Carrefour announced on Friday (26) the opening of its first two stores without personal assistance in Brazil. Inspired by the Amazon Go business model, the establishments are located in condominiums, one in São Bernardo do Campo and the other in the city of São Paulo, in the Brooklin neighborhood.
Both chain stores are identified as Carrefour Express, a division of the brand for small markets that resemble what would be a convenience store. According to the company, the customer arrives at the location and uses the Meu Carrefour application to enter the address with the help of a QR code on the cell phone screen, read by a totem on the door or on a turnstile.
Each product chosen on the shelves and refrigerators of the place must have the barcode scanned before going to a bag or basket. A virtual shopping cart is created and it is supplied with other products. When the customer finishes their purchases, payment can be made from anywhere in the store, through the application on the smartphone.
After this step, the person needs to show the QR code again on the entrance totem to have the exit cleared. Carrefour claims that it has attendants on a WhatsApp account to answer questions from customers, further increasing the social distance that is offered by this type of store.
The mechanics of scanning each product and making payment through the application is not new to Carrefour. Since mid-2018, the French market chain has its own stores, also identified as Carrefour Express, which allow the customer to make purchases in a similar way. Currently there are 40 addresses compatible with Scan & Go, as the company calls it.
What sets the two new stores apart from the dozens of existing locations is the presence of a traditional cashier in front of the address. In them, customers who bought by paying for the application need to make a quick conference with an employee who releases the exit, usually in a special queue and who does not go through the traditional service.
Carrefour experience is close to that of Amazon Go
Carrefour was inspired by the Amazon Go network, of small markets of the online retail giant itself. In this example, stores are located at dozens of addresses in the United States and are located either in closed areas or at points with direct access to the street.
In them, the user needs to have the store application, log in with the Amazon account and then scan a code on the turnstile. While in Carrefour Express the customer needs to read the bar code of each chosen product, in Amazon Go the site itself uses a huge amount of sensors spread across the ceiling and gondolas, to know who picked up each item – minus the paper bags they need be added manually.
Products are automatically added to the virtual cart, which can be emptied when returning an item. Another difference is in the exit from the store, which is done automatically on Amazon Go, without the need to scan the code again. The store knows that you left and payment is made automatically by credit card.
In an experience I had on Amazon Go while I was on vacation, I noticed that the employees really weren’t there for anything other than stock control on the shelves. Outside, other employees were assisting customers with any questions with the app or Amazon account.