French Retailer Launches Crowdsourced App

Leclerc, a French hypermarket banner, has long been known as the cheapest non-discount hypermarket in France. Their website allows shoppers to compare the prices of nearly every product sold in their stores with the prices of the same product at their competitors. The data for the website is provided by Leclerc’s employees who regularly visit hypermarkets of every banner throughout France.

Michel Edouard Leclerc, the popular and talkative CEO of Leclerc, had the idea to crowdsource the data for the website thanks to smartphone technology. He launched an iphone app that allows shoppers to scan products while they are shopping at competitors stores. It allows them to know the price of the same product at the nearest Leclerc hypermarket. Then shoppers are invited to tell the app if the it is cheaper or more expensive than at the store they are actually purchasing the product.

There are two really good ideas here:

1) The shopper can acknowledge, everytime he/she scans a product, that Leclerc is really, as it claims to be, the cheapest retailer. It is strong proof of a widely advertised promise.

2) This system allows Leclerc to bypass the very restrictive law on price-comparison in the media in France. Leclerc can therefore fight against its competitors on their own terms.

Of course, all of this is nothing if Leclerc is not actually the cheapest. And, according to some comments on the itunes store page for the app, it seems that the app does not work if the product is cheaper at a competitor’s store. Moreover, it does not take private label products into account, a field in which its competitor Intermarché is much stronger.

All in all, this new app is another way for the n°1 hypermarket banner in France to show how deeply they are involved in the country’s fight for the improvement of purchasing power, a political theme that Leclerc and former outsider, now strong Intermarché, made their own since the early 2000s, leaving their main competitors Carrefour and Auchan in a complex situation.

Here’s a glimpse at how the app works:


Step 1: the shopper scans a product while shopping at a competitor’s store (here: Franprix)

Mobile 2 Mobile 3

Step 2: the app gives the price of the same product at the closest Leclerc store. The shopper is then invited to tell the app at which retailer the product is the cheapest (here Leclerc or Franprix) or if the prices are the same.

– Contributed byEric Coulon, Integer Paris