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carrefour flash

Carrefour Flash autonomous store opens in Paris

The French Amazon Go. In this French-style “Amazon Go”, there is no need for a mobile application, it is the store that is connected. Numerous cameras fixed to the ceiling and connected scales hidden in the shelves are enough for the system to track customers in real time and determine their shopping cart.

Carrefour is opening an autonomous store in Paris, equipped with technology. Carrefour inaugurated its first autonomous store in the 11th arrondissement of Paris on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Carrefour Flash is designed for everyone and to speed up everyday shopping. There is no need to download an application or identify yourself, anyone can enter this store to do their shopping because it is the store itself that is connected

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Connected cameras and scales

In this 55 square meter space, 60 cameras have been installed on the ceiling. As for the shelves, they are composed of 250 shelves equipped with eight weight sensors each (2000 sensors in all). These can support up to 30 kg and are accurate to within 10g.

Once the customer enters the store, he is converted into an anonymous avatar and represented by a color. Carrefour’s teams insist on anonymity: the aim is not to concretely identify a person, but to follow each customer independently to determine the purchases made by each.

All this data from the cameras and connected shelves is merged to determine the customer’s basket in real time. Carrefour boasts a 96% basket reliability rate. All data is processed directly in the Carrefour store, the information is not transmitted to a cloud platform. The store, and its technologies, can track up to twenty shoppers. But Carrefour hopes to improve the technology so that this number can increase.

A contact-less payment system

The third innovation, after the sensors and the algorithm, is the payment system. Carrefour has left a traditional checkout on which items must be scanned by the customer. This checkout should be used for cash payments and can also be used for customers who prefer to go through this step. Alternatively, two other checkouts have been implemented that allow the autonomous store experience to be completed.

These are two tablets containing the payment solution developed with Market Pay, Carrefour’s fintech. When the customer approaches, his or her shopping cart is displayed on the tablet. It is then possible to use a contact-less payment solution. If this is not possible, or if the basket exceeds the maximum 50 euros set for this payment method, the user must enter his or her card code on the tablet after simply “scanning” the chip as in a contact-less payment. The receipt is not produced in paper format, but can be retrieved at the end of the payment via a QR Code.

Software trained to follow complex cases

Nearly three years of R&D were necessary to develop this technology. The development of the algorithm was one of the most complicated steps. The software was trained to follow several complex cases: when two customers’ arms cross to grab products; when a product is picked up and then handed over by a customer. However, only one person is required to fill a basket. The software is not trained to track the fact that two separate people fill a single basket.

Usually, retailers use an app. The customer must then download this application before entering the store and start shopping. A friction point that hinders more than one consumer. With its Carrefour Flash, the French retailer hopes to seduce a large number of customers.

Carrefour has given itself one year to test the technology. The employees of the Carrefour can guide customers, validate the sale of alcohol which is forbidden to minors, solve possible problems with the basket, fill the shelves and reposition products that have been wrongly handed over by customers. They receive alerts on an application since the software is able to detect this.