Amaury, owners of various French press titles including L’Equipe and Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France and sports events including, most notably, the Tour de France, announced today in Le Figaro that they’ve made a €3.5 million investment in shopping comparison engine Shoptimise via its parent company Swaven. Swaven was founded in 2012 by Criteo cofounder Laurent Quatrefages and RideSpirit cofounder Sébastien Thiberge, whose goal was to launch a price comparison engine that would give consumers better transparency on pricing of everyday goods across various outlets. A year later, Shoptimise.fr was born which allows consumers to compare prices of a basket of goods in real-time across 16 different chains, whether they be in-store or on-line. Once they’ve optimized their basket, consumers can then proceed to buy at whichever chain they choose.
While Shoptimise.fr focuses on the end-consumer, they also have offers targeting brands directly. The first is Shoptimise Insights which allows companies to position their brands on a map showing in real-time which channels/outlets their brands’ and their competitors’ are carried in, what their current availability is, and which promotions are currently running. The second solution, Shoptimise Campaigns, allows brands to leverage the data gathered via Shoptimise’s platform to run more efficient customer acquisition and loyalty programs.
In his interview with Le Figaro, Amaury director general Philippe Carli explained that investing in fast-growing digital startups was and will continue to be an important part of their strategy. This has become even more pertinent for them given that the press side of their business had a very tough 2013 as circulation of their hallmark title L’Equipe and Le Parisien declined 11.4% and 8.8% respectively. As more of their readership and consumers have been migrating towards digital media, Amaury has grown digital’s share of their bottom line to 15% and have invested indirectly in the tech sector in funds ISAI and Hi Innov. However, with the Shoptimise investment, their strategy is obviously switching towards more direct investment in digital businesses. While the price comparison engine space may not seem directly complimentary to their existing business portfolio, as Carli highlights Shoptimise can help them offer better and more targeted promotions and content for their readers. In addition, it also enables Amaury to offer more effective and data-driven promotional services for their advertising partners.
Perhaps drawing on the legacy of Kelkoo France’s most notable success in the the price comparison space, it’s clear from all the recent transaction activity, including Shopmium’s $5.6m round last year, Prixing’s exit, Monsieurdrive’s €2m round led by Schibsted and now Amaury’s investment in Shoptimise, that ‘shopping tech’ continues to be one of France’s most promising tech sectors.