Facing the giants of the net, resistance is organizing. In Alès, in the Gard, the town’s shops are now grouped together on the Alesofcourses.fr website. A “100% local and responsible purchasing platform” powered by the city. 136 stores, out of the 200 in the commune, have been listed there since the launch of the platform on April 27. “We have been working on this project for several months to revitalize the city center, says Christophe Rivenq, first deputy mayor. But the Covid-19 crisis, which has further developed online sales, has accelerated things! “
Set up in a few days by the local start-up Agarta, the site is designed on the same model as Amazon, but with only local brands. Customers can thus opt for different options: home delivery, recovery in store, acquisition of solidarity vouchers… “The stores use the site as they want,” continues Christophe Rivenq. They can either sell directly online or refer to their own site or promote promotions… ”. Fully funded by the town hall, to the tune of 120,000 euros annually, the Alesian marketplace quickly won the support of the city center.
Ready-to-wear, services… and other fresh products
“It’s a great initiative,” agrees Serena Aoudia, of the Kaci clothing store. “Several customers, old and new, have already placed orders on the site.” This is the case of Sandrine, 52, who offered a voucher of 100 euros to her niece for her birthday “and to also help the business of Alès”. Or Marie-Julie, 27, used to online shopping: “it is well done because it is easy to use and it allows you to see all the shops in the area”, appreciates the young woman.
From ready-to-wear to services, including fresh products, there is something for everyone. “I use the platform to present my cheeses, a bit like a shop window,” explains Patrick Zabala. It also allows me to be in direct contact with customers, who sometimes ask me for information via the site. ” A way of attracting and retaining buyers, like occupying the land. Because “to be visible today, you have to be on the Internet! says the owner of the drugstore Fuster, one of the oldest stores in Alès. A lot of people passed by on my page, it’s a big plus to be gathered between small businesses. It allows better referencing to better fight against the big guys. ”
If the craze for the site is present, its results on sales are still pending for some. “The idea is good, but it hasn’t started yet,” says Laurent Jacques, manager of five clothing stores. “Above all, people have to realize for themselves that if they abandon the city center to buy elsewhere, small businesses will disappear.” To illustrate his words, he recently filmed the deserted shopping streets of Alès. Before sharing the video… on the Internet.