French grocer Casino goes cashierless in a preemptive move against Amazon Go

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Amazon has signaled it's interested in the French grocery market, and that's enough for local grocery chain Casino to counter Amazon Go's no-cashier model.

Called "Le Casino 4," Casino's no-cashier concept store is on Franklin D. Roosevelt Avenue near the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The store has a three-floor configuration with a wine and spirits cellar, a main floor with chefs creating sample dishes along with curated gourmet foods for purchase as well as a home delivery shopping area. An upper floor has a showroom from Cdiscount (Casino Group’s e-tailer).

Casino is partnering with French franchisee Pro Distribution to launch the store, which is an attempt to showcase Casino's technology before Amazon's expected entry into the French grocery scene. Casino reports it also collaborated with 15 other partners.
The French store is using design to differentiate from Amazon Go. In the Amazon Go stores, footprints are small and selection is limited, giving the feel of a convenience store, not a traditional supermarket. Also, in the Amazon store, the consumer shops almost unhindered by technology, other than opening a specific app upon entry through a turnstile at the store entrance. Checkout is also seamless: The consumer just exits the store, unless age-restricted items are purchased, in which case a store associate is required to verify the age of a purchaser.

The Le Casino 4 store has two ways to shop, one for in-store purchase and another for home delivery. The home delivery shopping experience leverages a giant digital wall with product images that Casino calls “the Picking Wall.” This is where consumers will shop for items from Casinos online grocery store and then can schedule delivery for later that evening. The second method, reported by Venturebeat and not included in the press release, includes consumers choosing from a curated selection of gourmet items in the store. For purchasing take-home items, the consumer must open a Casino-branded app and scan the items. When the consumer is done shop, they would then visit an unmanned kiosk where their phone would be scanned to confirm the purchases.

The “scan-purchase” app approach is similar to China’s BingoBox, which already has 300 stores in 30 cities across the county. In the case of Bingobox, consumers use the app to scan items for purchase instead of being monitored by cameras and sensors that would detect purchases on behalf of the consumer.

The third floor will Casino’s online e-tail website, Cdiscount. On this floor, the discount online retailer will display items currently for sale on its website. It’s similar to Amazon opening physical bookstores to display its wares. Casino will additionally featured an augmented reality digital display geared to entice shoppers with a whole new grocery shopping experience.

“The 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 [brands],” said Jean-Charles Naouri, chairman and CEO of the Casino Group, in a Tuesday press release.

Amazon, which expected to open 3,000 Go stores in the U.S. by 2020, has not revealed plans to expand Go to France. But Amazon earlier this year signed an agreement with French supermarket rival, Monoprix to start selling groceries to Prime customers in Paris and its suburbs.

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