How DigitalRetail makes Carrefour the best franchisor in Italy
May 25, 2022

Digital is not only for our integrated stores: our franchisees need it as much. That’s why Carrefour Italy has come up with the most ambitious franchising strategy, with one goal: providing the best DigitalRetail services to become the best franchisor!

On October 1st 2021, Carrefour Italy announced an ambitious transformation program. This plan aimed at relaunching our growth dynamics, especially by improving the competitiveness of our hypermarkets and supermarkets, and developing the franchising model as well. What is important to know is that at Carrefour Italy, the franchising model is highly developed. We have more than 1,450 stores, of which about 1,000 are franchisees

Today, we are the first franchisor of large-scale distribution, both in the proximity channel and in supermarkets. Therefore, Carrefour Italy’s franchising model represents an element of differentiation in the Italian panorama and is a real lever for our expansion plans.

We collaborate with almost 340 small and medium sized entrepreneurs, who manage around 700 points of sale. We also work with master franchisees. For example, in January 2020, the supermarkets of Etruria Retail (Central Italy) and Apulia Distribuzione (Southern Italy) joined our network. These two master-franchisees develop the franchise in their own local area.

Each franchise has a key role for Carrefour, because they have knowledge of the territory and great entrepreneurial skills. On the other hand, we ensure that network entrepreneurs have access to all the experience of the Group, in terms of pricing strategies, product excellence, innovative solutions and efficient services.

New DigitalRetail services to support franchisees’ businesses

To ensure excellent service to our customers nationwide, it is essential to provide DigitalRetail solutions that facilitate the life of our entrepreneurs in their day-to-day activities. This is even more important as these solutions will be useful to the franchisees to strengthen their relationship with the end customer.

A franchisee is a professional who expects a high level of service. To make sure we meet their expectations, we have designed a strategy based on 4 principles. First, developing “personalized interactions” with each of them, from affiliation, to the opening of a new store, to integrated support management. Then, having an “integrated merchandising” to better manage assortment and stock availability, in order to avoid product shortage.Another principle is having a “consistent in-store experience“, which means standardizing store assets and services to all franchisees, no matter what their format. Last but not least, providing them with new “DigitalRetail services”, to support their daily activities and enable new revenue streams.

To develop the fourth principle, we have relied on the first one: we met with our franchisees and spoke to them to determine what kind of new DigitalRetail services they really needed to develop their businesses. We came up with a package subscription model: the Netflix of DigitalRetail services! Which is easily and quickly deployable for entrepreneurs, according to their needs.

The different kinds of service packages offered to the franchisees

A new network, easy to use and high performing

We are not going to detail all the DigitalRetail services, but let’s see the main ones. Starting with the one that is an enabler for all of the others: the network. We have designed a brand new network package, which frees the franchisee from investment burdens and technical complexity.

Before our network package, franchisees had to buy several services from external companies, in order to gain access to connectivity, payments, maintenance, etc. Now, they have access to the network services only for a simple monthly fee. It provides connectivity to the Carrefour network and to the Internet in a single solution.

No bad surprises, everything is included: backups, maintenance, repairs and replacements. Speed and reliability performance are guaranteed as well by the Carrefour tech teams.

Everything is easy with our brand new network package, no more head-scratchers!

A new ecosystem improving online and offline customer journey

The e-commerce service is spreading among our affiliates. We provided them with a tailored service capable of “localizing” their online activity and products. We developed a new ecosystem with our partner Salesforce, which allows our stores a high degree of autonomy to manage online services by themselves, such as: store locator, drive-to-store capabilities, e-catalogues and so on.

We also wanted to improve the customer’s offline journey, so we extended the Salesforce solution to better manage our stores. For example, we created a check-up list to review the store’s core processes like security, quality assurance, and so on. 

More important – and more challenging – we needed this ecosystem to be adopted by the stores. We were able to check all the boxes with Salesforce. The platform allows our stores to activate, serve and deliver to their clients. Almost all our stores adopted it.

We can now deliver the same experience across all stores and channels to better serve our customers everywhere, especially locally. It is a real differentiator in the market!

On, franchisees can manage their online activity and products

A new app to track deliveries in real-time

We have provided our franchisees with a new platform and mobile app, through which they can easily monitor warehouses to store deliveries. We offer them  maximum visibility and accuracy on the delivery time. 

Trucks are geolocalized in real time, so stores can now arrange their agendas according to the estimated time of arrival. This way they can better organize their receptions, without wondering “where’s my delivery?”.

This platform improves the level of service to the franchisees and reduces time consuming interactions between the warehouses and the stores.

Carrefour’s delivery tracking mobile app interface
Carrefour’s delivery tracking platform interface

A new electronic shelf label system

At Carrefour, electronic shelf labels (ESL) have been taking more and more space in our stores, replacing the old fashioned printed tags. They’re part of the broader digitalization plan, which we are carrying out in the entire group. We wanted our franchisees to embark on this project as well, so that they would benefit from the same technology as in our integrated stores. 

Replacing paper tags might not seem like a big deal at first, but the impact is actually quite huge. Let’s start with the obvious one: it makes tag modification easier, allowing stores to adapt prices very fast. There is no need to print any tag anymore, which helps to reduce printing and paper wastage while also reducing the workload. 

In short, electronic labels improve stores’ agility. It has never been easier to display the latest promotions to the customer. A simple and well-known rule: displaying the right prices leads to customer satisfaction. 

We also started to replace our electronic labels based on radiofrequency, with the most innovative ones, that use the Optical Pricer technology. Keeping the innovation cycle going and offering it to all our stores is a must.

A Pricer employee coming to one of our franchisee’s store to deploy new tags

A new payment system powered by Market Pay

We also wanted to provide our franchisees with a best in class payment solution, so they have the right solution at the right price, right from the start! 

We came up with a fantastic package thanks to our partner Market Pay. It includes digital solutions such as smart payment: Satispay, Google Pay, Apple Pay. It also provided access to the e-commerce payments module for unique solutions on all channels! The customer can use this module to pay for shopping online or in-store.

The package goes from classic solutions such as e-commerce solutions and competitive credit card commissions; to more advanced ones like a complete transactional reporting, a single support platform for payments, and a single integrated payment terminal (credit cards, coupons, vouchers).

A new meal ticket payment offer

We noticed that a lot of our customers were eager to use electronic meal vouchers when they shop online or in-store. To fulfill their wishes, we have integrated this feature on, with the help of Edenred.

Since then, all our franchisees have been able to offer customers the opportunity to use meal vouchers to pay for their shopping in-store. A significant breakthrough since we are the first on the market to do so!

A new way to collaborate with Google Workspace

Collaboration and communication are key to succeed, and with great collaboration comes… great collaborative tools! But as a franchisee it’s rather hard to equip yourself with the right tools and devices, which is why we took this matter into consideration and offered them the best solution available on the market: Google Workspace

Our franchisees can now access communication and organization tools like Gmail, Agenda, Drive, Meet, to the classics like Docs, Sheets and Slides. Since the implementation phase, our franchisees came back to us with great reviews! 

The whole set of tools delivered by Workspace by Google

What’s next for our franchisees? 

As you can see, we offer a large range of new services to our franchisees. This is only the beginning: many new projects are in the pipeline. For example, we are planning the complete overhaul of the back office system. We will also follow up with an ambitious plan of enhancements on various legacy applications.

To better support our franchisees and strengthen our ties, we have even adopted a new organizational model. We created the new “Management of Franchising Model and Services” departement to lead to a continuous improvement of our relationship with franchisees with the aim of becoming the best franchisor.

Our franchisees have great stories to tell, come discover them at!

Check our other articles on digital transformation: here!

About the Author

Head of IT B2C and Innovation - Carrefour Italy Senior manager and engineer, with a consolidated experience in IT consulting with focus on digital, innovation and B2C platforms. She is a woman of action, who never says no to a challenge, making her best for a fruitful digital transformation in Italy. Passionate about innovation and travel, Alessandra is a mother of 2 children 👧🏼👦🏻 who loves skiing 🎿 and laying on the beach 🏖 to count all the beautiful things.  

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