The Carrefour Hypermarket Mons (Bergen) in Belgium is a perfect example of the 'open oven’ trend. The open oven allows shoppers to see with their own eyes how the product is prepared ‘on the spot’. A response to the growing demand from the consumer for freshness and transparency. We spoke to Baptiste van Outryve, director of PR & Corporate Communication at Carrefour, about the store of tomorrow.
Baker in view
'Although unfairly, many of our customers have long had the perception that the majority of our traditional bakery products were produced elsewhere.' Many supermarkets have to contend with this image. 'It’s partly our fault, we’ve hidden our bakeries behind brick walls for years.' This has now changed. With the new approach in their ‘hypermarkets’, they’re going back to the basics of freshness. 'We have shifted the bakery to the front of the shop and put all the products in view again. Customers can now see the actual baker, patissier and chocolatier at work.'
Such a change has a major impact on the logistical process. 'The products are delivered to the back of the store in Mons (Bergen), so straight into the original bakery. With a store measuring almost 12,000 m2, the ingredients then need to be moved through the store. It’s quite a distance. Because we don’t want to get in the customer’s way by having to haul ingredients through the store during opening hours, the daily supplies are stored on the actual department. This is then re-stocked daily in the morning before opening.'
5,000 training hours
'To ensure that the staff can get to grips with all of these changes, we have invested more than 5,000 training hours in the nearly 300 employees.' And not just to help them adjust to the new procedures and processes that were introduced from one day to the next. We also trained some of the staff in customer contact: diverse "freshness experts" that previously worked behind the scenes now explain the preparation process, answer questions and give advice to the customers. This role was completely new for a few of them.'
The store of today
'In order to adapt your concept successfully, you can’t simply make decisions at the head-office about what we are going to do in Mons (Bergen), without involving the staff and customers there. This is why we brought all the managers and department heads together. We asked them how they would design their "ideal store of today", no holds barred. Explicitly the store of today, not the day after tomorrow. A store must of course be built with a view to the future, but we weren’t looking for ideas for a futuristic concept store. We looked for ways to better connect with the local market, things that are relevant now and thus deliver direct benefits. We also had quite a few round-tables with customers. This enabled us to identify the local needs and wishes. Take for example our pizzerias. Mons (Bergen) has a relatively large Italian community. And so we now make fresh pizza in-store.”
'We want the client to experience shopping in the store, rather than just doing their shopping. And customer satisfaction surveys tell us that we are succeeding. A second objective we have achieved is maintaining the same price-perception. Even though the store looks fantastic, we don’t want to be classified as a premium store. And finally, we attract more customers that spend more. In view of the success, we’ll definitely be rolling this out in other Carrefour hypermarkets. Thanks to the available square footage, the concept really comes into its own in the hypermarkets. Most important is that craftsmanship is increasingly put centre stage. But other hypermarkets will never simply be a copy-paste version of Mons (Bergen). We always continue to look at the local needs of the customer.'
The hyper is going local
'In Carrefour Mons (Bergen) we have more than 1,500 local products on offer, produced within a radius of 40 kilometres by small producers, farmers or artisans. A number of fresh products, but also delicatessen and chocolate specialties. These deals are made directly with the supplier, outside of the central purchasing system. We even have a separate department set up in the store.' Besides this local selection, Carrefour also pays attention to national products. 'We therefore introduced the "Belgatarian" label. The funny thing is, as Carrefour we never really claimed this term, but it’s now become a bit of a household phrase and consumers are asking at other retail stores too. We’re clearly filling a need in the market.'
Are you interested in how Puratos can support your 'open oven' concept, or would like us to help you getting it set up? Contact your local Puratos representative and schedule a meeting.
Disclaimer: the selection of this concept was done on an editorial basis. There is no commercial link in relation to this article.