More automated checkouts at Couche-Tard

New habits at Alimentation Couche-Tard. Projects that Laval will undertake over the next few years include implementing automated checkouts at 7,000 establishments so rushed customers can avoid queues at the counter and implementing a loyalty program aimed at knowing consumer habits.

Posted at 6:45am

Nathaelle Morissette

Nathaelle Morissette
The press

Autonomous tills

So that customers in a hurry can pay for chips, chocolate bars, coffee or other delicacies quickly, Alimentation Couche-Tard wants to install a type of automatic pay station in the next 7,000 branches of the “Autonomous Points of Sale” network in the next 2 years. As a result, customers in Quebec could soon see them in their nearby Couche-Tard supermarket.

“It allows people to skip the line, put their products on the counter and make a quick transaction,” said Claude Tessier, chief financial officer, in an interview with The press after the annual general meeting held on Wednesday.

The technology, currently deployed at 540 points of sale, including the company’s lab store on the McGill University campus in Montreal, gives consumers the ability to easily check in their items without having to scan them. The cash register can recognize the items and immediately show the invoice amount, explains Mr. Tessier. “We’re very happy with the results,” he added, noting that occupancy has fluctuated between 35% and 40%.

With e-commerce, people are becoming more and more independent about how they pay.

Claude Tessier, Chief Financial Officer at Couche-Tard

Regarding contactless stores, which allow customers to enter the store, select items and leave without going to the checkout, thanks to an application downloaded from a smartphone, the convenience store giant wants to continue its analysis , before establishing it in his network.

The technology is currently available at McGill’s campus supermarket and select locations in Arizona.

loyalty program

Like many retailers trying to understand their customers’ behavior, Alimentation Couche-Tard is in the process of setting up a loyalty program. “We are currently being tested in South Carolina and also in Denmark,” explains the CFO. It allows to know the consumption habits and the frequency. It also allows for custom actions. We might have a petrol quote to match knowing you’re a regular customer. »

The place of French

Also, during the annual general meeting, the question of the official status of the French came up again. Among the four proposals formulated by the Movement for the Education and Defense of Shareholders (MEDAC), one called for “French to be the language of the company, particularly the working language in Quebec, including the language used at annual meetings. “The official status of the French language must be formally stated in writing in the company’s letters. »

The proposal was rejected as recommended by management. “We have always had great respect for the French language,” affirms Claude Tessier. But we are an international company. It is difficult for us to have French as our main language. [Dans nos discussions] with our Danish and Norwegian friends, even in Lithuania, [la langue avec laquelle] We can understand each other, it’s English. Of course, when you work in Quebec, you work in French. »

Results

The convenience store giant reported net income of $872.4 million in the first quarter of 2023, up $108 million from the same period last year. In its results released Tuesday, the company reported total revenue of $18.7 billion for the first quarter, up 37.4% from $13.6 billion a year earlier. Unusually high gasoline prices helped boost the company’s profits.


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