Canadian Digital Retail is Growing, But Continues to Lag (Statistics)

Canadian digital retail (eCommerce) is growing as more stores recognize the Internet as a necessary tool for success. Unfortunately, local stores continue to fall short of global standards, often with fatal results. A recent Ipsos Yellow Pages study has examined retail behaviour (both online and offline) in Canada, resulting in an insightful statistical snapshot of the digital landscape in this country.

Canadian Consumers Are Leaders in Online Shopping

  • 89% of Canadians purchased items online in the past 12 months. 97% of Canadians shopped in offline stores.
  • 19% bought something online at least once per week. 70% bought something in a physical store at least once per week.
  • 48% of Canadians plan to spend more online over the next two years.
  • 44% will shop online the same amount as they do now.
  • 8% will shop less online

Canadian Shoppers Also Love Researching Products Online

  • 85% of Canadian consumers did prepurchase research online, whether they planned to make the purchase online or offline.
  • 62% compared prices online.
  • 44% sought out reviews of a product or service from their online peers.
  • 35% looked for deals and discounts online.
  • 35% used the Internet for product comparisons.

What Motivates Canadians to Shop Online or In a Store

Why Canadians Shop Online:

  • 52% Price
  • 39% Not having to go out
  • 33% Product in stock
  • 28% Save time
  • 24% Wide choice of products

Why Canadians Shop in Offline Stores:

  • 52% To see the actual product
  • 46% Immediate access to the product
  • 30% Proximity/convenience
  • 28% Avoid shipping costs
  • 19% Try the product

Canadian Retailers Online

“Despite the fact that Canadians are among the world’s most digitally-connected and engaged users, it is estimated that Canadian retailers are two years behind their U.S. counterparts in adopting online technology,” the report states. “Two years can be a lifetime in the competitive world of retail.”

Alarming statistics released only a few years ago revealed over 50% of Canadian small businesses don’t have a website. This recent data paints a more promising picture of eCommerce in this country, albeit a broader perspective gained from retailers of all sizes.

  • 24% of Canadian retailers don’t have a website
  • 71% of Canadian retailers do have a website, but only one in three of them plan to invest more into it.
  • 76% of retailers will have a website in the next 12 months

The majority of Canadian retailers are aware of the increasing threat of online shopping. 59% of retailers believe that online competition will increase over the next two years.

The bad news is, 18% of retailers don’t have a website and are not planning on increasing their online presence because:

  • 30% don’t feel the need
  • 10% think it’s too expensive
  • 6% claim they don’t have time

The good news is, 66% of retailers are actively addressing online competition by:

  • 66% improving their in-store experience
  • 62% are interested in increasing their digital presence to include eCommerce
  • 52% investing more in communication
  • 48% selling online
  • 36% plan to invest more into their online presence.

What’s the Solution?

“Retailers without a meaningful digital presence are completely missing out on opportunities to sell to an enormous consumer market that is initially seen by customers through a digital lens,” the report concludes.

This study suggests online marketplaces may make Canadian eCommerce more feasible, while also allowing retailers to compete more effectively with Canada’s largest online retailers, Amazon and eBay. We suggest using these online marketplaces to get started with selling online or as part of a long-term strategy.  For example, you can Test eCommerce Waters with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

It’s also important to communicate with both local and federal governments regarding obstacles that prevent you from selling online. For example, Canadian small businesses struggle to compete at a global level online due to high shipping costs in this country.  The government must call Canada Post on its mandate to provide affordable shipping to Canadians, with significant discounts for businesses and basics like flat-rate shipping boxes.  Mandatory use of online shipping tools and increased parcel volume would more than cover the cost of discounts.

Following are some resources to help you take full advantage of all the Internet has to offer:

Top Online Business and Marketing Books of 2015
Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business
Canadian Stores Can Grab Global Online Shoppers (Statistics)
Canadian Omni-Channel Panel Shares Insights
How to Start an Affiliate Program for a Canadian Business
There are numerous free and reasonably-priced courses available to help you learn online business and related subjects, such as online marketing.

Comment on Canadians Internet BusinessHow are you bringing your retail store into the digital age? Please share your experience or questions in the comments below.

Source: Ipsos / Yellow Pages, Consumer behaviour and neighbourhood stores: Understanding the changing digital landscape, March 2016.


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4 Responses to "Canadian Digital Retail is Growing, But Continues to Lag (Statistics)"

  1. Nanc  July 24, 2016

    No matter what I type in search engines it’s SO hard to find Canadian stores! Half the time I get stores taht aren’t even in this country and mostly just the big stores here. I’d love to find more independent Canadian businesses to order from or find new stores where I live. Maybe the search engines are biased too?

  2. Donna Burtt  July 11, 2016

    Growth is good but it’s really strange that Canadian businesses aren’t expanding their business to the internet. Are they afraid of making money?

    • Cendrine Marrouat  August 1, 2016

      From advising many clients in Canada on social media, I can tell you one thing: Small business owners are scared of going online. They don’t really understand the benefits of using social media beyond self-promotion.

  3. BrentWillis  July 11, 2016

    It’s great that it’s growing at least. There’s tons of Canadians who want to shop online but the stores just aren’t there. I think part of the problem is they don’t know how to promote themselves so Canadians see them. They need to learn marketing or hire. Content is far behind too. But we’re getting there.


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