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[Interview] Antoine Libois (My American Shop): “We aim to become the European leader in ethnic products”

[Interview] Antoine Libois (My American Shop): “We aim to become the European leader in ethnic products”
  • Antoine Libois, My American Shop

Since its launch in 2020, My American Shop, Belgian online shop for American and Asian specialities, has doubled its sales every year. Now Europe is the target. Founder Antoine Libois also sees great potential for B2B business.

Phenomenal demand

It seems like a Walloon version of the american dream. After a family trip to Chicago, 16-year-old Antoine Libois started importing and selling American soft drinks, sweets and crisps from his bedroom. Today, as a 23-year-old, he runs an e-commerce company with 50 employees, 2,500 products, 200,000 customers and a turnover of more than 10 million euros. My American Shop already delivers in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Soon, the rest of Europe should follow.

The America fan started with an online shop on Shopifiy with 150 to 200 American references that you couldn’t find here, and in full Covid period decided to go full steam ahead. “Immediately the demand was phenomenal. We already had to move a few times. Our two depots in Nivelles, together accounting for 5,000 m², have also become too small, so we have to think about other solutions.”

Noodles, sauces and soft drinks

My American Shop does what traditional retailers cannot: “Supermarkets only offer a basic range, a small selection of about fifty products. With us, you will find two thousand. The average order with us is ten products. We are the specialist.” The company manages the entire supply chain itself: from import and customs to repacking and shipping. “We label the products ourselves in the customer’s language. For shipping, we work with partners such as PostNL, bpost, Mondial Relay…”

Besides American products, Asian products were soon added, which are also in high demand. Success numbers in the range include Asian instant noodles, barbecue sauces and the extensive range of drinks. “Many people are fans of American soft drinks with distinctive flavours. Fanta strawberry or pineapple are real bestsellers with us. After all, Fanta does not offer those in Belgium or France.”

Speed and agility

With trendy products, the e-tailer is more likely to appeal to young people, while there are also more traditional products for an older audience of expats, or people who got to know the products while travelling.

My American Shop’s strength lies in its use of social media as a marketing tool. “We have 200,000 followers on TikTok, 100,000 on Instagram, 130,000 on Facebook and we work with influencers. We follow and create the hypes. We are fast and agile, that’s in the culture of this company.” Of his ambition, Antoine Libois makes no secret: “We want to become the European market leader in ethnic products. That’s our vision: either we become the leader or we don’t do it.”

Business-to-business as a lever

The entrepreneur calls Belgium “an incredible hub for e-commerce”. And that while many Belgian companies are complaining about the high costs that hamper e-commerce here. “Complaining will get you nowhere,” he believes. “You have to move forward. We have on our board of directors Jérôme Gobbesso, co-founder of Newpharma. They too started from a depot in Liège. Yet they managed to keep growing year on year, from zero to 150 million euros in less than eight years. Even though they could have moved across the border, just 20 minutes away. We inspire in part on their model to do the same.”

One of the levers for further growth will be the expansion of a business-to-business activity. “We are now getting more and more demand from professional customers who want to be able to offer these products as ‘in & out’. In doing so, we are tapping into a market that is even much larger than the current one. Then we are no longer talking about tens, but hundreds of millions of euros.”

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