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Gen AI at work: The story of Carrefour Marketing Studio
February 1, 2024

Carrefour Marketing Studio, developed with Google, pioneers generative artificial intelligence. From VivaTech to practical marketing applications, it’s a groundbreaking Gen AI initiative. Get the story behind this success!

Last year, a major breakthrough sparked from the digital world to shake all companies’ strategies: the generative artificial intelligence, aka ‘Gen AI.’ This AI doesn’t only rely on data to solve a challenge; it also creates new data such as text, image, video, and music. 

Whereas for many years, Gen AI used to be reserved for research and experts only, everything changed when OpenAI democratized it with ChatGPT, a chatbot powered by generative artificial intelligence. We relied on it to launch ‘Hopla,’ our ChatGPT-based chatbot on

A swift and robust reaction immediately followed from tech companies to democratize their Gen AI tools. Some impressive and efficient technologies were released, such as Vertex AI, Google’s generative AI platform based on the Google Cloud Platform. Thanks to Carrefour and Google partnership, we became the first retailer to adopt this brand new Gen AI platform and developed the ‘Carrefour Marketing Studio’ — our innovative solution to generate marketing campaigns in a few clicks.

Meet Carrefour Marketing Studio!

Exploring the Gen AI magic

As a DigitalRetail company, we rely on tech companies to provide us with disruptive components, enabling us to build our own solutions. This also involves adopting a ‘test and learn’ approach, which is the mission of our Innovation department. Following the Gen AI breakthrough, we collaborated with our business teams to identify more than 40 concrete use-cases tailored to their needs. Our goal was to test as many Gen AI platforms as possible, as quickly as possible.

The most significant challenge was with the ‘Carrefour Marketing Studio.’ We were four weeks away from Viva Technology, a major exhibition dedicated to innovation and startups held in Paris, France. We knew the solution we wanted to design for our marketing teams and our ambition: delivering a mind-blowing app based on Gen AI to showcase at VivaTech. However, we still needed to secure the right technological stack to achieve this. Google stepped in with Vertex AI, providing us with premium support, and suggested that we jointly present this solution at their booth during the innovation fair. Challenge accepted… and completed! 

But first, let’s explore what Carrefour Marketing Studio is exactly.

Reveal of Carrefour Marketing Studio to the marketing teams

Features and benefits of Carrefour Marketing Studio

Carrefour Marketing Studio is a tool designed to streamline the process of creating dynamic campaigns across various social networks such as X, Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads, and more. With a user-friendly interface, it empowers marketing teams to efficiently promote products and engage with their target audience.

Imagine you want to promote Carrefour healthy breakfast products, such as organic avocado and fruits, bread, yogurt… Carrefour Marketing Studio simplifies this process by automatically retrieving product information from our data lake. This autofill feature not only saves time but also ensures accuracy in presenting product details through templates that comply with our design system.

Marketing teams can customize their campaigns by setting various criteria to specifically target their desired audience. For example, they can select a tone of voice that resonates with the product, adding a personalized touch. In terms of the picture to display, they can also choose to use a real product image or leverage Gen AI magic to create one autonomously.

What sets Carrefour Marketing Studio apart is its ability to generate multiple variants with a few clicks, adapting to Carrefour’s diverse product range.

Demo of all Carrefour Marketing Studio features.

Carrefour’s data lake: Fueling precision in Gen AI

Generative AI is a new step in the AI journey. We have been able to move forward fast, because we have already built the biggest data lake in Europe for a retailer, on Google Cloud. Indeed, Gen AI requires a lot of data, and at Carrefour, we have them: 10 bn transactions! Our data lake encompasses a wealth of information about our customers, products, stores, employees, and beyond. Leveraging this data warehouse, we meticulously train our models, enhancing their precision and making better Gen IA usage. The generated content is more accurate and more relevant to our customers and our organization.

Carrefour has a rich history in the realm of AI, having employed it extensively for tasks such as optimizing store product assortments and proactively addressing inventory shortages. To drive innovation and smoothly integrate transformative technologies, we assembled a dedicated team of passionate and skilled individuals focused on Generative AI.

Generated content from our data lake’s product information.

Carrefour Marketing Studio’s dream team

The Carrefour Marketing Studio made a significant impact at the VivaTech exhibition, garnering positive feedback from numerous visitors. Similarly, at the NRF Big Show (National Retail Federation) a few days ago, our solution was showcased to the public and presented to Thomas Kurian (Google Cloud CEO) and 20 US C-level executives in an exclusive meeting focused on Gen AI.

Such an achievement is the result of fantastic teamwork and we can dare to say that the Carrefour Marketing Studio is becoming a benchmark. 

Certainly, Google provided us with the right tools – advanced ones – and top-notch support, courtesy of Sebastian Caucheteux, an enterprise cloud architect. However, finding the right talent within Carrefour to design the solution was equally essential. To achieve this, we assembled a small team from our Innovation department and Data platform. Alongside us (Ed.: Hélène Labaume and Alaa El Helw), there were Simon Basset (Software Architect), Adil El Baraka (Tech engineer intern), Hassan Al Rifai (UX designer), and Louis Mangin (project owner support). 

As the lead architect on this 4-week initiative (Ed.: Alaa), I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen to bring to life this incredible application. But I would like to highlight a simple fact: I was able to focus on leading this project, thanks to my manager, Stéphane Cuilla, head of data platform, and my colleagues from this very department. Achieving this project puts the spotlight on this crucial department and their behind the scenes work that acts as the backbone of the company. I’m very grateful for their support and I hope that this project will help them get the recognition they deserve.

A part of the Carrefour Marketing Studio team during the award ceremony from the French LSA journal (from left to right): Hassan Al Rifai, Hélène Labaume, and Alaa El Helw.

Another app ‘made by Carrefour and for Carrefour’

Our motto at Carrefour is to develop digital products made by us and for us. The Carrefour Marketing Studio is no exception to the rule. Throughout the project, we embrace this philosophy, breaking boundaries – three departments worked together: Marketing, Innovation and Data platform. Gathering the feedback of marketing teams was essential to design a solution that catered to their needs.

We were eager to create a user-friendly interface. However, with Gen AI, it’s not that simple, as the key ingredient to generate meaningful content is to have the best ‘prompt’ ever. The ‘prompt’ refers to the request made by the user to the Gen AI platform, written in natural language. Yet, marketing teams have other responsibilities beyond writing a 25-line prompt.

The interface of Carrefour Marketing Studio needed to precisely target what users wanted to nurture a kind of prompt template crafted by our prompt engineer. We predefined snippets of prompts to be sent to the Google platform via an API (Application Programming Interface). For example, the target age range, whether they are promotion-oriented consumers, or if they are prospects…

Unleashing Carrefour Marketing Studio’s potential

From an exploratory phase, Carrefour Marketing Studio is now moving into a scaling phase, with ongoing tests for even more advanced use cases. We will mention for example generation of ‘audio content’.

The ‘audio content’ initiative expands the role of Carrefour Marketing Studio to script development for radio and YouTube campaigns, positioning it as a comprehensive solution for multi-channel marketing. While advancements in radio content creation are ongoing, one thing is certain: continuous improvement remains a constant pursuit to meet the expectations of viewers and listeners.

We also want to scale up the Carrefour Marketing Studio to our countries. We’ve currently working with France and Spain. More to come very soon!

Carrefour Marketing Studio during the NRF Big Show.

In a nutshell, during our ongoing testing and learning, Carrefour Marketing Studio explores the vast realm of Gen AI. This marks just the start of our venture, with Carrefour, in collaboration with our Google partner, committed to unveiling more innovations in generative artificial intelligence!

At Carrefour, we are incorporating Generative AI into our projects to enhance the functionality and user experience of our applications. We recognize the immense potential of this technology, viewing it not as a replacement for human capabilities, but as a powerful tool that can streamline processes, thereby allowing us to redirect our efforts towards more important and engaging tasks.

About the Author

Innovation & VC Funds Director

As the director of the Innovation and Venture Capital Funds Group, Hélène's day-to-day involves shaping Carrefour's future. This includes leading innovative projects, investing in startups, and identifying emerging trends within the startup ecosystem. She works closely and cross-functionally with all business teams involved in the Group's digital transformation. Before Carrefour, Hélène worked in specialized retail, starting her career as an M&A lawyer. Finding the perfect coffee ice cream would be a lifetime achievement for her!

VP engineering data apps & innovation

As a lead architect at Carrefour since 2016, Alaa specializes in data-driven projects and Generative Artificial Intelligence. With over 7 years of experience, he has led innovative initiatives within the Carrefour data platform and the Innovation department, showcasing the value of these systems for customers, associates, and partners. Played a key role in recruiting and managing developers for multiple projects, contributing significantly to Carrefour's digital transformation. Outside of work, you'll often find him either savoring pizza or building Legos!

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