Since 2020, the Innovation Department has been identifying trends of relevance for the food sector and taking a closer look at them. The aim is to provide the decision-makers at METRO with industry information and business data, contacts with start-ups, research organisations and players in other sectors, and plenty of food for thought. This is done first of all in the form of the Revue d’ Innovation, a homemade newsletter that is sent to all METRO France executives every month. Nicolas Hanquez, who heads the Innovation Department, explains: ‘Our innovation process is structured and practical. Identification, selection, and then experimentation so we can ultimately harness the trends like reusable containers for restaurant Customers instead of single use that will create added value for METRO, our teams and our customers.’
A database full of innovations
Another tool that the Innovation Department offers METRO managers is the L’ Observatoire database, created in April 2022, which the Innovation Department spent a year working on in partnership with Questel. L’ Observatoire enables all the data on innovation topics collected by METRO France to be accessed centrally. This includes data on collaboration between METRO and innovators from the start-up world and research as potential contacts for new projects.
All the decision makers can as well identify and create new start-up datasheet, and if so, share all their interactions with them in order to ensure that all business units are aligned and updated on the collaboration status. All the revue or any innovation content are stored in a digital library. Thanks to an automated synchronization with the most relevant databases (eg: crunchbase) or newsletters (eg: The Spoon), L’Observatoire enables to capture the hottest information and data on all our start-ups portfolio; which includes all ongoing experimentations projects thanks to Eva Poteau, Innovation Project Management Officer.
Experts at work
Behind the Innovation Department is a strong team, which takes care of the exchange with partners and constantly develops the tools. Laura Amsellem, a pioneer member of METRO France ChatBot, who was recruited by Nicolas for the team, says: ‘Maintaining relationships with our partners should not be underestimated when it comes to developing solutions.’ This is how the department works with a selection of partners, among them Digital Food Lab, Hub Institute or Food Service Vision that regularly share their insights with the team. ‘We are also able to trigger with them reports, studies, benchmark on dedicated topic if needed, but there is no permanent or recurring dashboard on innovation topics strictly speaking’, explains Laura.
Leading the way instead of running to catch up
For METRO customers, this means that the shelves will always contain the products their customers are asking for. Now and in the future. ‘We use the facts and figures we gather to make sure that our decision makers can always find what they need and be inspired by what else might be possible,’ says Nicolas. ‘By continuously aligning with all the stakeholders from METRO France on the priority innovation areas, we contribute to improve both customers and team’s experience. This gives us more flexibility to experiment and thus help achieve our strategic goals.’