Connected, autonomous and open 24 hours a day, Api is revolutionizing the village grocery store

The increase in fuel prices, the increase in teleworking, the democratization of the digital… The director general Marie-Laure Basset recognizes it: there was an “alignment of the planets” when she launched Api, a new concept of autonomous and connected convenience store in rural areas ., whose idea is imported from Sweden.

Imagined by Julien Nau, Alex Grammatico and Jean Luc Treillou, Api opened its first store in Claix (Charente) a few days ago. The ambition is to reinvent the convenience store. “We can keep dreaming about it, but the traditional village grocery model no longer works, analyzes Marie-Laure Basset, so we have to find another solution to revitalize the rural sector. And this idea is a 40m2 mobile home that offers 700 product references, accessible 24/7 thanks to a QR code that allows you to open the doors, paying by credit card.

Affordable prices

An agricultural engineer, Marie-Laure Basset has spent twenty-five years in the food industry, an environment she knows intimately, through her experiences at Marie (cooked meals) and Room Saveurs (tray delivery for companies). She quickly concluded that Api’s idea could only work by relying on heavyweights and achieving economies of scale.

“We are in partnership with one of the leaders in the production of mobile homes, and with Carrefour for the products, because it immediately became clear to us that to supply these stores we needed a large retailer capable of managing the supply and logistics for each point sale. We also need affordable prices, because this is one of the failure factors of village grocery stores, which are often forced to charge higher prices than supermarkets. »

The municipalities concerned must have at least 750 inhabitants

After the opening of the first store, “we want to set up the stores in clusters of five, which is more interesting from a logistical point of view. This will allow us to maintain an economically viable convenience store model. “Api is betting first on Charente and Charente-Maritime,” and our goal is to install forty in New Aquitaine by the end of 2023 and 600 in France within five years. »

The municipalities concerned must have at least 750 inhabitants, not already have a mini-market, and be located at least half an hour round trip from a supermarket. “Obviously we won’t replace the supermarket, but in this period of high inflation, especially of fuel, our idea is to participate in the defense of purchasing power. “A building permit must be presented for the installation of the mobile home”, and we ask the municipality to provide us with land, but we only need an electricity connection, not even a water point. »

“The offer may vary depending on the points of sale”

They will be independent shops, «in the sense that we want to make people independent: they can come on Saturday evenings at 10pm without anyone’s help. “But a human presence will still be ensured, with the hiring of a manager for five points of sale. “It will be present in every convenience store at set times, and it will have in its missions to exchange with customers, and to accompany them, in particular in the creation of the account that generates the QR code, because even if this has spread thanks to the Covid crisis- 19, remains a theme of digital divide in the rural world”, admits Marie-Laure Basset.

In terms of products, each store will cover all departments. “We offer a wide range of fresh, frozen, fruit and vegetables, non-alcoholic beverages, hygiene products, products for animals… The offer can change according to the points of sale: if we are close to very busy roads, maybe we will have a very strong snack offer, which will have no interest elsewhere. And we will also integrate our products with local producers. »

Eventually, the chain hopes to be able to offer other services, “such as a parcel delivery corner or partnerships with the medical sector, with the idea of ​​recreating a village square. “Api aims for a turnover of 200,000 euros per shop and per year, profitability to be achieved “from one hundred shops”.

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