On the eve of the birth of his first transaction siteable to compare itself to Amazon, the Blue Basket has become a private company.
• Also read: Fitzgibbon open to QST discount on Quebec products
Created two years ago at the height of the pandemic, the government initiative’s name and location were bought by Agora Platform, a new private company formed with the backing of Investissement Québec (IQ).
The government finance arm is investing $12 million in the adventure, which is currently $22 million. That $12 million includes “the conversion of an advance into stock in the form of a $3 million loan approved in 2021,” an IQ spokesperson specified.
The state as a minority shareholder
The three other shareholders are Fonds de solidarité FTQ, which contributed $5 million to the company’s share capital, the Desjardins Group ($4 million) and Montreal-based Lightspeed ($1 million).
Despite the importance of their investment, the Quebec government controls “less than 30%” of the new company’s shares, stressed Economy and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon.
All (the shareholders), he added, would have a minority stake, which would ensure his independence. Management will continue to be led by Alain Dumas, overseen by a Board of Directors chaired by Sylvain Prud’homme, former President of Lowe’s Canada.
- Listen to Yasmine Abdefadel’s interview with Alain Dumas, General Manager of Le Panier Bleu on QUB radio:
A transaction page
The government used this announcement to invite traders to quickly register for their new platform. The latter should be ready in time for Christmas, the most important of the year, Mr Dumas said.
As well as adding a transactional aspect to the site, management is working to provide a transportation, delivery and marketing system to help merchants thrive in this highly competitive e-commerce market.
“We will never make refrigerators or televisions in Quebec,” concluded Minister Fitzgibbon. But I prefer consumers to buy them from a Blue Basket convenience store than Amazon.
Chosen with great care
One of the unique features of the upcoming platform is that it will be designed to favor retailers that are close to where consumers live.
Don’t post anyone who wants to on this page. Only Quebec retailers can sell their products there. In order to benefit, a trader must demonstrate that they have a place of business in Quebec, that their inventory is located there and that they have information in French.
In addition, companies headquartered in Québec must demonstrate that at least 51% of their ownership is Québec. If the head office is not in Quebec, at least 75% of the branches operating in the province must be owned by Quebecers (franchise, affiliated, etc.).
How will work the new blue basket?
Choice of dealers
Only Quebec retailers can sell their products in the Blue Basket. To exercise this right, a retailer must demonstrate that it has an office in Quebec, that its inventory is located there, and that it has information about its products in French. Criteria relating to the participation of the company complete the whole thing.
Quebec Product Certification
Once included in the Blue Basket, retailers can sell any items they want regardless of their origin. However, products from here may be marked as such. To do this, they must comply with the rules of origin established by Aliments du Québec and Produits du Québec.
A local purchase
Purchasing is done in the same way (by keywords) as on competing transaction platforms. However, what sets the Blue Basket algorithm apart is its ability to prioritize directing the consumer to the stores in their neighborhood.
Delivery, pick up
Blue Basket’s products are sold directly to consumers without the need for a retailer to have their own website. Delivery is within 3-5 days. Retailers can also offer consumers to pick up their order in store.
Blue Basket Shareholders
- Investment Quebec 12 million dollars
- Solidarity Fund QFL $5 million
- Desjardins group $4M
- Speed of Light 1 million dollars
- Total Participation $22M