E-commerce as a development vector

In 2018, when deciding on promising sectors for the future of its territory, the Central District SDC did not hesitate for a second to bet on technology. A matter of affinity, attribute and opportunity. Four years later, of all the business segments encompassed by the technology hub, e-commerce is among the most promising.

“Due to its industrial past, Distrito Central offers a quality built environment characterized by large spaces, high ceilings and easy access to the loading docks. Three elements much sought after by e-commerce companies”, explains the general manager of the SDC District Central, Hélène Veilleux.

The affordable level of rents and the fact that an ecosystem of owner-occupiers has its headquarters in the Central District, which allows them to establish privileged relationships with their tenants, also weigh in the balance. “They are true partners, capable of supporting companies in their development. Especially since the volume of available rental space offers great elasticity and can accommodate significant growth phases”, summarizes the general manager. Another significant attribute, according to her: the proximity to the highways and the ease of transport that this provides.

From their point of view, however, it is the territory’s social and economic environment that proves to be the most profitable. Due to the many advantages that the district offers, several companies specializing in this area have made the Central District their home for several years. Not to mention the territory’s urban manufacturers and retailers, whose activities are also based on the operation of transactional websites. The experience gained and the idea of ​​living with these precursors are attractive.

Over the past few years, invited to reflect on the future alongside various socio-economic representatives and residents, entrepreneurs from the Central District have not only developed a common vision, but also strengthened ties. Consequently, says Hélène Veilleux, “entrepreneurs have access to a real community by choosing the Central District”.

attract and support

It was from this same community that the idea was born to develop a space dedicated to e-commerce companies and to launch a contest to attract future leaders in this sector of activity to the area. Two projects already completed.

In the fall of 2021, a shared space, dedicated to e-commerce companies, was indeed opened in the Central District. In addition to the space itself, which in particular provides work stations, private meeting rooms and a multimedia studio, ClickSpace also offers logistical solutions for the processing and management of à la carte orders.

In the same year, PME MTL Centro-Ouest and SDC also launched the District e-commerce contest. Combined with over $100,000 in prizes, including generous incentives to establish themselves in the territory, the initiative proved to be a real success in terms of participation and made it possible to award three companies. More importantly, the showcase offered by the competition allowed the installation of four new e-commerce companies in the District, namely MTL B-Board, ECOCAT, Murri and Plogit, including two in the ClickSpace facilities.

In view of the success achieved, PME MTL Centro-Oeste and SDC Distrital Central recently confirmed the holding of a second edition of the contest. As with last year, the scholarships and associated awards will total $100,000, split between three winning companies. The target audience is also the same: young e-commerces from the Central District and those who want to settle there.

act as a catalyst

New element however, both participants and winners will be invited to participate in training and networking activities. A way, according to Hélène Veilleux, to humanize the process. “Representatives of the companies that signed up will be able to participate in a day of discussions where they will be able to talk with competition partners and local entrepreneurs about the challenges of e-commerce. At the end of the process, the 10 finalists will also be invited to a networking activity in the 5 to 7 formula. The winning entrepreneurs will also take a tour of local partners during which products manufactured or sold in the Central District will be offered. Another way, specifies the general manager, is to ensure that they feel welcome and that they develop bonds with their corporate neighbors. »

For Alexandre Skerlj, Director of Strategic Initiatives at PME MTL Centre-Ouest, there is no doubt that the competition – especially in its current format – has the potential to act as a catalyst for the development of entrepreneurship in e-commerce. “Thanks to the quality of the partners involved, the first edition attracted 40 entries, which is already a lot. What we want now is to allow even more entrepreneurs to register and, above all, to ensure that they learn along the way. Selling online is today the first instinct of new entrepreneurs. The role of the MTL SME is to support them. Competition is a way to achieve that.”

One thing is certain, for the founding president of the MTL B-Board, the advantages of winning the contest were great. “The fact that companies and organizations like Canada Post, Shopify, Cascades, Desjardins, PME MTL, ClickSpace and SDC District Central are giving me this award has given me confidence. Above all, he says, the awards I’ve won, whether it’s the scholarship or the mentoring sessions, have allowed me to progress more quickly in terms of development. »

The application period for the second edition of the competition is underway. Interested companies have until May 31 to submit their application.

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Guylaine Boucher

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