Success Stories

Gourmet retailers combine tradition with technology

2 min read

Superior products, stand-out customer service and a readiness to embrace new digital channels are the weapons that the gourmet retail sector must use to win over the mass-market competition.

Gourmet food is becoming more mainstream due to a greater willingness to try unfamiliar tastes and higher disposable incomes, which put premium-priced products that once had a limited market within reach of wider part of the population.

Specialty retailers of gourmet food that want to benefit from these trends know that they need to offer a great shopping experience and one that is markedly different from visiting the delicatessen section of the local superstore.

That means offering locally sourced and specialty products, providing superior service, or emphasizing their traditions and their roots in the local economy. Gourmet food retailers that cannot differentiate sufficiently from the mass distribution channels face an uncertain future.

Distinctive stores

This was the challenge facing Conserverie la belle-iloise, which started life as a cannery in 1932 and is today known throughout France for its gourmet canned fish products and its chain of distinctive blue-painted stores.

Selection of la belle-iloise products

As the first superstores opened in France, the founders of la belle-iloise decided to turn their back on mass distribution as that would involve compromising their traditional values and production techniques.

Instead they wanted to emphasize product quality and their historic roots, so they opened their first store in 1967 and began selling direct to local customers in their home town of Quiberon.

The food industry has changed enormously since then, of course, and become increasingly industrialized and homogenized, even in France, a country that prides itself on its gastronomic traditions. But La belle-iloise has stuck to its winning formula and grown to have more than 86 stores today.

Tradition with technology

Nevertheless, some things have changed at La belle-iloise as its retail operations today combine tradition with technology.

With competition often just a click away, customers today are less tolerant of inefficiencies and poor customer service, and they don’t like to have to wait too long in line. La belle-iloise stores can get busy at peak times during the summer, so to better serve the needs of its customers, the company has adopted the Openbravo store solution and equipped its store associates with mobile POS terminals so they can attend customers anywhere in the store.

As well helping improve the in-store  customer service, the Openbravo platform supports new omnichannel fulfilment options, such as the ability to arrange home deliveries for customers, with the fulfillment managed from the central warehouse.

👉🏼Read the press release to learn more about how Openbravo helped la belle-iloise improve customer service and offer new fulfillment options.