French supermarket giant books a seat on the e-commerce train

Mobile commerce is set to revolutionise the retail environment in the next few years. Just ask the head of online at France’s largest supermarket chain, Carrefour.


The global economy may be melting faster than Arctic ice, but there’s one sector that is  bucking recessionary trends: online retailing.


Figures show that m-commerce is the fastest growing market segment in Europe. Worth €4.7 billion in 2003, it grew around 20 percent last year to €171.9 billion – or 5.5 percent of all retail spending. In contrast, the US growth stalled in 2008 and increased only 10 percent last year.


According to Forrester Research Vice President Patti Freeman Evans, while the major sectors in Western Europe continue to emerge from the shadow of the financial crisis, e-commerce continues to gain awareness and, more importantly, traction among consumers. ‘We expect that e-business and channel strategy professionals will promote online self-service to decrease costs, improve the multi-channel customer experience and keep their customers engaged.’


It’s a trend that crosses sector boundaries, from clothing, books and music to electrical goods and groceries. According to Jean-Christophe Hermann, Vice President of Online and Multi-Channel at French supermarket chain Carrefour, ‘a page in retailing has well and truly turned.


‘Today, e-commerce consists of so many players, often using discount models, where profitability is difficult,” he was reported as saying. “Our strategy has always been to use the internet to bring customers into our stores. But studies show that consumers want the product immediately and without charges and we realised that our economic model is much smaller if the buying experience ends at the store,’ says Hermann.


Enter online sales and, latterly, m-commerce which required a revamped mobile website and mobile applications for the iPhone.


‘The true potential for m-commerce is to provide consumers with a valuable tool for research, comparison shopping and retailer interaction. This will, I believe, not only meet the needs of customers but also maximise growth across all channels,’ he adds.


It’s one of the issues that Hermann will be keen to discuss at the Next Generation Retail Europe Summit 2011 which takes place at the Hotel President Wilson, Geneva from 5-7 April 2011. Featuring the top industry voices, and hosted by GDS International, the Summit will also turn the spotlight onto how to build a customer centric multi-channel business, retail demand intelligence, strategies for supply chain excellence and growth strategies.


Some of the key figures sharing their extensive skills and experience include Gil Guibert, CIO of Auchan, Oliver Kaye, Head of Retail Operations Europe at Tesco, and Silvester Macho, CIO of METRO Group.

Next Generation Retail Europe Summit 2011 is an exclusive C-level event reserved for 100 participants that includes expert workshops, facilitated roundtables, peer-to-peer networks and co-ordinated meetings.


For more information, visit


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