Sherpa, a digital in-store office in your pocket
July 7, 2022

In a retail industry more digital than ever and with the ever growing customer expectations, Carrefour has to reinvent itself and its processes to become a DigitalRetail company. To manage this transformation, collaborators need the best tools to become the very best. Which is why Carrefour Spain came up with the Sherpa project to revolutionize its digital in-store back office.

In a store, when a customer has a question, there is often a round trip between the sales area and the store’s office, where the computer containing the information is located. The same goes for printing new labels, ordering products and so on. At the end of the day, that’s several kilometers traveled and so much less time spent with our customers.

At Carrefour, we want to put an end to this. To do so, we decided in all our countries to switch to, a mobile app designed for 100% of our store managers and associates. will empower them to provide a service better than ever to our customers. will also be a smart app powered with artificial intelligence, facilitating our in-store processes, like anticipating breakages before they happen.

Last but not least, will integrate our internal social network, Workplace by Meta, to allow our associates to communicate with their teams in an easier way.

What about now? Well, some countries, such as Spain and France, are already well advanced in this approach. Let’s focus on what Carrefour Spain managed to achieve with the Sherpa project.

Carrefour Spain: think big… start modernizing the invisible

Nowadays, companies always start their digital transformations through the direct sales channels which the customers see, such as e-commerce, mobile apps or checkout lines. But in order to support these channels it is necessary to transform the back office processes first.

In retail, the back office is everything we know as the management of articles and suppliers, sales prices, promotions, orders management, inventories, label management, accounting… In short, all of the essential processes that allow Carrefour to continue to provide its customers with the best offers.

And so, according to this desire of transforming our back office, Sherpa was born! With the aim of simplifying processes and systems, and to help us support the new sales channels that have been developed and will be developed in the coming years.

Sherpa, an ambitious project with a perfect name

The name Sherpa was not randomly chosen. In the light of its ambitions, to revolutionize the store’s back office and make it accessible from the sales floor, what better name than the world’s best mountain guide: “Sherpa”, which refers to an ethnic group from Tibet, renowned for their ability to climb the highest peaks.

Sherpa is also kind of a ciphertext. To solve it, it must first be understood that the project gathers 3 solutions: one using SAP Hana to manage pricing, promo and assortment; one using the ERP Symphony GOLD for order management; and one using Carrefour Spain’s big data platform to provide real time information and useful KPIs. So now that you know this, here’s the secret origins of the name: Sap Hana ERP DatA 😉

Sherpa, a roll-out as fast as lightning

Sherpa isn’t only about technology, it’s a project aiming at improving the life of our collaborators and it requires a vast transformation program to onboard and accompany everyone.

Thus, we came up with an ambitious transformation plan with a dedicated website, videos and special training for people in the store, ensuring Sherpa a warm and efficient welcome. 

The first pilots started in November 2019 for Carrefour Market and June 2020 for hypermarkets. Then, we managed to keep a very fast pace of extension to all formats, on a basis of 30 to 40 stores migrated per month.

As of today there are already 350 stores operating with Sherpa, 107 hypermarkets out of 203 and 243 supermarkets out of 297. By the end of the year, all of our hypermarkets in Spain will have migrated to Sherpa. 

Sherpa, all in mobility 

The main goal of Sherpa is to obtain the mobility of employees in the stores, thus allowing them to manage their time better and be closer to our customers. 

Nowadays in our stores our teams dispose of way too many apps and tech and they can’t manage everything well. Sherpa answers this problem by simplifying processes as much as ever, by reuniting every tool into one: u-care.

100% of store operations are made in mobility: item management (price, stocks…), labels printing, order management, live KPIs, communication tools (ie: Gmail)… and more than 100 functionalities.

Some of Sherpa’s features

Sherpa, the simpler the better

Sherpa has also managed to simplify our day-to-day tasks, making them more logical and therefore more efficient. We have improved store processes through mobile devices, for example: being able to know the stock in real time and its location on the shelf, automatically printing the right amount of new labels when a price changes, etc. 

We introduced product mapping with Sherpa, allowing our teams to associate items to specific locations in the store. When a price changes, employees get an update and new labels are generated automatically with the location code of the product. With this feature, productivity has increased a lot and price errors have dropped fairly.

Sherpa has also simplified pricing processes, going from several applications to just one. We can now get better and quicker pricing simulations and omnichannel pricing in an instant, which brings more reactivity and adaptability to price management. Combined with the automatic printing of labels, this feature turns into a real productivity booster.

[Youtube vidéo]

Each product is identified by a location code: L23M10-1 (almond milk), L23M10-2 (rice drink) and L23M10-3 (chocolate soya drink)

Sherpa, powered by a new data centric approach

Previously, Carrefour Spain’s computer systems in the back office had an infinite number of applications, each of which generated and stored data. This meant that each department or area had its own data, calculations and processes, making it difficult to have an overall view.

With time and new developments, our systems have moved from classic and autonomous apps to a “data centric” model, powered by a new tech stack such as the Google Cloud Platform and Big Data technologies. Each piece of data is unique and is managed by an application that shares it with the others. In this way we can access not only internal data but also external data that allow us to adapt to changes more efficiently.

The Sherpa project is currently replacing more than 70 software applications to include new data-centric ones. We can now process much larger volumes of data, have a longer history and have almost real-time reporting by using big data technologies. We also use data science to develop advanced functionalities, which allow us to optimize the key processes of our organization, such as price management or orders management. 

Thanks to the combined use of SAP Hana and these advanced functionalities, we can now provide an increasingly optimal shopping experience for our customers. This is a game changer for teams in store!

Sherpa was made possible thanks to Carrefour Spain new data centric architecture

Sherpa’s next step: heading for the franchisees

Sherpa’s roll-out continues as a fundamental pillar for Carrefour operations in Spain.

We are already working on a new scenario for logistic operations, as well as the migration to Sherpa for all of our franchised stores.

What brings Sherpa is not only a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have”. The u-care mobile app reinvents the way of working in stores. Carrefour Spain is an example to follow. Our ambition is for this wind of innovation to reach all our countries by deploying u-care in the whole group. 

Stay in touch!

About the Author

IT Director, Architecture, Data & Innovation Javier’s mission at Carrefour is to apply new use cases to the company with the most advanced technologies. Sherpa is a once-in-a-lifetime project on which he has worked since the beginning with all the teams involved. Javier loves spending time with his family and friends, his hobby is learning new things, about history, tech or pretty much anything.   IT Manager, Sherpa Cross Coordination Salvador is in charge of the coordination between the IT and business areas to successfully implement and roll-out Sherpa in Spain. He loves scuba-diving and riding his motorcycle.

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