This week in the Part-Dieu region of Lyon, France, passersby were surprised at a new type of “pop-up store” – a 9×9 stand filled with images of 300+ supermarket goods lined with barcodes – Carrefour’s 1st experiment at a virtual store. The test store will be available until October 18th, thought another store is expected to open in Paris between October 10th and 31st in Paris’ Gare Du Nord trainstation.
Designed for working adults with a busy schedule, who have no time to walk through large supermarkets, wait in checkout lines, and carry everything home, The virtual market allows you to fill up your ‘cart’ by downloading a free iphone/Android app Mes Courses (“My Groceries”). Once groceries are ‘picked out,’ shoppers get to decide whether they’d like to have groceries delivered directly to their home, or whether they’d like to use “Carrefour Drive,” a service that Carrefour has had for awhile that allows shoppers to pick up their groceries at their local Carrefour after having ordered online. The virtual markets are manned by two hostesses, who help shoppers get accustomed to the new shopping experience.
Supermarket giant Tesco brought a similar idea to South Korea over a year ago in train stations. In America, online grocery site Peapod has been testing in cities like Chicago for a few months, and according to an article in techli this week, there will soon be virtual stores in several major cities in the US.
We wrote a while back about the rise of the mobile shopping in France, with players like ISAI-backed Shopmium, venture-backed Prixing, and LeCamping’s Skerou hoping to grab the attention of shoppers. I’m not sure how mobile apps like Mes Courses will affect their strategy.