How consumers are driving retail transformations: “More data, please!”

A study, conducted by OpinionWay on behalf of Alkemics shows that 83% of people in France seek out information about food products. This stems from a desire to choose quality products that are better for their health, as well as those made in France when possible. How can consumers navigate and find information in an era of hyper-choice? And how can retailers rethink shopper experience in-store?

For more transparency


One thing is for sure: they won’t necessarily wait to be in a store to seek out this information, and not all the information they need can necessarily be found there. For 64% of people in France, packaging is still the classic way to find product information.

However, a new resource has emerged:consumer apps are now used by nearly 2 out of 10 people in France. These are excellent numbers for these apps, which had not yet been developed 3 years ago. The star among them, Yuka, was created in 2017, and now sees 14 million downloads and 2 million products scanned per day.

Manufacturers have become aware of the importance of sharing product information through these apps. “Our job is to assist the shopper throughout the entire customer journey, and transparency is no longer optional.

This is because consumer apps are a point of contact that is seeing increasing use.” Explained Emmanuelle Orgogozo, Director of Omnichannel Development with Labeyrie Fine Foods. “We no longer ask ourselves whether or not it is necessary — it’s our job to coordinate our operations to provide the required nutritional information about our products via these apps.”

This means that complete and accurate product data is essential, not only to ensure regulatory compliance but also to attract consumers and gain their trust. Brands, well beyond the food industry, are making transparency a key aspect of their business.

Le 4 Casino

For a new in-store experience

In a data-oriented landscape, stores have a greater role to play than ever. In order to differentiate themselves from pure-player competitors, these retailers need to become product experts, able to offer true added value with the advice they provide. In addition to the classic descriptive information on products, retailers also need access to manuals, technical specifications, guidelines, etc.

In practice, salespeople are now facilitating an “augmented retail” environment, with a variety of digital resources at hand to support them in selling their products: catalogs, configurators, express check-out solutions, etc. These resources enable them to focus on addressing questions from consumers, who are also connected and well-informed.

Stores themselves are also undergoing transformations to create an information-rich customer experience. Among these cutting-edge new projects is “4 Casino”, featuring a series of in-store innovations that include a “wine chart” that suggests food and wine pairings when a bottle is scanned, electronic SES-imagotag labels displaying Nutri-score and quality ratings, etc.

“In our store Le 4 Casino, we have developed a concept where digital innovations serve the customer experience and new consumer needs. We felt it was essential to be able to offer a new type of product range, as well as to promote product transparency,” explained Cyril Bourgois, Director of Strategy, Digital Transformation and Innovation for the Casino Group.

To do this, electronic labels, whose data is supplied automatically via Alkemics, display both prices and information such as organic certifications, Nutri-scores, allergy information, etc. Through this new collaboration, we can also improve the efficiency of our customised marketing tools thanks to increased product knowledge.

Cyril Bourgois, Director of Strategy, Digital Transformation and Innovation for Groupe Casino

More data for new applications

Of course, data has always played an essential role in retail operations. Nowadays, all departments and processes also rely on the quality of the available data. These include:

  • Logistics: Nowadays, various different types of information are needed: product weight for self checkout scales, along with product dimensions to optimise online order preparations, fill delivery bags, organize upstream transport (to massify transport between small producers and warehouses), parcel integrity specifications for robotic handling, etc.
  • Stores: data about exact dimensions, down to the millimetre, as well as high-quality visuals are required to create planograms in an automated manner.
  • Quality & CSR: As retailer requirements are becoming increasingly strict, it is now necessary to possess health and safety certificates, production charters, commitments regarding working conditions, information on materials and the recyclability of packaging, Bcorp and PME+ certifications, etc.
  • E-commerce: this data not only includes basic information that must provided in stores (composition, allergy information, nutritional information, origins and production methods for fruits and vegetables, fishing zones and practices, etc.) but also engaging content on the product’s origins and uses (recipes, product tutorials, etc.)
  • Customizing the product range: The objective here is to adapt in-store product ranges to local customers, as well as customising how products are displayed online based on customer buying habits and lifestyles.

To do this, retailers need to base their approach on the attributes that are most important to their customers: gluten-free or organic labelling, product origin, cheese strength, shelf life of wine, etc.

All of this new data can also be used in artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, and contribute to sustaining on overall dynamic of continuous improvement.

From operational optimisation to addressing new consumer expectations, AI systems (and the data needed to operate them) has launched the “augmented retail” era. In other words, retail that has a greater ability to self-evaluate and respond to market feedback, as well as offer newer, more intelligent services.

This is notably the case with automated and personalised promotions, which use an analysis of buying history and predictive models to offer the right product to the right person at the right time. Mass promotions are over!

Given that data now needs to be used in an omni-channel context with a largely automated supply chain, Casino decided to centralise their data management approach in order to ensure that the entire organisation has access to the information they need.

Product data can, and must, have a wide variety of applications within the company. It’s no longer the domain of just a few professionals. Data needs to play a role in all areas: marketing and promotions, logistics, listings, merchandising, CSR, etc. This means it is necessary to use a single tool to collect this data, then use it in an omni-channel manner, in each different context”

Clément Lubin, Supply Chain and Data Director at Groupe Casino

Read more in the report „Supplier Relations 3.0“ by Accenture and Alkemics about where the industry stands in the transformation to more product transparency and which innovative organisational models can help to meet the new challenges.

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Antoine Durieux

Antoine Durieux is the founder of Alkemics. Trained at Polytechnique and Stanford, Antoine specialises in artificial intelligence and the most advanced techniques taking advantage of Machine Learning and semantic analysis. On his return to France, he created Alkemics based on a universal product language based on human perception of consumer products. Understandable by the whole industry, this language is today at the heart of the first collaborative intelligence network for brands and retailers and allows them to address the challenges of multi-channel marketing and personalisation of the consumer journey.

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