What is Carrefour Links, the new platform at the heart of the digital transformation of the French retail giant?

New step in Carrefour’s digital transformation. Three years after the presentation by his boss, Alexandre Bompard, of his Carrefour 2022 transformation plan, which provided for 2.8 billion euros of investments over five years in digital, or 560 million euros per year, the group has just presented Carrefour Links, a new retail media and performance platform that should allow Carrefour partners to develop a better customer experience.

In this context, Carrefour Links brings together all of the French group’s solutions in terms of customer knowledge, retail media and performance. For these solutions to be effective, they obviously need to be supplied with data. And in this context, Carrefour intends to rely on its first-party data, which corresponds to all the data collected by the group on its customers (navigation, transactions, etc.). In particular, the platform will be fed by data from 80 million customers around the world, 50 million of whom hold a loyalty card. These data have thus enabled Carrefour to set up a data lake, which concentrates the data of 6 billion transactions, from which Carrefour Links can benefit.

Google, Criteo and LiveRamp, technological partners

To put this new platform into orbit, Carrefour has surrounded itself with three technological partners: Google, which has been helping itself since 2018 to equip itself with a high-performance digital environment to embrace connected commerce and thus compete with Amazon, but also Criteo, French specialist in advertising targeting, and LiveRamp, an American company that helps brands make better use of their data to improve the customer experience. These three partners have supported Carrefour in developing four families of solutions offered on Carrefour Links around four major Cs: capture, convert, communicate and understand.

With LiveRamp, Carrefour has thus designed Xperiences, a solution that aims to offer an optimal environment for digital marketing teams so that they can constitute highly qualified audiences, as well as Merch & Supply, a tool to facilitate collaboration around supply chain and commodity management. For its part, Criteo was called upon to create, Search & Display, a solution to ensure better digital visibility on Carrefour sites and applications. Note that the Carrefour.fr site claims 15 million unique visitors per month for the year 2020.

Finally, the French group relied on Google to develop Data Shopper, a tool for obtaining information on sales dynamics and consumer behavior with Google, so as to detect a sales trend from the data collected in the all Carrefour stores. As part of its new Carrefour Links platform, the retailer also offers Carrefour CRM, a relationship marketing platform to create interactive experiences with customers, such as shopping gamification for example.

The solutions offered on the Carrefour Links platform. Credit: Carrefour.

Carrefour in the footsteps of Walmart

With this new platform, Carrefour wants to gain ground in the retail media market which weighs 30 billion euros worldwide, including nearly 500 million in France. The French group is thus following the example of the Walmart Connect platform in the United States. In France, the Casino group is also trying to refine its digital marketing approach with its RelevanC division.

In this context, Carrefour cannot afford to wait in its digital transformation, especially since the figures encourage the group to increase its efforts tenfold in this regard. “20% of in-store sales are generated by digital marketing campaigns and 23% of products basketed on the group’s e-commerce sites result from recommendation algorithms», Says Elodie Perthuisot, executive director of e-commerce, data and digital transformation of the Carrefour group. Furthermore, “24 million French people have consulted Carrefour’s catalogs on YouTubeShe adds. These are all elements that have prompted the French distributor to work with its technological partners to create Carrefour Links, which is a new line of activity in its own right for the group.

The retail media market around the world. Credit: Carrefour.

50% of Carrefour’s applications in the cloud in 2022

With this platform already operational in France, and deployed by the end of the year in all countries where the group has stores, Carrefour is taking another step towards becoming a fully connected distributor. And this notably involves an increase in the importance of the cloud in the group’s ecosystem. “25% of the applications located at Carrefour have been switched to the cloud in less than two years, and it will be 50% in 2022 and then 100% eventually», Said Elodie Perthuisot on the occasion of the launch of Carrefour Links. To achieve this goal, the juggernaut of French distribution has indicated that it will renew its partnership with Google.

Beyond the cloud, the collaboration between the two groups has materialized through the creation of an “innovation lab” to bring together engineers from Carrefour and experts in artificial intelligence from Google Cloud. Together, they are responsible for developing new services and products to improve the purchasing journey of consumers. In this context, Carrefour has also created a space of 2,500 square meters close to Station F. This digital hub brings together around thirty Carrefour and Google employees, in contact with the teams in charge of digital within the distributor.

Sébastien Missoffe, CEO of Google France (left), and Alexandre Bompard, CEO of Carrefour (right). © Olivier Vigerie, Carrefour DR.

70% growth in 2020 for Carrefour’s food e-commerce

On the occasion of the inauguration of this hub two years ago, Alexandre Bompard, the CEO of the group, declared: “For Carrefour, this is one more signal that we are on the move. Who could have thought that one day, all of Carrefour’s departments could work together, and what is more with an external partner, and that it would be Google?Now it’s not just with Google. It’s also with Criteo and LiveRamp. Together, they created a platform to put into orbit an ecosystem conducive to the development of new marketing and sales services.

Carrefour even going so far as to talk about “Netflix” of food when it comes to discussing how its algorithms help its franchised stores to know which products will sell the best, the French group seems ready to take a further step in its digital transformation. Last year, Carrefour saw its turnover increase by 7.8% to 78.6 billion euros. The brand was able to count in particular the surge in food e-commerce in 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, which recorded growth of 70%. But it will be necessary to do even harder to contain the overflowing appetite of Amazon, which has just seized the rights of Ligue 1 to attract new subscribers to its Prime offer, which includes an express delivery service. However, delivery has become one of the sinews of war in retail which is shaking Carrefour and the other giants of French distribution.

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