Franchising: digitalization as a growth driver

4 August 2022

The term “digitalization” has invaded our daily lives. Today, every company, local shop, leisure facility and so on has embarked on its “digital transformation”.

So, sure, we’ve got an idea of what’s involved, but do we really know what digitization really means? In what way is it a growth driver for the trade? What about franchises?


To understand what we’re talking about: the definition of digitalization appeared at the same time as the Internet. It’s the integration of new digital technologies into traditional processes, tools, everyday objects and professions, all with the aim of improving their performance.

To shed some light on digitalization and its impact on franchise networks, we spoke to Steny Sylvain Solitude, co-founder of Bewifi. This software solution enables retailers to share their wifi access simply and securely. In particular, Bewifi works with several franchisees. Its co-founder explains what he sees as the real challenges of digitalization for franchisees.

Digitalization: a must for franchises?

According to the 18th Annual Franchise Survey, franchise networks have already embraced digital technology.

A trend confirmed by Steny Sylvain Solitude. “What we’re seeing is that, whatever the business, the reasons given by retailers for going digital are that they want to serve and focus on their customers, on their core business.. They want these tools to improve the way they do their job, but without polluting it. It shouldn’t add to their time. Nor should it be intrusive for their customers. It really has to be a virtuous circle for everyone.

In addition to creating a website and social networks, most franchises have already begun the process of digitalization, and franchisees are offering their customers a wide range of services: geolocation (9 out of 10 franchisees), display of promotional offers (65% of franchisees), click and collect (around 50%), online appointment booking (59% in the service sector), etc.

“These are indispensable tools, particularly in the context of Covid, but also depending on the moment in the customer’s life. Because they make it possible to offer products and services in any type of situation,” adds Steny Sylvain Solitude. Among our customers are franchises whose aim is to save time by automating tasks and thus create links. »

Is digitalization an effective growth driver?

Close to the franchises he works with on a daily basis, Steny Sylvain Solitude believes that that digital is an obvious growth driver. “It provides a more personalized, contextualized link, based on customer expectations according to their location, life cycle or journey. It’s a digital and interactive tool, yes, but it’s still human, because it enables us to offer a personalized, tailor-made user experience,” he demonstrates.

This was amply demonstrated by the 18th Annual Franchise Survey, which found that digital innovation is recognized by industry professionals as a real growth driver. 70% of franchisees recognize that this has had a positive impact on their outlet’s business. For 49% of them, this positive impact occurred in the very first year.

Environment, proximity, people: the limits of digitalization

Convinced by digitalization, which has enabled them not only to withstand the crisis but also to develop new sales channels, 90% of franchisors want to continue investing in digitalization over the next twelve months.

However, Steny Sylvain Solitude warns against this mad rush, pointing out two main limitations. The first is environmental and societal. “Society is at a turning point, with climate change in particular, and people are asking a lot of questions about what constitutes good living. For me, it’s essential to revitalize the neighborhood life that so many people want to see revitalized. Of course, the big chains and franchises are essential to this dynamism, but people aspire to a pleasant life in their neighborhood or within a few kilometers of their home. We’re increasingly looking to consume locally. This desire is in line with a more balanced and healthy use of digital tools to promote proximity. »

The second point concerns the raison d’être of franchises and the values they embody. According to Steny Sylvain Solitude, it’s important to rationalize this race, which makes digital a formidable tool , but it mustn’t be too present either, and remain in phase with the values of the franchisee/franchisor.

“It’s when a franchise grows from 10 to 50, to 100 points of sale, when services start piling up, that the question of rationalizing digitalization arises: aren’t we moving away from our core business? Aren’t we losing touch with our visitors and customers? That’s another balancing act.

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