Système U’s first ever pedestrian drive opened on 14 January 2020 in Montpellier, in southern France.
A test for Système U
The pedestrian drive opened in the centre of Montpellier, opposite a Monoprix store. It is owned and managed by the owners of the Castelnau-le-Lez supermarket, in the outskirts of Montpellier. Shoppers will have access to the 15,000 products available on Système U ecommerce. This is a learning opportunity for Système U, before potentially launching the concept in other cities soon.
Catching up with other major retailers
Leclerc, Auchan and Carrefour already operate pedestrian drives in major cities. France’s market leader, Leclerc, is the most advanced with the format and is currently testing a food-to-go counter at a pedestrian drive in Lille. In Montpellier, Leclerc operates two pedestrian drives, meaning the competition will become even stronger.
In France, pedestrian drive openings have been accelerating in the last 12 months, led by Leclerc. For major retailers this is a way to expend their operations in city centres with limited investment. This solution enables retailers to reduce the costs of the last mile delivery and improve the profitability of the service.
Disrupting other channels
With the wide assortment and low prices of a hypermarket, pedestrian drives are expected to compete directly with convenience stores.
Another area of disruption will be for organic foods; France is one of the largest markets in Europe. The organic product assortment available online isn’t necessary bigger than at physical specialists’ stores, but the lower prices are a major point of differentiation. By offering more affordable organic products, pedestrian drives will disrupt the category and retailers located in city centres, such as Naturalia and Bio c’ Bon.