E-Commerce in Canada - The Next Frontier

E-Commerce in Canada - The Next Frontier

Technology | Posted by YouInc.com - September 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm

E-Commerce in Canada - The Next Frontier | Image

Why is it that Canadians lag behind most developed countries when it comes to e-commerce?  Good question! I’ve been trying to figure it out for years. Reports suggest that it is a combination of shipping prices/processes, lack of online options, credit card worries and general Canadian conservative behavior.

But that was then, and this is now. Over the last 3 years, Canada has seen the launch of some major players in the online landscape.  Many US retailers have improved their game, providing a Canadian specific destination (where before there was the hassle of ordering from their US sites). Companies like Gap, J. Crew and Sephora have made significant efforts to streamline their processes.

And there are the Canadian players who’ve done an excellent job of providing a multi-channel experience like Indigo, Roots and lululemon. 

But then there’s what I like to call “the old stodges.” These ones have been taking their sweet old time to get online, and if they are online it is far from seamless (yes, Holt Renfrew, I’m talking to you). But as they say, competition is good so the influx from our neighbours to the south (Saks, Nordstrom and Target to name a few) will ultimately provide the type of online offerings experience that Canadian consumers want and deserve.

I believe that over the next 2 to 3 years we will see a major change in the Canadian e-commerce landscape. Demand breeds supply so when the big players come in, it will put the appropriate pressure on our infrastructure suppliers (shipping, logistics, manufacturers) to provide the same offerings as those available in other countries.

So what does that mean for you? Online shopping from your home and native land (and on your sofa).

Joanna Track | Image

About the author: Joanna Track is the founder and former CEO of Sweetspot.ca and eLUXE.ca. Her professional sweet spot is marketing, branding, fashion and lifestyle, and ecommerce. As a result, she has a strong penchant for shopping online. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Tags: teachers, transformation, jim dimenna, online, writing, collaboration, competition, reputation, trends

Jonathan Blaine
September 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm

As someone who has lived in both the US and Canada, I always think "those poor Canadians" when I get yet another $ off coupon or free after rebate offers from Staples.com in my email and free shipping but not Staples.ca. Then there's the simply awful selection on Amazon.ca compared to it's US big brother. Prices, too, are issues: much higher in Canada on almost anything. Added excise taxes are not the whole story.

Some bricks and mortar US companies that have expanded into Canada have brought their loyalty-building branding with them, such as Bed Bath & Beyond and PetSmart.  However, Canadian companies stick with points that take forever to be rewarded (i.e. Staples in Canada), while US consumers get immediate, or close to immediate, payback or reasons to return within a few days to buy something else.

US companies are coming in to Canada, but are realizing they will leave money on the table if they charge prices similar to the hyper-competitive US, so simply are not doing that.

The big problem in Canada is that shipping is just too darned expensive. Canada Post is about double that of the USPS, for example, and the private carriers do not give the same discounts as businesses enjoy south of the border. Until that changes, Canadian e-commerce will be as hot as a February day in Moose Jaw.

Mark Burdon
September 11, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Canadians have built some great e-commerce companies in terms of e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Demac for service. We have a large country to ship across and finding the right shipping partner is almost as key for e-Tailers as the technology. With the window shopping that happens online or showrooming that has punished electronics companies like Best Buy retailers have to find the right delivery model. One of the best Canadian Commerce sites that I have used is good old Canadian Tire as you can find the inventory status online for your local store and they have a great mobile app as well. 

There are great interviews on this topic from Canadian e-Commerce gurus (Joanna I didn't see you being interviewed but you might be in here from a recent Digital Innovation show here:


Graeme Macrae
September 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm

There is statement in the blog that Canadians are lagging in e-commerce, but it did not include a link to the statistics on this? I searched a little bit and came across this, http://www.thestar.com/business/tech_news/2013/08/21/not_all_canadians_love_to_shop_online_study.html

This article seems to have a different conclusion relating to our national desire for in store shopping for better deals.

My company sells wholesale, but we also have a online retail presence. We offer free shipping anywhere in Canada with all transactions being done securely through Paypal. We also guarantee the quality of all our products where if a customer is not totally satisfied upon receiving it they can contact us and return it. (By the way no one has ever returned anything.) Without implementing these actions selling online would be very hard.

If you eliminate all the fears a consumer may have for shopping online, you will then see better results.