With the full report on the future of the retail from Le Panier Bleu now deposited, dozens of recommendations scattered across the 8 different sites will be on the list of things to do in the coming months. As CodeBoxx and its CEO led the work on the technological capabilities, we wanted to offer you a “zoom” on each issue that has been identified as well as the associated recommendations. Here is the first article of a series of 6.
Issue # 1: The monopoly of the big players
The big players in the e-commerce industry monopolize a lot of market share: alone, 55% of product searches start on Amazon and 28% on Google (Bloomreach, 2016). In addition, 60% of purchases are made from the top 10 e-commerce sites in the United States, of which 38.7% are on Amazon. This leaves only 40% of the market share for all other businesses. Once the brand and dominance of the big players is established, it is very difficult for emerging companies to grow. Indeed, as soon as they reach critical mass with their products, they are kicked out of the market by price or supply wars. The solution of survival for them then remains to integrate their offer into the ranks of these same giants and to let themselves be relegated to the rank of simple supplier partner. That said, it was still necessary to examine the elements that made the success of these platforms adopted by a critical mass of consumers, including Quebecers. In summary: a large-scale proprietary infrastructure developed over decades with billions of dollars invested and negative financial statements, combined with a perfect mastery of the said platform will have made it possible to optimize their performance throughout the entire value chain.
In light of this evidence, the famous question “Should we create a Quebec Amazon?” is answered: we cannot answer Amazon by opposing it to another platform. Rather, we must meet the needs of business owners and Quebec customers with a comprehensive business strategy. All players are concerned. If producers and marketers don’t market themselves through Google and Amazon, they don’t have access to a large part of the public right now, and that part of the public is the one with the highest propensity to buy. So how can we both use the monopoly of these big players while at the same time acting to help traders of all sizes?
Recommendation # 1: Create a catalog of Quebec products
The example to follow here is that of Google Shopping, which aggregates information and allows the search for products sold by several businesses. It is also important to have a large
volume of products listed across as many categories as possible so that each search returns a satisfactory answer and thus create a feeling of confidence and a ripple effect that will make this repository the official destination for products available in Quebec. In addition, this catalog must be continuously updated in order to ensure the accuracy and sustainability of the information over time (price, availability, attributes, etc.). Where it gets interesting is that once this catalog is created, it can become the reference for the big players (Google, Amazon, etc.), while incorporating the notion of origin of products. We can thus imagine that Google Shopping or even Amazon could one day come and index this catalog and display the Panier Bleu logo or even allow the results to be filtered to see only those which come from the Blue Basket. By optimizing the indexing of products and maximizing their visibility on the platforms that generate demand, Le Panier Bleu will be given the chance to become a “broker” of Quebec products. The more complete, accurate and detailed the product information, the easier it will be to propagate this information across a multitude of platforms. This recommendation was partially implemented on lepanierbleu.ca around mid-October 2020, before the filing of this report.
Recommendation # 2: Be visible and present among the great players
As we have seen, Amazon, Google, Walmart and other big players attract consumers’ searches and purchases. We must therefore ensure that Quebec businesses are present on these most well-known and popular platforms, marketplaces and solutions. As the expression says so well: “if you can’t beat them, join them”.
Examples of actions to be taken:
- Get properly indexed in the Google search engine (via SEO or SEM).
- List your business in the Google Business service, to appear in Google Maps when consumers are looking for a local store.
- Have your products listed in Google Shopping and in all the marketplaces you frequent by tracking the Quebec origin of the products in order to give these products greater visibility.
- Ensure a significant presence on major market places such as Amazon, Walmart or Wayfair, by opening a window there and offering its products.
- List your company and its products on the Blue Basket in order to be part of the centralized Quebec offering within a product repository. This solution applies to all businesses, but its approach will be adapted.
All in all, these steps may seem very simple, but they make all the difference. That said, some of these measures will only be applicable once the work of recommendation #1 has been completed at the SEO level.
Recommendation # 3: Encourage the creation of vertical “market places” and the pooling of technologies
Although Quebecers buy everything online, certain product categories represent greater potential for online commerce. The development of vertical marketplaces that bring together businesses and related products could create a significant force of attraction. For example, we can think of the following verticals: Products that meet the same needs, such as maple products, eco-responsible solutions, or wellness and wellness services. For example, the British Bookshop platform, which offers a marketplace for independent booksellers, or the Quebec platform Les libraires; Local shops, those on rue Masson or the City of Shawinigan for example. The objective is to focus on promising categories first in order to develop a global market place in an iterative manner. A vertical marketplace can quickly create a critical mass of products and businesses, and therefore quickly deliver value to consumers. The next step will be to understand the customer journey in this category before identifying the sites, businesses and existing producers and allowing both pooling and synergy at all stages of the business life cycle in terms of production, logistics, distribution, returns management, marketing, customer satisfaction, etc. For each successful vertical, it is then suggested to develop a marketplace by category, which will include companies with existing sites and allow those who do not have one to create a transactional catalog within the marketplace.
Ultimately, the idea is to empower traders, allowing them to register their business and their products in one place; To groups and organizations who benefit from quality technology quickly and inexpensively.