French Retailer E.LECLERC Selects IBM's Self Checkout

New Systems in Cannet and Montbéliard Improve In-Store Traffic Flows and Increase Customer Loyalty

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PARIS - 31 Jan 2006: French retail group E.LECLERC has successfully implemented IBM Self-Checkout solutions in its big-box stores in Cannet and Montbéliard to improve in-store traffic flows, speed checkout and increase customer service and loyalty, IBM announced today.

E.LECLERC installed the IBM systems last year and now is seeing 12 percent of customers in Cannet and 18 percent in Montbéliard going through the new self-checkout lanes. Checkout personnel are on hand to answer any questions, and the systems are designed to speed checkout whether a cart is full or not.

The E.LECLERC Cannet store is the group's 3rd biggest in the PACA region in the south of France, with sales of almost $100 million. Customer numbers in this downtown neighborhood store are very high, with some shoppers even coming twice a day. As a result, 10 years after opening, the 25 checkouts were struggling to cope with the ever-increasing numbers of consumers.

"It was absolutely essential to make customer traffic smoother within the store by cutting down checkout waiting times and bottlenecks," explained Bruno Lopez, Manager of the E.LECLERC Cannet-Melhodi store. "The results are amazing. There are hardly any queues on Friday and Saturday despite increases in customer numbers and sales."

The E.LECLERC Montbéliard store, located near the Peugeot plants, has just expanded and now has a surface area of more than 70,000 square feet. It is the second biggest E.LECLERC store in Alsace and also has to handle very strong peak-time traffic.

To optimize checkout flows and adapt to fluctuating customer numbers, the store decided to install six IBM Self Checkout systems, including two of the larger systems with a longer belt, among the 34 existing checkout lanes.

"After extending the store, we hired 40 new staff, including 10 automatic checkout assistants," explained David Genebrier, Manager of the E.LECLERC Montbéliard store. "We appreciated the design and technology proposed by IBM. In addition, we were reassured by the way the IBM teams monitored the project from the drawing-board stage through the installation scheduling and up to the final delivery."

With its open-ended Self Checkout solution, IBM has developed a technological configuration that accepts all baskets and carts, no matter how big. This allows all size retailers to leverage the benefits of self checkout systems.

IBM Self Checkout offers a flexible and complete line of self checkout products designed to work well in virtually any store format. Intuitive and easy-to-use, these systems incorporate a full-color touch-screen, multi-media instruction, and online lookup screens to make it customer friendly and easy to use, along with a broad range of integrated security features to reduce potential theft. Versatile design options are available including both conveyor-belt and scan-and-bag units that are suitable for any store format, daily volume and order size. These secure, reliable self checkout systems can help improve customer satisfaction, build loyalty, and meet the growing demand for fast self service.

In both French stores, the store sales associates freed by the new self-checkout lanes were able to assume higher value customer service roles.

In Cannet, two staff members are present at all times to facilitate traffic movement through the checkouts, as well as advise customers. "We are seeing that checkout staff are moving to more responsible tasks through a higher-value relationship with customers. This project could not have worked without having the staff on board, without them taking it on and becoming its best ambassadors to our customers," said Cannet's store manager, Mr. Lopez.

The Montbéliard store is seeing over 1,100 Self Checkout movements per day, accounting for 8 percent of sales after just 8 months in operation. "This is of real benefit to our customers; for them, it's a whole new shopping experience. It's a big change for our staff too. The role of checkers has been completely transformed, and they have now become customer-contact assistants," said Mr. Genebrier.

"With IBM's Self Checkout solutions, retailers have an alternative to traditional checkouts that give them the flexibility to configure their checkout to better suit consumers' needs. This enhances customer choice, convenience and service," said Philippe de Mazières, Director of IBM Retail Store Solutions.