eCommerce: Carrefour tries out autonomous shuttle delivery near Paris

Faced with Amazon’s voracious appetite, which is constantly accelerating in terms of robotic innovation, the historical players in the retail sector are multiplying initiatives to accelerate their digital transformation. In this context, Carrefour had launched the Carrefour 2022 plan in 2018, with an envelope of 2.8 billion euros over five years, before announcing at the end of 2021 a new digital investment plan of 3 billion euros. for the period 2022-2026. By then, the volume of its online sales should have tripled to reach 10 billion euros per year. Also in 2026, e-commerce should generate 200 million euros in operating profit more than in 2021.

To move up a gear in digital, Carrefour has forged partnerships with American giants like Google and Meta, but also with start-ups. The heavyweight of French distribution has in particular allied itself with the young Franco-Spanish shoot Goggo Network, which operates fleets of autonomous vehicles. The latter raised 44 million euros from SoftBank and Axel Springer Digital Ventures in December 2019.

Goggo Network is thus at work to ensure the management of the autonomous shuttle delivery service tested by Carrefour between Massy and the Saclay plateau, on the border between Essonne and Yvelines. As part of this experiment, the French designer Milla Group provides the electric vehicle that carries the orders. This is connected to the Carrefour delivery system using the 5G connection provided by Bouygues Telecom.

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A 15 km experience

Concretely, once the customer places his order on the Carrefour site or application and chooses his delivery window, it is prepared within the automated warehouse in Plessis-Pâté (Essonne), before being dispatched. to the Carrefour Massy drive to be loaded into the autonomous shuttle. The latter, capable of traveling up to 70 km/h, is configured to perform a 15 km rotation between Massy and the Polytechnic Institute of Paris on the Saclay plateau, a booming center of scientific and university excellence which will be served by the future line 18 of the Grand Paris Express metro in 2026.

Once the vehicle has arrived at its destination, customers can unlock their locker using a code received by SMS to collect their shopping. As soon as the shuttle is emptied of all controls, it returns to its starting point in Massy, ​​awaiting its next round. If the shuttle is autonomous, it still has a driver to take control of the vehicle if necessary.

“This innovation makes it possible to offer a drive-thru service in areas far from shops. This experiment will thus make it possible to extend the current delivery rounds by going even further afield for the last remaining kilometers, while ensuring an optimization of the time and costs of the transport rounds”, believes Carrefour. Élodie Perthuisot, who oversees the digital transformation of the French group, hopes that this type of initiative will help make the distributor a “Digital Retail Company” to counter the progress of Amazon.

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