Carrefour lays out omnichannel vision

French retail giant Carrefour had laid out its vision to create a “unique omnichannel universe” using technology to be “more selective, more simple and more competitive” by 2022.

This was according to the company’s director of replenishment transformation Franck Noel-Fontana, who explained the strategy at the Xcelerate Symphony Retail Forum in Paris.

He laid out the brand’s path towards building a responsive retail supply chain aimed at matching changing consumer needs.

“Our supply chain can’t stay linear and must evolve,” said Noel-Fontana. “In the old days there was only one point of contact, the physical store – but this time is over, now the customer journey is like a loop and the company must give all delivery channels” he continued, adding that this new complexity “forces us to become omnichannel”.

Carrefour has a network of 60 warehouses delivering 25,000 items from 6,000 suppliers to more than 5,000 stores.

“We must have the right stock at the right place, avoiding waste and overstock,” pointed out Noel-Fontana. “There’s also an increasing need to supply fresh local products, which require us to be more agile.”

Currently, the company has two separate teams for warehouses and stores, each with their own systems and processes, something which leads to waste and inefficiency, he stated.

“The tool we are currently using to make orders from suppliers dates from the previous century,” Noel-Fontana commented. “There’s very little automation, everything is mixed and manually operated, with no optimisation.”

He went on to state the need for digitisting the order process, while automating low value add tasks from the warehouse to shop floor, with auto-alerts to flag up future blocking points.

In July, Carrefour France extended its artificial intelligence (AI) partnership with Symphony RetailAI.

The deal covers three strategic areas: warehouse replenishment for its hypermarkets, supermarkets and retail outlets, plus e-commerce activities (drive-through pick up and home delivery); inventory flow optimisation to model and simulate the flow of goods; and supply chain insights via dashboards providing full visibility on service rates, merchandise flows and inventory levels.

While Noel-Fontana said it was still too early to draw conclusions from the partnership, he noted that after two months of production there has been a 12 per cent reduction in unnecessary inventory and a 10 per cent reduction in overall costs, with no technical bugs.

“It’s very encouraging, but we’re aiming for 35 per cent reduction in inventory and a reduction of outdated inventory by half, as well as lowering supply costs and increasing on-shelf availability,” he added.

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