Facing the looming threat of ecommerce giant Amazon’s automated stores, French grocery giant Casino has opened its first cashier-free store in Paris.
The store, called “Le Casino 4,” is located near the Champs Elysees. And it promises, according to a press release, “a place to eat, relax and shop where digital services enhance and simplify the day-to-day shopping experience.”
“The retail business is now innovation-centric, and this goes beyond mere technology,” said Jean-Charles Naouri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Casino Group, in a statement. “In the future, the gap between brick-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.”
The opening comes as Amazon has been aggressively expanding its own bricks-and-mortar efforts in the form of its Amazon Go stores, a cashierless store that uses sensors, artificial intelligence, and smartphones to allow customers to purchase items. Some reports have indicated that Amazon may try to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021.
While there are none in France yet, Casino’s rival Monoprix has signed a deal to sell groceries through Amazon’s Prime loyalty program in Paris.
Meanwhile, Casino unveiled its own strategy for the future of retail.
The new store has three floors and offers 6,000 products. It’s open 24 hours, 7 days a week. And it boasts a selection of organic products and a “smart wine and spirits cellar”, and sample dishes prepared by a chef. There is also showroom for products from French ecommerce site Cdiscount and there is also a free co-working space.
Outside the store, there is an augmented reality digital display.
In addition to buying products on site, shoppers also have the option of ordering home delivery through a digital wall where they can scan items and schedule their delivery.
Of course, the main feature is still selecting from among the 6,000 products at the store. The store then uses a combination of image recognition to make purchases using a Casino App on their phone and then scanning the app at a self-service check-out to pay.
The company says Le Casino 4 is an experiment, and it plans to give it at least six months before evaluating its progress and the public’s reception to the experience.
“This new concept embodies an entirely new mindset based on constant adaptation, with a view to more effectively anticipating and meeting consumer expectations while maintaining close, trusting relationships with the customers who shop at our banners,” Naouri said in his statement.