PARIS — Carrefour and Google are joining forces to tackle the French grocery market with an agreement to develop new distribution models together, marking a key development in the retail industry’s conversion to online commerce.
The partnership also raises the stakes in a battle set off last year by Amazon, with its purchase of Whole Foods.
In a joint statement Monday, the pair said they expect to offer grocery shopping through Google Assistant, connected speakers like Google Home and a Google shopping web site in France as early as next year.
Under the leadership of chief executive officer Alexandre Bompard, who took the helm of Carrefour last year, the sprawling retailer has forged a series of partnerships and acquisitions as part of broad turnaround efforts.
This summer, Carrefour engineers will start work with Google Cloud artificial intelligence experts to develop new shopping methods at an innovation lab in Paris.
“This alliance makes Carrefour the first partner of Google on grocery e-commerce in Europe, creating a strong bond between the two companies,” Bompard said.
“Customers want assistive, simple and personalized experiences that help them make decisions on what to buy, assist with easily building baskets across surfaces and provide a seamless checkout,” said Sébastien Missoffe, managing director of Google’s French operations.
The agreement also includes training for more than 1,000 Carrefour workers in the use of Google Cloud Platform infrastructure.
Carrefour, the world’s second largest retailer after Walmart Inc., has in recent years struggled under the weight of sluggish consumption in its domestic market. To revive its business, the inventor of big-box hypermarkets is betting on the leadership of Bompard, an executive credited with adapting book and electronics retailer FNAC to increasing online consumption by merging it with a home appliances dealer Darty.