After announcing its digital transformation support program Offensive de transformation numérique last week, the Quebec government reiterated its interest in technology. This time, provincial and federal governments will be called upon to help facilitate a full-speed digital transformation. Together, they’ll be providing more than $18 million to the Association québécoise des technologies (AQT) and its partner, the École des entrepreneurs du Québec (EEQ). Both levels of government have been tasked with supporting digital transformation in retail businesses, for a total cost of over $22 million. This initiative is aimed at a total of no fewer than 5,000 companies. They all have fewer than 100 employees (SMEs) and operate in the retail sector. The AQT and EEQ will provide tailored support to help these companies seize all the opportunities related to e-commerce. The non-repayable financial assistance of $9,007,929 being granted by the Quebec government originates from the Offensive de transformation numérique. The Canadian government is offering the same amount through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program. “As part of the Offensive de transformation numérique program, this assistance will accelerate the transition of local retailers to the digital economy, allowing them to compete with large retail chains online. The ATQ will be supporting the digital transformation of retailers as one of the initiatives that will accelerate the transition of Quebec’s retail sector to the new economy,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation.
Our point of view
The current pandemic context has highlighted the urgency of making a digital shift, especially for the retail sector. The lockdown hasn’t been easy for retailers who were categorized as non-essential and who can’t have customers in-store at the moment. This investment will be provided as new money, not via a tax credit, which is very advantageous. The initiative is encouraging the economic recovery and is a real catalyst for digital projects. It’ll be a big challenge for the École des entrepreneurs du Québec, but we’re confident that the organization will be able to deliver. This important resource will definitely be changing the digital landscape in the province. Its expertise in the field will be paired with that of the Association québécoise des technologies, ensuring that the project will be carried out effectively. Companies can reap several benefits from undergoing a digital transformation, including becoming resilient to other potential crises, and local SMEs will be better able to weather the storm once they’re on the technology wagon. In addition, it’s important to always stay in tune with your market, as consumer habits are changing. There has been a dramatic shift as consumers turn to ecommerce and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.