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Colruyt France

The efficiency of a Belgian retail system in the French retail world

  • Service Design
  • Retail & Food

Implement signature checkout process to French legislation

At Colruyt in Belgium, the cashier takes your shopping items directly from your shopping cart, scans them, and loads them into another cart. This saves time and space within the Colruyt system and results in better customer intimacy. Even though the process is very much appreciated by Colruyt’s Belgian customers, this checkout method didn't fully comply with French norms and laws. Rather than just acquiring standard checkout counters and effectively copying the checkout system of other retail chains, Colruyt decided to develop a new checkout counter system that better suited their unique personality.
Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt does everything in its own way. Even the checkout process is unique.

A brand new workflow for clients and cashier

The challenge was to combine Colruyt's cart-to-cart system with a more traditional conveyor belt system. This hybrid checkout had to ensure that the employee would never have to lift heavy items (which is a legal requirement in France). Unlike most checkout counters in Europe, this system has the cashier standing up and make sure they are at the same level as the customer, therefore seeming more approachable and friendly. This also ensures that they are highly mobile allowing for quick personnel handovers. This method leads to enhanced work efficiency.

Verification of concepts in real life

Evidently, ensuring ergonomic comfort for the cashier personnel was absolutely crucial in this project. The best way to create and verify different concepts was using true-size prototypes. Very basic models made of simple materials (wood, cardboard, etc) were used for role playing games, to optimise the workflow. They provided immediate feedback to the design team, on different configurations or variations of the concept.
Process efficiency

Efficiency as a design driver

Process efficiency is the number one KPI at Colruyt. Naturally, this is also reflected in the construction of the checkout counters. A smart breakup into individual modules allows for fast assembly and repairs. The split-up also allowed Colruyt to use many parts left and right reducing the overall part count, cutting down on inventory and transport through nesting parts together.
The result
The result is a unique, friendly, and highly efficient checkout system, which has effectively become a differentiating attribute for Colruyt in France versus its peers. The fact that both cashier and customer are standing next to each other cuts the natural distance between the two and creates more customer intimacy.