To add a little Christmas cheer this holiday season, I have been trying to launch a Secret Santa Monaco initiative that would both encourage people to support local businesses and add some festive community spirit in the year of ho-ho-hovid.
I was pointed in the direction of DouxVillage Monaco, a new Amazon-like online marketplace in Monaco offering same day delivery for only €5, cofounded by Monegasques Pierre Billon and Sébastien Lambla. The site is scheduled to go live December 8.
After high school, buddies Pierre and Sébastien went their separate professional ways for over 20 years. Sébastien is a senior software architect specialised in agile project management and software development, who lived in London for fifteen years working in Big Data (McKinsey, WhenFresh), banking (Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan) and delivery startups (Just-Eat).
Pierre, a corporate finance and business strategy expert, started his career at the dawn of 4G technologies with Clearwire/Sprint in Europe and was an independent consultant in Germany for some eight years, helping small and medium businesses adapt their corporate strategies to face new challenges. “From managing 8-figure budgets to meeting with customers, the open-mindedness I learned in business abroad is something I hope to bring back with me in Monaco.”
They two entrepreneurs, both impressively fluent in English and Anglophone culture, happened to move back to the Principality around the same time a few years ago. “It was during Covid lockdown in March when we realised that shops in Monaco needed our help,” relates Pierre, who was Customer Experience Director at Monaco Telecom until last year.
“In big European cites online shopping is available but here there is nothing, and local stores and companies need more than short-term relief through a boost in online sales during the Covid-19 crisis,” explains the 38-year-old .
Sébastien, 39, is ensuring that the IT and logistics behind DouxVillage Monaco create a homogenous vendor and customer experience. “We are creating an omnichannel to benefit smaller players who don’t have the tools, knowledge or time to get started online. For the end consumer, this is an online platform where they can order any products they want, from the participating Monaco stores, for quick and easy same-day delivery in or around Monaco or for in-store pickup.”
Pierre is quick to assure, “There is no monthly or entry fee for the shops, and customers get same day delivery in Monaco for €5, even if they buy from multiple shops on DouxVillage.”
When Pierre mentions the €5 delivery fee for Monaco, I fall silent. This is Monaco, no one offers this type of service for so little.
“DouxVillage Monaco is grounded on our years of professional experience and sound business models. However, this idea stems from our hearts and supporting the community where we born,” Pierre admits. “Monaco is unique and local businesses need help.”
Sébastien agrees. “Living in London is a life-changing experience for anyone, let alone when you have grown up on the Cote d’Azur. The mix of cultures, people and nationalities I encountered there have given me more sensitivity to what building an ethical business means – to be a good local player, to help the community and to be open-minded to others. The Brits are much more entrepreneurial, and creating a business is always seen positively, something that is not always the case down here.”
For the moment, DouxVillage Monaco has 15 commerce on board. “All except two came to us after our brief social media campaign,” says Sébastien. “As expected, our model of not charging anything for joining the platform is reassuring – they pay a small commission if they sell, nothing if not – and many of them also like that we focus on local delivery as they don’t want to compete in price with the French or international market.”
Pierre adds, “Interestingly, we have a split of about 50/50 in terms of shop profiles – half of them always wanted to go online but never did, so they like that we take care of everything, and the other half are experienced online sellers with an individual online store. For them, they like that through us they can add a new sales and communication channel and reach new customers.”
After its launch on December 8, an expansion of DouxVillage – the name reflects the movement of consumers wanting to get back to an idea of community – is planned for 2021 to other European markets. “Working abroad taught me that everything is possible if you’re ready to do the work, no matter how big or small,” Pierre says.
“People will still go to shops in person but this is a good initiative to offer an alternative to Amazon by putting local Monaco stores online,” he insists.
I’ll let you know whether Secret Santa Monaco takes off but regardless, Sébastien Lambla and Pierre Billon are delivering a real cadeau to both businesses and shoppers with DouxVillage Monaco. And you can win prizes if you shop before Christmas.
Can Anyone Stop Amazon?
Amazon has announced that this year’s holiday shopping period has been the biggest in its history. Although the e-tail giant didn’t provide a hard figure, Adobe Analytics reported that on Black Friday online spending jumped 22% this year to a record $9 billion while, according to Sensormatic Solutions, the number of shoppers physically going to stores dropped 52% compared with last year. Truist Securities on Wall Street predicts 42 cents of every dollar spent in the US during this holiday season will end up in Amazon’s coffers (up from 36 cents last year).
During Covid and confinement, let’s make an effort to support local businesses and services. Do you have a business or service to recommend for I ❤︎ MONACO? Email: GoodNewsMonaco