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Carrefour Opens a Connected Supermarket

The French retailer materialises their partnership with the Chinese tech company Tencent as they present a new concept of high-tech store in Shanghai. Carrefour allows their customers to pay using their WeChat Pay and identify via face recognition. A way for Carrefour to make room for the connected commerce trend.

This connected store called Le Marché proposes imported products and includes a restaurant area as well as several self-checkout counters. The point is to renew their users’ experience through integrating next-generation technologies for the in-store the customer process.

At first, Le Marché seems like an ordinary store, since only the checkout step is being applied innovative technologies. Once the items scanned by the cashier, the customer is prompted to use a tablet to key in the last four digits of the phone number he paired with his WeChat Pay account. This tablet includes a camera, allowing for face identification. Tencent’s wallet app then checks that this selfie complies with the picture on his ID, provided upon subscribing the account.

Le Marché also proposes other checkout options, including self-scanning –where the customer scans his products using a dedicated self-service cash register– and a scan and go option –allowing them to scan the items with their smartphone and pay with WeChat.

Comments – Another step towards digitalising the customer process

Carrefour’s sales figure in China has been climbing down over the past three years, and this retailer happens to have been falling behind when it comes to considering connected commerce. Through this strategic partnership, they might be able to reach out for more locations throughout the country: they rely on Tencent’s technologies to catch up. This launch materialises a partnership signed in January 2018. It is also in line with their Carrefour 2022 transformation plan. This agreement should help these partners challenge aggressive competition from Alibaba, as this e-commerce specialist also launched a similar face recognition-based concept combined with Alipay. The idea is the same: allowing customers to pay without even pulling out their phone, nor their wallet.

Unlike the Amazon Go store, Le Marché doesn’t come across as a revolution in terms of automation and time-saving. Yet, it is a way for Tencent to improve their image recognition algorithms, and a first step for both partners on the path towards the future of retail.