Carrefour offers brands new, safe ways of accessing its customer data

Gary Flood Profile picture for user gflood November 29, 2021 Audio mode
Live in nine countries and covering 50 million customers, french retail giant Carrefour’s new system aims to benefit both the supply chain and its CPG partners


Paris-headquartered retailer Carrefour says it has found a way to offer partner companies access to its commercially valuable customer data in a way that makes their marketing campaigns up to 15% more efficient.

Key to the new process is an application built by data connectivity specialist LiveRamp, called Safe Haven. The tool aims to offer a solution to a problem in modern e-commerce, where brands want to collaborate, but no-one wants to open their precious customer data files to third parties. A safe joint space where a company can get a view of the data they are most interested in,in a way that maintains customer privacy and Carrefour's ownership, is highly attractive. Evene. E more so if the commercial user of the safe space also gets reports on if people are responding to its new promotion.

Monetizing Europe's biggest customer data lake

Driving the change is a new Carrefour business unit, Carrefour Links. Announced in June as at the heart of a new data and retail media strategy for the €80 billion giant, this is a platform that uses tech from a few partners, including Google and LiveRamp. 

Carrefour Links is part of a complete overhaul of the Group's previous e-commerce strategy, and is a big part of the company's ambitious digital transformation, the ‘Carrefour Digital 2022 Plan' which diginomica highlighted earlier this month. The idea is to centralize customer data into a Carrefour cloud - creating what is being cited as the largest data lake in Europe. 

This is being accompanied by the rollout of new data analysis and safety tools. Fruit of that work is this new service, based on a database of the 80 million households worldwide, who buy from it every year, and 50 million loyalty card accounts. Because of this investment and rationalization, Carrefour Links says it can now offer a set of services to CPG (consumer packaged goods) firms, who both sell through its stores, but who also want to get useful demographics information for promotions and online marketing. 

Now, its Managing Director Alexis Marcombe said, the company has the ability to offer the right prospective customers for a brand, make the experience more "fluid" to improve the chance of conversion throughout the customer journey online and in-store, and better track and measure campaigns from ad through to the in-store transaction. 

He said: 

Carrefour Media was the first retail sales house in Europe, but it wasn't omnichannel and it was mainly offline, so we initiated a pilot to change that. But one of the big challenges we had is that to be truly omnichannel, you must make your data be able to be addressed, activated and measured. We needed to work with specialist partners to do that, as we have lots and lots of data with really incredible granularity down to deep SKU levels and in many cases 24 months of associated historical data there too.

Giving CPG the full power of the platform

With customer data being moved around, customer consent and transparency on how that data is used is paramount. Along with close adherence to data protection regulations, such as GDPR, though, safe data collaboration between the retailer and brands happens through the processes and tech in the Safe Haven. Marcombe pointed out that it is not strictly correct to call such a solution a ‘walled garden,' as neither party is able to retrieve data from CPG customers. In any case, everything is operated either by Carrefour on behalf of the CPG with Carrefour tools, though increasingly self-service functionality is being introduced.

The vendor's technology is all about allowing businesses and publishers to share customer data in a private, safe place without third party cookies. Put together like this and with these protections means Carrefour, as primary owner of the data, gets deeper insights and analytics into campaign performance, category management, and shopper analytics, and as a resource for its data science teams to build useful machine learning models for internal use.

But there is value for advertisers, too, as they can now use protected Carrefour data across both social and open web platforms and Carrefour owned-and-operated assets, as well as get detailed information on the ground-level impact of their marketing initiatives using real-world retail data. For example, Carrefour can now advise a client prior to delivery of a product to the market if there is an opportunity, based on in-store data. They will also be able to identify the difference between an imagined marketing target and the media target, he said, which can often be very different from the people who might buy the product. Finally, advertisers will also be able to perform in-flight optimization during a campaign as they will get daily updates on its performance.

Marcombe said: 

When the CPG sells more product in Carrefour, they earn money, but Carrefour earns money too. So, this is definitely something in which all parties benefit, including of course the consumer.

‘Transforming the way we do business'

Live for three months, Carrefour Links processes the data and carries out the segmentation for the CPG. As a result, a Carrefour Links service user can access information on the categories they are distributed in, their specific product SKU in detail, so they can do the segmentation they need, but they can then directly activate a tool to buy media advertising. The company is starting to let CPG to do it by themselves with their own team, or with a partner and agency partner if needed, with the idea of giving them the full power of the platform.

And as all this new data is by design omni-channel, advertisers can measure both online and offline purchases, a huge advantage in retail and food in particular, as 85% of Carrefour sale are still made in store, he added ("it is key for us to be able to link offline and online for the CPGs").

Granted it is early days, but is there any indication so far on benefits? Marcombe stated that a 15% better use of media buying budgets is being reported by 20 early CPG user brands, and between 1.5 and 8% for TV advertising-led campaigns.

He concluded:

This is a significant way for Carrefour to completely transform the way we do business with our brand partners.

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