience of online retail with the quality and authenticity of local produce could be a match made in heaven. This is what Carrefour Belgium hopes to achieve with its new online platform, which it says offers “all the advantages of the virtual, but without any of the disadvantages”.

The new ordering system will allow customers shopping via the retailer’s site or the Carrefour app to type in their postcode and choose their nearest store. From there they will be able to browse a range of local products through a special tab on the site.

The products will then be prepared in-store. Customers can then receive their shopping through delivery, if available in their region, or make use of the Drive offering, launched in Belgium in November 2013. This allows customers to pick up shopping they have ordered online without having to get out of the car.

As well as the front-end interface for customers, the retailer has also adapted its supply, billing and payment services so that they can be used by smaller suppliers.

The retailer has initially launched the platform with its store in Arlon, with the first local e-producers now offering ten or so products online.

However, all 750 local producers that Carrefour works with will have the option to sell their products online. The retailer said it plans to extend the opportunity to all stores which physically offer local products.

The new initiative also ticks a lot of boxes for Carrefour from a strategic perspective. In its wide-ranging Carrefour 2022 manifesto, announced in January of this year, the French retailer outlined a series of programmes to adapt its organisation.

One plank of the strategy is a renewed focus on eCommerce, with the aim of becoming the “omnichannel universe of reference”. This entails investing €2.8 billion in digital and targeting €5 billion in food eCommerce by 2022.

The decision to announce the new platform at the Libramont Agricultural Fair, where Carrefour was the only major retailer in attendance, was also telling. As part of the strategy Carrefour also wants to promote food quality and make higher quality products “accessible everywhere and at a reasonable price”. It aims for fresh food sales growth to be three times higher than that of FMGC and is targeting €5 billion in organic sales by the same year.

“[The launch] will provide customers, wherever they may be, with permanent access to a wider selection of authentic products at reasonable prices, as well as ensuring that as many people as possible can enjoy the best products,” the retailer said in a statement.

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