E.Leclerc Relais, a solution to the last mile?

Date : 08 May 2019

E.Leclerc continues the development of its pedestrian Drives in city centres. The retailer only had hypermarkets and supermarkets, meaning it has nearly no presence in cities. Therefore, the pedestrian Drives are a strategic format for growth as it enables it to enter new locations and attract new shoppers.

We recently visited one of the newest stores, in Paris, which opened in March 2019 acting as a small urban warehouse for deliveries and collections.

E.Leclerc Relais, boulevard Saint-Michel, Paris

Source: IGD Research

 

The store, a collection point only, is located in the centre of Paris in the 6th arrondissement, next to several universities. On top of grocery orders made on E.Leclerc Chez Moi, shoppers can collect purchases from any of the retailer’s other online shops (beauty, books, wine, etc). Grocery orders made before 10am will be available for collection in the afternoon of the same day.

According to the store’s manager, when choosing the location, E.Leclerc aimed at attracting students looking for hypermarket’s prices and offer. But shoppers’ profile is more varied than expected, including families and young professionals. Two members of staff, out of a team of four, welcome shoppers from 9am to 9pm every day.

 

Source: IGD Research

 

Orders are prepared in a warehouse in Longes, in the suburbs of Paris. The store also offers home delivery within a radius of 2km. The retailer has invested in bikes as part of its environmental strategy and to make deliveries easier in cities.

E.Leclerc plans 80 openings in Paris, within the next four years, with the goal of having a store every 500m.

The importance of human contact

In the same street, less than 500m away, Intermarché opened its first unstaffed 24/24 pickup point in 2018. The E.Leclerc Relais manager said, in addition to first time online shoppers, it also attracted some from the Intermarché pick up point. One of the reasons mentioned by shoppers is the presence of staff at the collection point. The human contact seems to be reassuring when testing a new way of shopping. It also enables the retailer to be more reactive and offer an immediate solution if there is an issue with an order.

The solution to the last mile?

Making home delivery profitable has been difficult for retailers, with the last mile being one the most challenging point. Most French retailers now have a dedicated collection area in their existing stores located in city centres. It allows them to save on delivery costs with some retailers managing to deliver online orders with the store’s supply.  

But the small storage capacity in existing stores limits the number of orders. The pedestrian Drives offer a bigger storage and act as urban warehouses for ultra-local home deliveries.

The collection points offer advantages for both retailers and shoppers. It gives more flexibility to shoppers thanks to the wider collection time slots. For retailers, bringing pickup points closer to shoppers eases the collection for shoppers. More importantly it is an efficient way to partly reduce the last mile’s costs, at least for small grocery shopping as larger items will still need to be delivered.

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