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YABE Wants To Bring The Best Of E-Commerce To The City Centers

Cyrille Derouaz and Antoine Berghen announced the launch of Yabe, a platform designed to revitalize local commerce via an application that searches and finds items for you, within your neighbourhood. Yabe works in Luxembourg and in French cities Rennes and Nancy.

Photo: Antoine Berghen, Co-founder of YABE / Credits © Kaori Anne Jolliffe / Silicon Luxembourg

The decline of convenience stores has been accentuated during the Covid crisis. Those who hadn’t adapted had to stop their activities because of a lack of customers and turnover. This saw impoverished, sad city centres, and curtains lowered by the dozens, in the least accessible pedestrian streets. But this crisis has also revealed the urgency of a change that requires agility and innovation. It has given rise to needs (deliveries, withdrawal of orders, drives, takeaways, etc.) and initiatives, as some businesses have adapted with the means and skills at their disposal.

“An online business is a reverse business. Yabe wanted to take the best of both worlds”.

The best of both worlds

“People buy online, and have the upper hand to decide everything”, explains Antoine Berghen, co-founder of Yabe with Cyrille Derouaz (Synergie Luxembourg), based in Luxembourg. Online, the notion of advice is superfluous, because the client has had time to compare before deciding.

“An online business is a reverse business. Yabe wanted to take the best of both worlds. Cyrille started from the idea that the ‘Yabers’ are the ones who don’t have time to wander for hours in the city, pay for a parking lot and only to end up not being sure about what they are looking for and eventually order it.” The web application (soon to be available on Android) allows you to post your request directly online (e.g. a novel by a specific author, a scooter, a vintage rocking chair…)

The merchants who are members will inform if they have the product or not. This allows them to manage their stock of goods and to optimize the “off-peak times” which are increasingly long in small businesses. The customer places an order and can then come and pick up the product in the store, chat with humans (not chatbots), without waiting and be assured that the product is available.

“Festivities such as the Christmas markets risk being cancelled further penalizing local shops. Yabe can help them”.

For medium-sized cities

Contrary to the marketplaces proposed at the local level which allow supplies to be delivered at home by local businesses, Yabe maintains the idea that the customer comes to pick up his order. This would, according to the founders, revitalize the suffering city centers. “We are nevertheless thinking about a self-service click & collect service for those who finish at 8 pm and cannot come during store opening hours.

“The concept takes on its full meaning in medium-sized cities with 100 to 250,000 inhabitants. This is the scale in which the problems of the attractiveness of city centers are focused. “Beyond that, the population uses the car lesser, and customers move around more easily on foot or by public transport in local shops,” adds Antoine Berghen, who has been sailing between Brittany (where he founded Yaakadev, editor’s note) and Luxembourg (where he founded the two coworking sites Paladium, editor’s note) for several years. In addition to Rennes and Luxemburg, Nancy is the launching city of Yabe, others will follow in the coming months. “Festivities such as the Christmas markets risk being cancelled further penalizing local shops. Yabe can help them.”

Basically, Yabe should allow people to move around usefully. By moving to local businesses, they will contribute to their maintenance and perhaps, by virality effect, they will want to spend an hour there to have a coffee or buy their bread in the nearby bakery? For this to work, shopkeepers will also need to be trained in the use of digital tools, and play the stock management game honestly. And if Yabe does his job well, we’ll soon have no more needs for the application!

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