× This Challenge was posted 5 years ago

Challenge Project

Le Petit Frigo

An autonomous self-service store that offers its customers fresh seasonal products for direct sale

"Le Petit Frigo" is an autonomous self-service store that offers its customers fresh seasonal products for direct sale (fruit, vegetables without chemicals, dairy products, bread, eggs from about ten local producers or processors). It represents an alternative to online sales by creating more proximity between the consumer, the products and their producers. However, the operation and management of the store remains difficult and technological solutions to improve the operational part would be of great help to ensure better operation, freeing up time for market gardening production while maintaining its profitability and a low wage bill. More details in the full challenge

Proposed solution

For “Le Petit Frigo” we would like to :

  • Improve the offer and drive consumer appeal and loyalty while integrating sustainable development values.
  • Evolve this concept towards even more autonomous management and improve its management.

A group spent some time to analyse the competitive landscape and to define consumer segmentation. 3 key categories were identified with the senior generation being quite significant even though the Y and Millenial generation present some interest to this type of concept. Proposals such as sharing recipes, announcement of new crops were suggested to rise interest and drive loyalty of our clients. This group made also a SWOT analysis and a Business Model Canva of “le Petit Frigo”, wich are in the point 7. Economical Documentation.

Some IT solutions to facilitate buying experience and mitigate the clients errors were developed by the group :

  • A database of the existing products with their prices has been set up.
  • An interface to record the purchase by category has been developed and will be made available on a tablet.
  • A shopping list is generated and the clients are able to pay either by cash or using Twint system.
  • An extension of this function will be to link this to a digital scale. This will avoid to put all the products in plastic bags and save significant time.

Another idea was to try to optimize stock management:

  • An extension on the existing program was made to allow a management of the stock and send notification when stock is close to zero.
  • Another system was also developed to manage subscription and investigate application to manage volunteering and give responsibility for certain tasks to volunteers in return for compensation.



Martine and Luc Gonvers, fruit and vegetable producers, have developed a concept based on the self-service sale of unlabelled organic products grown on site and sold by them. The concept of the Petit Frigo therefore allows customers to come into the sales area, use the goods they need and pay the amount due directly to the cash register without going through sales staff. Two concepts are at the heart of their project, namely local agriculture and direct self-service sales. The Petit Frigo activity is part of a niche market with good annual growth; the organic Swiss market with a combined turnover of CHF 2.7 billion in 2017. (BioSuisse, 2017) Direct sales, which is defined as an almost total reduction of intermediaries to the benefit of producers, is experiencing significant growth in Switzerland with a 60% increase in farms between 2010 and 2016 reporting direct sales. (USP, 19 January 2018). In this favourable context of a renewal of agriculture towards greater sustainability and proximity, it is a question of how the concept of the Petit Frigo can be optimized, perpetuated and multiplied.


Currently, prices are dictated by distributors (Coop, Migros, Manor, etc.). These intermediaries must realize their margins on the resale of fresh produce purchased from farmers, so distributors exert significant pressure on the purchase prices of agricultural products. The more intermediaries there are, the less margin there is for each of them. Based on this observation, the company "Le Petit Frigo" aims to make its distribution chain as direct as possible by removing as many steps as possible (vertical integration). Thus, a self-service area has been set up; the products are portioned in plastic bags then customers serve themselves on the shelves, make their accounts and pay in cash or by the application twint the amount of their shopping. There is therefore no salesman on site, but the owners can be reached in a certain time slot.

Despite the fact that this system has a number of advantages such as the reduction of intermediaries or the absence of sellers, it has disadvantages such as: - The risk of theft, which represents 10% of turnover. - Without customer-facing sales staff, owners have very little knowledge about their customers. Indeed, they do not know who comes to buy from them, for what amount, how often, for what reasons, etc. - Finally, one of the challenges is to ensure with a very limited staff (2 people) all the logistics, namely production, shelving, sales and warehouse management.


The current concept remains fragile (in terms of operations, customer loyalty and seasonality of the offer). The "Little Fridge" would like to: - Evolve this concept towards even more autonomous management and improve its management. - Improve the offer to better meet customer demand while integrating sustainable development values.

A market study currently being conducted by HES de Sierre since March will make it possible to answer a number of questions, particularly with regard to the external commercial environment, customer segmentation and expectations, and thus propose ways to optimise the concept.

In parallel, the objective of the challenge would be to reflect on technological / digital solutions to be implemented to optimize the autonomous management of the store.


  • Sales tracking: tools to easily record what each customer buys. o Barcode / scan o Touch tablet to record your purchases.

  • Solutions to facilitate shelving and limit the time Luc and Martine spend putting products in their pockets. o Bulk? an alternative? o Platform to manage volunteering and give responsibility for certain tasks to volunteers in return for compensation.

  • Solutions to limit plastic bags usage

Challenge proposed by: Aurélie Besson

Contributed 5 years ago by MatthieuDelaloye for Agricathon 2019


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