One after the other, major retailers are opening spaces in some of their hypermarkets allowing customers to customise various objects: mugs, t-shirts, telephone cases, stationery, cushions, jewellery, etc.

There are multiple goals. First, to provide an additional service to customers and add value to an offer that has been totally standardised until now. But also reappropriate two segments that have been absorbed by e-commerce: photo printing and home decor. Carrefour was the first to launch the trend by creating MyDesign, a joint-venture with the print-on-demand company of Christophe Charle, co-founder of Cdiscount. The chain has opened around twenty more corners since the first MyDesign corner opened in early 2015. Other retailers are allowing their hypermarkets to take these initiatives locally. This is the case of Hyper U and E. Leclerc, which nonetheless ensures that its Styl’ corners all follow the same charter. The latest food retailer to jump on the wagon is Auchan. Its central office has grabbed hold of the concept set up in several stores and in May they launched an official pilot, l’Atelier. The results are positive for all. And there is still considerable potential for these corners. The retail outlets want to be able to customise all the products on their shelves, or imagine an after-sales service that is capable of printing spare parts. Also within reach is the long train of books, CDs and DVDs that could be printed on demand in less time than it takes to go and weigh your tomatoes.

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Flore Fauconnier is a journalist. She covers e-commerce, retail and travel for Journal du Net (groupe Le Figaro), the first economics news site in France with 3.5 million unique visitors per month. She previously covered economics and politics for L'Express, Le Figaro Entreprises, France Soir and British publication The Heren Report. She started her career as an account manager in consultancy Wavestone (then Solucom). She holds an MSc in Engineering from Telecom Bretagne and a specialised master's degree in Media from ESCP-EAP.