Comscore and UPS have released the results of the Canadian UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey, just in time for the 2013 online holiday shopping season. All Canadian shoppers surveyed had to meet the criteria of making at least two online purchases in a typical three month period. The survey was conducted in March and April, 2013 as part of a global series of surveys asking the same questions for comparable data.
The Canadian Online Market
There are about 25.5 million Internet users in Canada over the age of 15:
26% are age 15-25
22% are over the age of 55
18% are age 45-54
17% are age 35-44
17% are age 25-34
Canadian Online Shopper Satisfaction
Overall satisfaction amongst Canadian online shoppers is quite good, but some specific areas show a lot of room for improvement.
Satisfaction rates with specific aspects of online shopping:
- Choice of a specified time of day for delivery 32%
- Ability to re-route packages 34%
- Green/environmentally friendly shipping option 35%
- Choice of delivery date 37%
- Ability to purchase through a smartphone application 38%
- Option to pick up at a retail location 42%
- Ability to purchase through a tablet application 42%
- Ease of making returns/ exchanges 45%
- Ability to contact a live customer service representative 46%
- Clear & easy to understand return policy 56%
- Availability of free or discounted shipping 61%
- Number of shipping options offered 61%
- Number of payment options 62%
- Ability to create an account 65%
- Shipment tracking 66%
- Brands and product variety 73%
- Ease of check-out 74%
- Overall Satisfaction 77%
Earning Canadian Recommendations or Wrath
Some of this data won’t surprise online retailers in Canada. We are all well aware that offsetting the outrageous cost of Canadian shipping is threatening to put us out of business, for example. There are other driving factors behind good or bad reviews, however, and we can address many of them. If we make Canadians happier overall, the cost of shipping may fall in importance enough for us to make the sale. On the other hand, there are some things we simply can’t do much about. In those cases, it’s important to clearly explain limitations so the customer knows what to expect and who to blame.
What earns a positive recommendation from Canadian online shoppers?
- Shipment tracking 34%
- Free returns 35%
- Easy returns and exchanges 36%
- Receiving product when expected 53%
- Free shipping 65%
What earns negative word-of-mouth from Canadian online shoppers?
- Long and involved check-out process 26%
- Cumbersome returns 37%
- Unreliable delivery dates 38%
- Getting a refund/credit took too long 39%
- Difficulty getting package when not home to sign for it 40%
- No customer service phone number 40%
- Spammed with unsolicited e-mail offers 43%
- Store credit the only refund option 49%
- Delivery took longer than promised 50%
- Products arrived damaged due to shipping or inferior packaging 50%
- Shipping costs were too high based on expected delivery date 54%
- Shipping costs too high based on product price 69%
Mobile and Omni-channel Shopping in Canada
“Omni-channel” retailing refers to a seamless shopping experience with in-store, mobile, computer, catalogue, flyers, etc. Implementing a fully omni-channel environment involves special supply chain software with universal inventory and pricing control. Canadians who prefer omni-channel options are looking for features like cross-channel deals/price-matching, offline pick-up and in-store returns. It’s an involved and relatively expensive process to implement a multi-channel strategy. However, it can significantly boost sales and customer satisfaction while also offering a competitive advantage.
This survey underlines the importance of omni-channel options. 65% of Canadians said the most important aspect that drives them to shop with an online retailer is the ability to exchange purchases in-store. 49% said the ability to pick up their order at an offline store motivates their choice of stores to order from.
Integration with mobile devices continues to increase as a sales driver. The report states, “…more than one third of smartphone owners said they were likely to shop with a retailer who provides location-enabled coupons or promotions to their smartphone, while 33% of tablet owners said the availability of a tablet app increased their likelihood to shop with a retailer. Further emphasizing the desire for an integrated omni-channel experience, almost 30% of shoppers want to be able to purchase in store with their mobile device and want a mobile application for their smartphone.”
Providing a store mobile app can work in your favour. A mobile application allows you to provide location-based and other customized deals and promotions to users. 42% of Canadian online shoppers surveyed use a location-based deal service. 46% of Canadians surveyed said they’re less likely to comparison shop when they use a store app.
An interesting statistic in this survey is the apparent lack of interest Canadians have in ordering online with their mobile devices. While 43% of Canadians surveyed have a tablet device and 63% have a smartphone, compared to other countries we score the lowest in making purchases using these devices. Only 58% of tablet users and 46% of smartphone users use their device to order online. It’s still a significant and growing number, emphasizing the importance of mobile-optimized retail websites.
Online Shopping Carts
Why do Canadian online shoppers abandon shopping carts?
Again, it comes as no surprise that shipping cost is the number one reason that Canadians abandon shopping carts (do not complete the order). In fact, shopping carts abandoned due to shipping cost was higher than any other country surveyed. Canadian merchants must demand government interference with Canada Post, calling them on their mandate to provide affordable shipping to Canadians. It’s a sad state of affairs when we don’t even have flat rate boxes.
Top nine reasons Canadian online shoppers abandon shopping carts:
- Shipping costs made the total more than expected 61%
- Getting an idea of the total cost with shipping for comparison 60%
- Order value wasn’t large enough to qualify for free shipping 50%
- Not ready to purchase but wanted to save the cart for later 48%
- Shipping and handling costs were listed too late during the check-out process 40%
- My preferred payment option was not offered 33%
- Registration / account creation required to make a purchase 29%
- Slow load time 25%
- Checkout process too long and confusing 24%
Checkout options important to Canadian shoppers:
- Showing other items that might be of interest 23%
- Expedited shipping options for faster delivery 32%
- Ability to select delivery location that is convenient 41%
- Option to store order information (no log-in required) 43%
- A log-in so the website can remember purchasing preferences (credit card number, shipping address, etc.) 44%
- Order history 45%
- Estimated or guaranteed delivery date 57%
- Variety of payment options (PayPal, Google Checkout, etc.) in addition to a credit card 62%
- Provide estimated delivery date and shipping costs early in the process without entering all information 64%
- Free shipping 77%
The average delivery wait time acceptable to Canadian consumers is 9.8 days, with 50% saying they would wait 8 days or more. 54% of shoppers have abandoned their cart due to delivery time. More than 20% of online shoppers say they “most often” choose to pay an additional fee for faster delivery when making a purchase. The ability to track shipments is more important to Canadians than in any other country.
The number of mobile social media subscribers is up by 10% in Canada compared to December, 2011.
The top six social media networks in Canada according to this survey:
- Facebook 80%
- Twitter 32%
- LinkedIn 25%
- Google+ 24%
- Pinterest 16%
- MySpace 7%
The reasons Canadian online shoppers gave for “liking” a brand or retailer on Facebook include:
- Special promotions for Facebook fans 60%
- Ease of staying up to date with the brand or retailer 39%
- Retailer provided an incentive 39%
- They “like” all retailers they’re associated with 29%
- They like to share their opinion with the brand or retailer on Facebook 23%
“This study highlights the critical three Cs of today’s retail online customer experience – channels, choices and convenience,” said Nicolas Dorget, vice president of customer solutions, UPS Canada. “Retailers can win shoppers over by providing a consistent and positive omnichannel experience. From mobile apps to social media platforms, today’s consumers value – and even expect – services to work together across the entire shopping continuum from pre-purchase to post-purchase.”
When attempting to accommodate all the wants and needs of Canadian online shoppers, remember offline principles still apply. Consumers still want an overall pleasant shopping experience, exceptional customer service, and quality products.
This type of data is critical as we head into the 2013 holiday online shopping season. We’ll continue to keep you updated with the latest statistics.
UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper (Canada)
Comscore 2013 Media Metrix
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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 CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.