Hot Canadian eCommerce Market Captivates Merchants Globally

Data from a number of sources paints a bright picture of Canadian online retail. Sales and marketing insights, combined with Canadian web usage statistics, facilitate a sound strategy for 2017. An internet retail presence is more important than ever, as international retailers set their sights on the growing online shopping market in this country.

eMarketer reports the overall Canadian e-retailing market grew by an estimated 16.8% to $29.6 billion, and is expected to grow another 14.8% this year. The American eCommerce market grew 14.6% last year and that’s expected to decline somewhat this year.

The rate of Canadian eCommerce market growth has caught the eye of international merchants. It hasn’t escaped their notice that Canadians are eager to buy online, but retailers in Canada have been slow to serve them there. This observation has inspired global merchants to target the Canadian online shopper more aggressively.

“The Canadian online retail industry is calling out for more merchants to take their share of a growing pie,” Internet Retailer writes. “Analysts expect that Canadian consumers will spend more than $22 billion ($30 billion Canadian Dollars) online this year, but the domestic players are capturing less than half of those sales. American e-retailers are well advised to look across our northern border to help boost their sales.”

The good news is Canadian merchants can still win out over international competition.  Statistics have indicated Canadians prefer to shop within our borders if they have the choice. They also prefer to avoid higher shipping costs, duty and brokerage charges, and the exchange on our weak dollar.  Businesses of all sizes have discovered how easy it is to run an online store using platforms such as Canada’s Shopify.

The following data from ComScore will help familiarize you with online Canadians and their shopping habits.

State of Canadian Online Retail

  • Canada’s total digital population is 30.5 million
  • 28.2 million are reached online via desktop
  • 19.9 million are reached via smartphones (2.3 million) & tablets
  • 7% of Canadians access the internet using mobile only
  • 58% access the internet using multiple platforms
  • 35% access the internet using Desktop only
  • 85% of 18-34 year old millennials use mobile & 11% don’t use a desktop at all.
  • 80% of 35-54 year olds use multiple platforms
  • Canadians age 55+ have the most desktop-only users, but that number is shrinking.

Canadian Digital Demographics

Online Canadians are 51% male and 49% female

Age of Online Canadians:
18% are under 18
27% are 18-34
32% are 35-54
22% are over the age of 55

23% of online Canadians are French
77% of online Canadians have a first language other than French.

2016 Data for Online Retail in Canada

  • Canadian online retailers enjoyed 23.1 million unique visitors. Their favourite place to advertise was on social media (28% share of display ad impressions).
  • 2.5 billion total minutes spent (up 47% from 2015), about 106 minutes per visitor.
  • 23.5 million Canadian shoppers are online, representing 94.6% of the total digital population.
  • 43% of retail shoppers were looking for apparel.
  • 15.3 million shoppers are engaging with content using both mobile and desktop devices.
  • 3.1 million shoppers access digital using mobile alone.
  • 47% of digital Canadians access retail using a desktop computer.
  • 28% use a smartphone app
  • 10% use a smartphone browser
  • 7% use a tablet app
  • 7% use a tablet browser

Top 10 Online Retailers - Canada

Comparison Shopping in Canada

The Internet facilitates price comparison in a big way. Canadians use it as a tool to save money, but price isn’t always the deciding factor.

Top 10 Sites Used for Comparison Shopping in Canada

  1. Kijiji
  2. Price Find Canada
  3. Connexity
  4. Nextag
  5. Shopbot
  7. Google product search
  8. Consumer Search
  9. Shop Local
  10. LeGuide

Canadians Love Coupons

Canadians frequently visited coupon sites in 2016. There were 10 million unique visitors to coupon sites from Canada in 2016, up 10% from 2015. They stayed an average of 79 minutes per visit. Coupons are especially popular among mobile users.

Top 10 Mobile Coupon Sites by Total Unique Visitors

  1. Groupon 2.7 Million
  2. Flipp 2.3 Million
  3. PCPlus 1.8 Million
  4. Protege 1.5 Million
  5. Reebee 733,000
  6. 615,000
  7. Zweet 580,000
  8. 400,000
  9. eBates 300,000
  10. Smart Canucks 300,000

Need Some Help?

If you’re trying to bring your company online, you may find the following articles helpful:

Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business
Canadian Stores Can Grab Global Online Shoppers (Statistics)
Test eCommerce Waters with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Canadians Online: Statistics to Guide Your Multi-Channel Strategy
How to Start an Affiliate Program for a Canadian Business
There are lots of free and reasonably-priced courses available to help you learn online business and related subjects, such as online marketing.

Knowing the Canadian eCommerce market is crucial to success, and that alone gives Canadian merchants an edge over international stores. Target and many other stores found out the hard way that the Canadian market is different from any other.  Success elsewhere doesn’t guarantee success in Canada.  We have the inside scoop just by living here. Statistics like those provided here will fortify your online retail strategy and help you win against competitors around the world.

Comment on Canadians Internet BusinessHave you found eCommerce success in Canada? Please share your tips with your peers in the comments below.


© – Content on this website (all or in part) may NOT be used elsewhere without expressed permission. Content theft will result in legal action. Thank you for respecting the effort that we have put into our original content. If you would like to have high quality content created for you, please contact our writer directly.

DISCLOSURE: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED – Legitimate comments will be published after a short delay. Spam, trolling and brand bashing will not be published.






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

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

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.

Follow Melody McKinnon on Medium:

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Somebody is going to sell to Canadians and it should be Canadian businesses but they don’t seem to be interested. The company I work for is really going after the Canadian market this year and we’re building a site just for Canadians with a warehouse located in Winnipeg for fulfillment = no duty! We have brainstorming meetings every week or two. I believe the key to success is having Canadian experts on board and we hired the first of those last year but they’re tough to find. That’s the part of our strategy that brought me to you (Melody) and our recruiter will be in touch with you soon. Thanks for the info, we’ll be reviewing it at the next brainstorming meeting!

Trevor Alward

PERFECT! My boss & I have been debating online coupons but we weren’t sure if they were still popular or if they ever WERE popular in Canada and hadn’t a clue where to go to promote them if we did decide to offer them. Then I saw your post on LinkedIn and came to read it without even knowing you had coupon stats. Nice coincidence. 🙂 I think you’re right too, no time to waste. We’re going to get hammered by the US if we don’t get on top of online business and online marketing.

Shawnda T

I can’t for the life of me figure out why there aren’t more Canadian stores online. I’m in marketing and I see Canadians eagerly responding to e-commerce but they can’t find local or national businesses online to buy from! Of course they prefer to buy Canadian, why wouldn’t they? They want to support their home economy but trying to get small businesses online here is like pulling teeth. It’s like they’re terrified of it. Add the fact that shipping costs so much here and they just give up.

The problem is they can’t survive if they don’t make the move. Canadian retail could end up like the dinosaurs. I know its tough to find experts to lead your business online but find them and get it done before you’re history!