Online Shopper Statistics Reveal Issues with Canada’s E-Retailers

Canadian online retailers have improved but online shoppers indicate they have a long way to go, a survey by Forrester Research Inc. has concluded. The survey was conducted in partnership with Canada Post to understand why 25% of Canadian online consumers are still shopping internationally. Forrester Research surveyed 1,103 Canadian online shoppers for their State of Canadian Online Retail 2013 report.

The top four reasons online consumers gave for avoiding Canadian e-retailers were:

  1. Shipping costs – 68%
  2. Product selection – 80% say they’ve shopped internationally because they couldn’t find the product in Canada
  3. Price – 62% (81% of Canadian online shoppers do their price comparing with search engines, and 56% use Amazon to check out prices.
  4. Multi-channel and cross-channel integration – Offline store, e-commerce, mobile, etc.

When it comes to cross-channel functionality and customer service, consumers want it all:

  • 65% want the option of returning online purchases to offline stores.
  • 61% want to view offline inventory online.
  • 56% want matching online and offline store prices.
  • 41% want the option to pick up their online purchases at an offline store.
  • 39% want stores to ship items that are currently out of stock to their homes for free.

The current statistics are frightening, and they’re expected to get worse as major US retailers (such as Target, J. Crew and Nordstrom) invade this side of the border.

The State of Canadian Online Retail 2013 report summary states, “On paper, the Canadian online retail market has been going through a renaissance, fueled by a proliferation of localized stores and cross-border shipping options from US and international brands. Furthermore, Canadian brands, reacting to the growing number of incursions by foreign competitors, have doubled down on their own eCommerce strategies. Despite all this progress, the unfortunate truth is that online shopping in Canada still falls far short of consumer expectations.”

What’s Really Going On?

Studies like this are enlightening, but they always leave me with more questions than answers. Why aren’t Canada’s retailers giving online shoppers what they want?

ePath Consulting apparently had similar questions, because they proceeded to conduct their own study with the 2013 Canadian eBusiness Manager survey. ePath invited participants from some of the biggest names in Canadian e-commerce, and 69 Canadian e-business Managers responded to the survey. Many of those respondents also agreed to be interviewed. The result is a more meaty report with actionable conclusions for online businesses. Please have a look at the highlights in the below slideshow and share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Click the icon in the lower right corner to view full-screen.

What are you doing to grab your share of online shoppers in Canada? Please share your insights in the comments.

Forrester Research Inc.
ePath Consulting

You may also be interested in reading:
Online Canadian Businesses Need Easy, Affordable Shipping Options
Help for the 54% of Canadian Small Businesses Without a Website (Statistics)
Canadians Lead the World in Internet Usage


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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I’d still buy Canadian if it was just the price of the product that was more but when you combine that with high shipping it’s just beyond logic to order here. I hope Canada Post has learned something from its survey and will work to lower shipping prices.

Perry B.

The US sites make it so easy to order from them. Maybe Canadian sites can learn from that.

Nina L

Shipping is our biggest obstacle. People abandon carts, write to complain, etc. I bet we lost half of our sales to shipping.


GREAT SITE! It’s always a treat to find Canadian business content & stats. I have to agree that Canadian businesses are getting better but it’s not enough to just offer online shopping, we have to do it well. It’s great if people can learn from books and whatever they find online about it. Some people need a classroom though and that’s where the gov could step in.


When it comes to doing business online, Canada is an embarassment to itself. There should be programs to educate and reassure Canadian entrepreneurs so they don’t sit around cowering behind the border. It’s not like it takes a million dollars to try out online business.


This is antastic information! Thanks for gathering it up.


Shipping is definitely the biggest problem! It’s ironic that CP is behind the study, they must’ve thought they’d be able to say it isn’t shipping but that backfired.


Love the collection of statistics here….great site!


Canadian retailers just don’t seem to be excited about the profit potential of online business. It’s high time they learned more about it and get going.


It has been my experience that eCommerce managers often have way too much dumped on them to do a proper job in some areas. Analytics are demanded by most companies because they’re a language they understand. Unfortunately they also take a lot of time. What would be truly useful is a specially trained eCommerce assistant who can shoulder part of the load. You could probably hire one for the same wages as a sales & marketing assistant ($15-$19/hour here). A lot of the tasks could also be done remotely by a virtual assistant.


It’s truly intimidating to tackle online business. It’s easier to pretend even a halfassed job is better than doing nothing.
Also I don’t know how many I’ve heard entrepreneurs say things like “I’ve been in business for 30 years without a website and I don’t need one now.” Well we all did business without computers for hundreds of years too, that doesn’t mean we don’t need them to do it properly now!


Canadian businesses don’t know what to look for in ecommerce or emarketing staff. They rely on a piece of paper that says someone is educated in it or they take someone’s word for it if they say they know what they’re doing. Then they end up with bunch of managers who think they know it all when in fact they don’t know the half of it as the slide show mentions. It’s also too easy for them to convince their boss they’re doing everything right because he/she doesn’t know any better. Go online and recruit the best of the best when you see them and don’t concern yourself with a degree that’s probably outdated anyway. If this sounds familiar it’s because I learned it from the author! LOL Thanks for sharing your widsom Mel, I pretend it’s my own all the time. 😉 😉

Vincent B.

Thanks for these statistics & video.


I believe Canadian businesses are afraid of ecommerce so they just don’t go there.