Carrefour opens its first autonomous convenience stores in Brazil

Date : 07 April 2021

Oliver Butterworth

Retail Analyst

At the end of March 2021, Carrefour Brazil opened its first two fully autonomous stores. The stores use scan & go technology, which Carrefour is using in 40 Express stores, however these are its first unstaffed stores.

"We already have 40 stores with the scan & go system. Our innovation area is conducting robust work to create an ecosystem that connects all of our businesses in one application. The opening of autonomous stores is part of this journey". Luiz Rufino, Senior Director of Omnichannel, Digital and Innovation, Carrefour Brazil

How does the technology work?

Customers are required to download and create an account in the Meu Carrefour application. Within the app they select the Scan & Go icon, which provides them with a QR code which they scan on the turnstile or door to gain entry.

Source: RetailMedia

Inside the store, customers use their phone’s camera to scan each products’ barcode, which adds the products to a virtual shopping cart. Once the shop is complete, payment is made within the app (using a credit/debit card) and the customer re-scans their QR code to exit the store.

Source: Carrefour

Locations will support a test and learn approach

The stores are located in a residential condominium in São Bernardo do Campo (greater São Paulo) and in a commercial workplace in the upmarket Brooklin Neighbourhood (São Paulo city). The range of products consists of approx. 800 SKUs.

These controlled environments enable Carrefour to closely monitor the performance of these stores and to fine tune the technology and user experience prior to a potential wider roll out. 

Carrefour getting closer to customers

In 2020, Carrefour Brazil opened its first standalone Express store and also its first store within a residential condominium. These developments are enabling the business to get closer to its customers, which will be essential if it begins to expand the format in other parts of the country. 

Wider use of scan & go

Carrefour’s direct competitor GPA (part of the French Casino Group) implemented scan & go technology in its flagship convenience store, which opened in January 2020. Customers can use it to scan their groceries and also to make cashless payments at the in-store café.

Source: IGD Research

Source: IGD Research

Our view

Payment technology is evolving at pace in Brazil, as retailers look to speed up the payment process, giving greater convenience to the customer. Self-checkouts are not widely used but are gradually becoming more common. Despite this, the major retailers are looking further ahead and testing more advanced payment solutions.

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