Daniel Michaud, Industry / Retail Development Consultant and Anne-Marie Bolduc, Industry / Electronic Commerce and Franchising Development Consultant at the Quebec Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovation
What are the main trends and innovations in the Québec retail sector?
What are the main innovations and solutions developed by Québec digital companies?
The innovation ecosystem in the Québec retail sector has certain undeniable market advantages in terms of digital and experiential technology. Our ecosystem is built on the key pillars of our retail sector, both as it stands now today and going forward, so it gives Québec retailers a highly diversified range of tech solutions to help them make their mark internationally. It draws on 105 research centers, chairs, groups, and institutes (McGill University, Université du Québec à Montréal, HEC-Montréal, the Institute for Data Valorization, etc.). The greater Montréal and Québec City areas are hotbeds of applied research where world authorities in their fields are making innovation a powerful driver of economic growth across the province. In addition, a specialized retail management school will soon be opening thanks to a $25 million investment by Aldo Bensadoun, founder of the Aldo brand. This institute of learning will focus on various aspects of retail, including the experiential and behavioral components of technology.
Québec is well positioned to spur development of retail solutions both locally and internationally with “disruptive” technologies such as the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, and digital traceability. Moreover, Québec is a leader in various realms of tech, including mega data, online marketing, retailtainment, anthropometry, smartshopping, and online loyalty.
Québec is also home to major retail chains, including world leaders in their fields:
- Alimentation Couche-Tard: The world’s leading convenience store and service station brand, outstripping even Japanese giant 7 Eleven. It posts sales of about $50 billion and has acquired a number of other companies in the past 12 months, including CST Brands in the United States. The company has 14,000 locations in Canada, the United States, Scandinavia, the Baltics, Ireland and Asia, most under the Circle K banner.
- Aldo Group: A leader in the design, marketing, and sale of shoes, ALDO creates and sells its own shoe and fashion accessory brands. With over 3,000 points of sale in over 100 countries, the organization operates two signature brands—Aldo and Boutique Spring—and a multibrand concept named Globo. Aldo Group is also a well-known industry wholesaler and supplier of shoes, handbags, and accessories. The group is headquartered in Montréal and has two international offices, in Europe and Asia.
Québec is a leader in the following state-of-the-art digital fields:
- Element AI has received $137 million from a number of top Series A investors.
- MILA (Montréal Institute for Learning Algorithms): Directed by renowned researcher Yoshua Bengio, the institute specializes in the research and development of artificial intelligence.
- Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO): The institute specializes in the development of mega data solutions. In 2017, SNCF, a world leader in passenger mobility and freight logistics, became a founding member of the IVADO, which brings together industry professionals and university researchers to develop advanced expertise in the area of data science.
Payment and contactless payment solutions:
- Connect&Go: Connect&Go, a Montréal company specializing in connected objects and contactless payment solutions, provided the smart bracelet technology used to create a three-day connected experience at Superbowl 50 in San Francisco in February 2016.
- Mobeewave: Company specialized in smartphone-based contactless payment solutions.
- Moment Factory: Multimedia entertainment studio specialized in the design and production of immersive environments. Moment Factor blends video, lighting, architecture, sound, and special effects to create unforgettable experiences. The studio is headquartered in Montréal and has offices in Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Tokyo. Moment Factory has created over 400 shows and destinations all around the world for clients such as Disney, Sagrada Familia, and Los Angeles International Airport. It has also done projects for the NFL and a retail project for Oakley.
- Float4: Float4 is an award-winning studio with a passion for creating unforgettable digital experiences that amplify the atmosphere of physical spaces. The company has done projects in over 50 cities around the world. It has two studios, one in Montréal (its head office) and another in New York. It does projects for such top-tier clients as the NBA and Cirque du Soleil.
- Lightspeed POS: Lightspeed provides retailers and restaurant operators the world over with a comprehensive solution for launching, managing, and developing their business while offering a better customer experience. More than 38,000 retailers use Lightspeed’s point-of-sale (POS) system and its new e-commerce platform to manage their inventories, customer requests, sales, and data. These powerful tools give them a holistic view of their business. Founded in 2005, Lightspeed has offices in Canada, the United States, and Europe. The company is backed by major partners, including Accel Partners, iNovia Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), and Investissement Québec (IQ).
What represents the Paris Retail Week event for your business?
For Québec, Paris Retail Week is an opportunity to show the European market our retail know-how in areas such as information and communication technology, mega data, artificial intelligence, immersive and experiential technologies, and connected objects. Québec is a leader in many of these fields. The event will also be an opportunity for Québec and France to discuss our shared experiences with digital projects as part of a panel to be held during Paris Retail Week. The main goal of the panel will be to highlight the similarities and differences of our respective markets. Birks, a Canadian institution in the retail jewelry market, will talk more about its experience in Québec. The opportunity to engage in business networking to forge ties between decision makers is another big reason why we will be at Paris Retail Week. Plus, it will be a great chance to do some benchmarking on the latest trends and technology in retail.
Meet Québec / Export Québec on the stand K 091 at Paris Retail Week from 19 to 21 September!