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Quebec’s online shopping platform, Le Panier Bleu, shutting down | CBC News

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After four years of encouraging consumers to buy local, Quebec’s online shopping platform, Le Panier Bleu, is shutting down.

All outstanding orders will be refunded, and support will be provided to merchants in the coming weeks, the company said in a news release Wednesday.

The site was launched early in the pandemic to help stimulate the economy by giving small businesses support as they competed against corporations. It served as a directory of Quebec-made products and promotions.

The Legault government invested $3.1 million in Le Panier Bleu in September 2020.

For the last two years, Le Panier Bleu has served as an online shopping platform with Quebec-certified products available from a wide range of companies. In the spring of 2023, it was revealed that a mere 600 out of 100,000 available products were actually from Quebec.

Last week, the Quebec government announced that Amazon will have a section dedicated to Quebec-made products in partnership with Les Produits du Québec — a non-profit organization that, funded by the provincial government, aims to promote local products by certifying those made in Quebec.

That announcement worried some merchants that Le Panier Bleu would soon close.

“We sell Quebec products, and it is important to sell them with a Quebec platform. It’s not in my values ​​to put myself on Amazon,” said Olivier Villeneuve-Sénéchal, owner of Tranche de bois, a company that makes wood products.

The income from Le Panier Bleu remained marginal, he told Radio-Canada, but he appreciated the visibility it generated.

Plateforme Agora Inc. operates Le Panier Bleu. In its news release, the company says revenues were not sufficient to ensure the sustainability of the platform.

“The challenging economic landscape faced by the entire retail sector has also contributed to this decision,” it says.

Since its inception, Le Panier Bleu has supported hundreds of Quebec merchants in their digital transformation, enabling them to adapt to the new reality of e-commerce, the release said. 

“We would have liked to continue our mission of promoting local and proximity shopping, but we are confident that local merchants are more equipped than ever to succeed in the digital environment,” said Sylvain Prud’homme, board chair, in the news release.

The company says there were more than 600 registered merchants from the province and more than 250,000 products listed for sale. Of those, 2,500 were certified as Quebec products, it says.

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