Offering a custom nutritional score on e-commerce
November 19, 2020

As a customer, have you ever wondered if a product was really healthy for you? What if I told you that we can know if a product matches your metabolism, your dietary habits or a personal objective that you set for yourself? Would you be interested to know more about it? Well, on Carrefour.fr, we can provide you with this information thanks to a custom nutritional score! 

And it starts at the purchasing stage. The personalized nutritional score, named the Innit score, is displayed on Carrefour.fr for all ranges of food products from the Carrefour private label to national brand products (Nestlé, Danone…). Displaying the Innit score on Carrefour.fr was an unexpected journey for the whole team involved: from the choice of Innit as a partner thus working with a startup based in the US, to the final UX/UI adjustments. We had the great opportunity to build the project from start to finish, collaborating internally and externally with different teams and departments. 

First, I would like to share with you why having a nutritional score is necessary and how the personalization works. Then, I will tell you how we worked with Innit and how we managed to deliver the project.

A new initiative for Food Transition

Why was a nutritional score necessary? 

We observed the increasing use of nutritional apps, especially Yuka in France. Customers were a step ahead retailers and brands as they were making their purchasing choices after checking a product’s score on an app. It became a new grocery shopping ritual and we wanted to be part of it!

To get involved in this new trend, Carrefour, and other retailers, started to adopt the Nutri-score: a five-color Nutrition label recommended by the European Health Agency. 

It was an important first effort. However, the Nutri-score does not cover food additives, even if they are considered as dangerous for our health. 

The second step was Carrefour’s Act For Food Program which completed our involvement with complementary initiatives such as our Sustainable Fishing Policy. Since 2019, 100% of the fish departments in our Carrefour and Carrefour Market stores have been certified sustainable by the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) and ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council), independent certification systems: this is a first for a retailer!

But as a Food Transition leader, it was important to go further. That is why we implemented a score that takes into account each person’s needs, aims and beliefs. Thus, we shifted from a “Food Transition for all” , to a “Food Transition for me”

How does the personalization of a nutritional score work? 

As a basis, a standard score is displayed on the food products’ pages. This score is an Innit algorithm composed of three evaluation criteria: 

  • nutrient composition (60%), 
  • additives evaluation (30%),
  • organic cultivation (10%). 

To activate the personalized score, users need to give their consent and fill in a personalization questionnaire. The consent form and the questionnaire are both available in their own private space on the Carrefour.fr website. 

This grants them access to customized information about products on Carrefour.fr, based on the information they provided about their gender, age, food habits (e.g: whether they are vegan, vegetarian, whether they adhere to a Mediterranean diet, etc.) and nutritional goals. 

Users will also get details of products that they should aim for (because they are organic, high in protein or fibre, etc.) or avoid (such as gluten, shellfish, milk, sugar, etc.). 

The user’s personalized Innit score is displayed on the product page as a summary. It is either rated out of 100 or has the mention “to be avoided”. That way, users can assess a product’s overall nutritional quality at a glance in relation to their own characteristics and requirements.

A highly collaborative project, improving internal and external partnerships 

An exclusive partnership with the startup Innit

One of the big challenges we faced was aligning our process with Innit. On top of being a startup that works in a totally different way than Carrefour’s, Innit is also based in the U.S. and is just settling in France. 

It was especially challenging to build a coreteam and agree on the project’s ambition and our nutrition vision. We took time to meet each other, understand our collaboration strengths and weaknesses and decided to build an agile framework subdivided per topic: IT & Data, Nutrition Science, Legal, Marketing & Communication and UX/UI Design. 

Innit was already deeply specialized in nutrition science but needed to adapt to the European regulations which are much more restrictive regarding nutritional or health claims for instance. It took Innit almost a year to fix these adaptations from the U.S. to the French market. 

In parallel, Innit formed a Scientific Advisory Committee with three renowned French experts: Pr David Khayat, Pr Christophe Dupont and Dr Patrick Serog. We greatly benefited from their feedback and earned their trust in our project. 

The partnership with Innit was key to launch the project. Innit is our trusted third party, ensuring  our customers and manufacturers that Carrefour remains unbiased while scoring all food products ranges on Carrefour.fr. This means that both Carrefour’s own private label and national brand products (such as Danone, Nestlé etc.) will have the score displayed on their products’ pages.

This new score is built thanks to Innit’s system, Innit’s scientific knowledge and its data operations. Thus, the data and the scores are operated by Innit even though both sides are responsible for its continual improvement.

To go further, we all agreed that Innit personalized nutritional score should not remain exclusive to Carrefour, it should be a new nutrition standard shared by retailers and manufacturers. For instance, Intermarché is already adopting the score! This non-exclusive collaboration was new for us, especially on such a strategic project linked to e-commerce. 

We genuinely wanted to prove that Food Transition is far more efficient together than apart, won’t you agree? 

For Carrefour and other retailers, this project will also open new opportunities, especially on food products’ data accuracy. This is key to the success of projects linked to food transparency projects in e-commerce and the lack of standardization. 

Building an internal team, agile and highly collaborative 

At the Innovation department we are used to working cross-functionally. Our ways of working actually helped a lot for the Innit project since it involved almost all of our departments at Carrefour whether it was: Legal, Quality Nutrition Science, Marketing & Communication, UX&UI design or Technical integration.

To empower this ecosystem we created a core team to co-drive the project: 

  • The Innovation department was leading the project overall,
  • The E-commerce department was leading the technical integration and the UX/UI design.

This dual lead encountered its own challenges. In my team for instance, we needed to learn how to use new tools, a new technical vocabulary and new processes for e-commerce integration. 

To sum up the process, the project was broken down into sprints (short, repeatable phases). Needs and features were rapidly changing as the project started from scratch. We were constantly fine-tuning screens, features, UX/UI … even though related sprints were over. Thanks to this experience, the whole Innovation team developed negotiation skills to reopen sprint tickets! 

I discovered internal departments and teams that I never met before after more than 5 years in the company, whether it was people based in France but also in other countries involved in the Act For Food program. 

It was strongly motivating to see the enthusiasm around the project. This energy made us overcome many challenges and especially the Covid-19 lockdown back in March 2020. 

During this time, the team remained highly collaborative and agile enough to adapt to the situation and ensure the first release of the score in July (for the generic score without any personalization). Then, we released the final release in October with the personalized version of the score. Both releases were successes thanks to this dream team! 

It was definitely an uncommon project for us and a bold undertaking. We are very proud of being the first retailer displaying scores on its e-commerce food products. Only a few weeks after the launch, we are collecting users’ feedback and it is truly inspiring. 

The Innit project is an adventure to be continued… We are already working on new features to be released in France but also potentially in other Carrefour countries. 

Click here to watch a film presenting the service. 

Check our other articles related to sales and marketing here!

About the Author

Food engineer at Carrefour Group Nadia is specialized in nutrition. She has been leading Food Transition projects at the Innovation department. Younger, she used to spend all her time in her dad’s grocery store!

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