The Three Musketeers of Innovation at Cdiscount

by Nicolas Bry

Jerôme Fauquembergue, Damien Tourrette, and Bastien Giner are the 3 musketeers I talked with, to understand the blossoming innovation of Cdiscount, the French leader for e-commerce, and subsidiary of Casino retail group.

They’ve shared some fruitful insights on how innovation unfolds at Cdiscount over intrapreneurship, and cooperation with startups.

Innovation scope at CDiscount

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Innovation at Cdiscount covers from pain killing, to game changing and disrupting with corresponding timelines.

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Innovation Acculturation

Cdiscount has become a tech company in the sense that it employs 700 engineers (vs 50 engineers 5 years before), with agile software-like organization (Ux included in development team, DevOps, feature teams or thematic squads like in Spotify, etc…). 50 data scientists have joined the marketing & sales teams.

20 to 30% of the employees should be trained to design thinking with a view to empower people, in a company that feels 100% digital.

Intrapreneurship Device

Cdiscount Academy collects internal ideas.

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Among 100 ideas, 30 are pre-selected based on their number of Likes. 5 are selected, and encouraged to staff a team around their idea in one week. The next week, they get out of the builiding, and are trained with Startup Palace. They enrich their project, and prepare a pitch session (MVP), in front of the Executive Committe. 2 members of the jury come from outside of Cdiscount.

1,500 people attended the pitch session for the 20 anniversary of Cdiscount. 4 out of 5 projects got 1 to 3 months to prove the potential of their idea. One winner was linked to new delivery means, involving transparency and accessibility, based on a design thinking approach. Another example is the payment in 4 times that comes from an internal team.

Startups Cooperation Devices

The cooperation with startups was built on an Incubators & Accelerators Tour of France to detect most appropriate startups.

Then 3 targeted devices were set-up: The POC Factory, The Warehouse, and The Lab. The Warehouse and The Lab actually came from business teams – Supply and Marketing- meaning innovation is spreading within the company!

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The POC Factory aims at simplifying POcs (Proof Of Concept) with ecommerce/web startups, based on the removal of various hurdles. Budget, Letter of Intent, straightforward methodology, IT resources, 1 slide pitch for Executive Committee decision, all these items have been re-designed to streamline POCs.

Business Units managers are closely associated. They even pitch in front of startups their most urgent needs. Cdiscount General Manager meets with the team involved in a POC with a startup.

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The results are impressive: 2,000 startups were sourced over 2 years, 100 POCs were completed, 65% industrialized.

A well managed POC paves the road for a fluid industrialization, as they say at Cdiscount!

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CDiscount has also initiated 2 other devices: The Warehouse is an incubator/accelerator to co-create logistics innovations, and The Lab, a recently created program for marketing and data’s startups, aiming at creating the next disruptive feature. The challenge here is to move from product data to customer data, and build predictive models.

The Three Musketeers of Innovation at Cdiscount

The Warehouse is a 300 square meters space (in addition to 200 m2 co-working space) to experiment new type of logistics, and give Cdiscount 2 to 3 years ahead of competition.

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An example of co-innovation is Exotec Solutions, a French startup expert in IA and robtics, which has rolled-out 3D robots (Skypod solution) that catch products in racks located up to 10 meters high, and fetch them to warehousemen.

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Best practices, and Impacts

CDiscount offers open API to connect startups to its marketplace at lightning speed on marketing and data topics.

KPIs are set for POCS, trust with the startups is paramount, and business units are committed upstream.

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Beyond performance, open innovation challenges Cdiscount teams, and contributes to transformation. Open innovation future is bright at Cdiscount!

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Nicolas BryNicolas Bry is Orange Startups Studio COO. He entices Orange employees into becoming intrapreneurs, bringing their idea to life within Orange business. International executive, he sets-up innovation devices for new business. International speaker, writer with RapidInnovation.fr, guest lecturer at the Google Academy mini-MBA, visiting innovation professor at Telecom ParisTech, MediaSchool & EM Lyon, freelance consultant for the EC. Follow him at @nicobry.

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