Promote start-ups in Quebec, facilitate early sales, and gather consumer feedbacks: such is the concept behind Neoshop. Founded 3 years ago by the Laval Mayenne Technopole association, this brand landed in Montreal in December 2016 thanks to the Quartier de l'innovation.
The challenges of start-ups: test and sell their creations
Cricket flour protein bars, self-drying hockey bag, urban electric bike, intelligent bicycle navigation system, etc. Twenty products are presented in the Neoshop shop. This unique mobile store is as much a place to sell as a place to discover and conduct tests.
« The Quartier de l’innovation (IQ) was determined to carry out a concrete project," explains Hugo Paquin, Neoshop’s Montreal Manager. It was eager to bring the innovations out of the laboratories and incubators to let the citizens try them out - allowing them to really "experiment" innovation, see it, touch it, try it and buy it. Hence the idea of creating a shop that is both an address for local innovations but also a test bench for start-ups whose products are in the early stages of commercialization. "
Here, comments and suggestions from customers/visitors are forwarded to entrepreneurs. Indeed by doing so, they can test and validate some of their assumptions such as what is the best packaging or the best selling price? "We have a social mission, says M. Paquin. Yes, we sell products, but customers' comments are very important, as they can contribute to the local development of companies."
On top of being a physical outlet for the city's start-ups, Neoshop boasts a dedicated sales team that helps them accelerate their market launch.
A concept born in France
Created in 2013 in Laval, located in the French department of Mayenne, the first Neoshop was opened by the Laval Mayenne Technopole (LMT) association. A concept that has worked very well since its creation - it has already been exported to the rest of France and Europe. The Quartier de l’innovation benefits from this rich partnership. This cooperation allows for a great exchange of products. Indeed, some products from the Neoshop Montreal store come from France while some Montreal products of interest are sent overseas. "This is a great opportunity for our local start-ups to validate their export potential" adds M. Paquin.
All products available at Neoshop are subject to a selection that meets five criteria. These are products:
• Physical and tangible - you won’t find mobile applications or services here;
• Innovative in their use, design or concept;
• Accessible to the mass consumer market - they must fit on a shelf;
• Final - no prototype is sold;
• Possessing, as M. Paquin calls it, a "WOW" factor - ie both original and new.
First Findings and Initial Adjustments
After a few months of activities, Neoshop Montréal has a positive first report. "Right from the beginning, people loved the concept, because there is no equivalence! " explains M. Paquin. At the time of the launch, the pop-up shop was located in a shopping center in the heart of Griffintown. It stayed there for three months. M. Paquin and his team then made their first observations:
• The more the shop travels, the more it reaches customers. Their solution: from now on, Neoshop will settle for a maximum of 1 month and a half.
• The more the selection of products offered changes, the more the customer's interest is preserved. Their solution: ensure a greater rotation of products and find products with a seasonality quality.
Where to see Neoshop in 2017?
Neoshop will be traveling in Montreal, but also in the regions this summer. Since May 1st, you can find Neoshop in Complexe Les Ailes. It will also be present at the Startup Fest or at Concordia University in partnership with District 3.
The idea of having a mobile store is not new, but it offers another way to shop. "Pop-up shops are becoming increasingly popular due to the flexibility and deployment they offer - you can adjust to the seasons and events. It is also possible to carry out research upstream to find out where to settle in terms of the interests of the customers, "explains M. Paquin.
Today Montreal, and tomorrow Quebec?
"Neoshop's goal is to open a permanent store, as well as other kiosks, to double or even triple our presence in different locations, and to be present on-line. We want to create a holistic all-encompassing customer experience " concludes M. Paquin.