The phenomenon of the Drive service in France is showing no signs of abating with Carrefour announcing plans to open 400 drives in its domestic market by the end of 2013.
Carrefour is the latest French retailer to expand its Drive sector. Having opened its first Drive in 2010, the retailing giant now has 177 Drive outlets – 102 of which are linked to its Carrefour Market supermarkets, 68 to its Carrefour Hypermarkets and seven are standalone Drives.
Retailers are investing in new Drive sites to grow market share in the current difficult economic climate. A dedicated warehouse that is closed to public means there is no retail licence needed, the limited stock offering allows for fewer staff than what is required in a hypermarket or supermarket.
Shoppers can drive to a warehouse to collect their online orders; consumers have embraced the free click-and-collect service with many preferring to buy everything but perishable foods using this method. France is a leader in such innovation in recent years.
Since the hypermarket group Auchan opened the first in-store pickup system in northern France in 2000, the retailing phenomenon continues to grow in the country. The system has been very effective for both retailers and consumers.
While Auchan was the leader to begin with, its rival Leclerc now has more than 200 Drives and hopes to expand this by 100 by the end of the year. The retailer estimated that it will have 400 open by 2015.
Casino has around 117 Drives in operation under its Casino Express banner. It includes a dedicated website, www.Casino Express.fr.
The picking model is the cheapest model and preferred by Carrefour, Casino, Intermarché and System U. Staff carry out the shop for the customer and leave the products at a collection point. Other models include a dedicated warehouse located beside a retail store and a solo warehouse, which is too capital intensive, according to Casino. Meanwhile, Leclerc believes solo is the future. Systeme U is planning to have 1,000 solo Drives within the next five years.
Shoppers have welcomed online shopping with the ability to carry out competitor price monitoring on preferred products to gather retail price intelligence before making a final purchasing decision. After placing their orders and selecting a collection time within a time range, the order is finalised and delivered to the customer’s vehicle.
Customers can pay online or at an interactive kiosk when collecting the order. Prices are usually the same as in the retailer’s store.Valette says that retailers bet consumers will “re-invest time saved with the Drive” in other purchases in the hypermarkets.
Sales generated from Drive are estimated to rise to five billion euros ($6 billion) by 2015 from one billion this year, says market research firm Kantar Worldpanel. For retailers, having Drive is no guarantee of success, but “not having it is a handicap”, said Frederic Valette, head of retail insights at Kantar.
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