Jean Marc Rihouey, director of convenience and franchise formats at Carrefour, revealed how the retailer is meeting shopping needs in the small store environment at the IGD Convenience Retailing 2011 event.
Carrefour operates 5,000 c-stores around the world and is learning to deliver on evolving consumption habits and households, said Rihouey.
Consumers have less time to cook and less knowledge. They want products for now and for later, he said.
The trend to single person and smaller households has reduced the need to stock up, he said. Growth in convenience means consumers can now visit stores near to their homes, which are open early and late.
Rihouey said Carrefour has developed its offer in areas such as bakery, where it has introduced small ovens and equipment to cook lines from frozen and “developed a family of products that respond to all of the customers’ expectations”.
The retailer has optimised the assortment and introduced a modern atmosphere, which is designed to encourage shoppers to stay longer in store and buy more.
Carrefour has adapted the checkout to cater for both baskets and trolleys and introduced ambient lighting, said Rihouey.
The product assortment is limited to what people can carry on foot, he said, and the aim was to increase the trip frequency of loyal customers.
Rihouey told delegates Carrefour has optimised shelf space in convenience stores by building fridges into the walls and displaying fresh produce on three levels. For suppliers this meant there was no point in offering the business ready-made displays, he said.
Rihouey said Carrefour wanted its franchisees to become ambassadors for the brand and it runs a demanding mystery shopper programme and best franchisee awards to cultivate franchisee engagement.
According to Rihouey, the convenience market is also the ideal arena to test new products and he shared elements of Carrefour’s new City Cafe format, which offers food to eat in or take away. Carrefour opened the first City Cafe format store in Bordeaux and a further two trial stores in Paris.
Rihouey said it was a totally new proposition with a different assortment, pricing and operations.
Pricing is said to be lower than at traditional food service sites. Other features include seating areas, offering a view of the street, a different style of shopping basket, a table-styled till point, microwave and coffee machines.
Summing up Rihouey advised delegates to listen to their customers – particularly younger shoppers who are more informed – and take care of their needs.
He recommended testing products in convenience and considering innovative merchandising solutions; and he urged suppliers to innovate around product formats.
“Pack size is vitally important – as consumer habits evolve, so too must your offer,” he said.