Quebec uses an online business directory to encourage consumers to buy local

Many stores in the Canadian province of Quebec, like others around the world, have tried to support themselves with online sales and pickup during the pandemic.

To help, the Quebec government announced this spring an initiative called Le Panier Bleu. The aim is to steer people away from online retail giants like Amazon towards local products.

It is an online directory which, according to Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation, told a press briefing that it is intended to help local stores compete with the giants of online sales.

“When people go to Amazon, they often go there to see what products exist. So, we want to reproduce the same thing, and we want Le Panier Bleu to be essentially a repository of all Quebec products that are offered by companies. Quebecers,” said Fitzgibbon.

Nearly 20,000 businesses had registered to be listed on the site by June. The initiative also includes a marketing campaign.

A survey conducted by a public opinion firm for Le Panier Bleu revealed that 60% of Quebecers had heard of it and, of these, half said they had increased their local purchases.

The site comes at a key time, according to Francine Rodier, professor of marketing at the University of Quebec in Montreal. She said a shock like the pandemic can produce rapid changes in shopping habits. And customers who make a habit of shopping on Amazon may be hard to win back for local stores, even as they begin to reopen.

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