Facing the looming threat of ecommerce giant Amazon’s automated stores, French grocery chain Casino has opened its first cashier-free location in Paris.
The store, called “Le Casino 4,” is located near the Champs-Élysées and promises, according to a press release, to be “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, chair and CEO 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 aggressively expands its own brick-and-mortar efforts through Amazon Go, cashierless stores that use sensors, artificial intelligence, and smartphones to streamline the shopping experience. 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 rival Monoprix has signed a deal to sell groceries through Amazon’s Prime loyalty program in Paris.
Meanwhile, Casino has unveiled its own vision for the future of retail.
The new store has three floors and offers 6,000 products. It’s open 24 hours, seven days a week. And it boasts a selection of organic products, a “smart wine and spirits cellar,” and sample dishes prepared by a chef. There is also a showroom for products from French ecommerce site Cdiscount and a free coworking space.
Outside the store, passersby will see an augmented reality digital display.
In addition to grabbing products onsite, shoppers have the option of ordering home delivery through a digital wall, where they can scan items and schedule delivery.
Of course, the main activity is still selecting from among the 6,000 products in the store. Image recognition allows shoppers to make purchases by using the Casino App on their phone and scanning the app at a self-service checkout.
The company says Le Casino 4 is an experiment, and it plans to give the store at least six months before evaluating its reception.
“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.