There has been much concern about Canadians cross-border shopping in the U.S. since the World embraced eCommerce. More than 90% of Canadians shop across the border these days, justifying that concern, but it’s not so bad compared to the 82% global average. It’s important to note that Americans and those residing in other countries also cross-border shop online and much of it is done in Canada. We’re not a leading online destination today, but we could be tomorrow.
The reasons we shop in other countries can vary, and it’s important to understand those differences so we can use them in our strategy. While shoppers in Canada look to the U.S. for better prices and more variety, Americans go searching across their borders for unique items. Businesses here can gain a competitive advantage by offering unique products, backed by premium customer service. Promoting the savings provided by a low Canadian dollar can seal the deal.
For example, Canadian small business, AllNaturalPetCare.com, provides unique, natural pet supplements and exclusive fish food choices. Less than a quarter of all sales are made in Canada and more than 75% go to the U.S. When they shipped to other countries, approximately 4% went outside of North America. Sadly shipping time and cost made the latter impractical. Shipping costs are still the major barrier suffered by small businesses here in Canada, regardless of where they ship.
Cross-border online shopping is on the rise and is expected to explode in the next four years.
“Global eCommerce is growing across a variety of regions and countries, with online buying behavior currently representing over $1 trillion in sales per year and forecasted to nearly double within four years,” a FedEx report predicts. “Through forces such as rapid growth in emerging markets and the proliferation of digital channels through which to search for and engage with businesses, consumers all around the globe are becoming online shoppers.”
International Cross-Border Shopping Statistics
- 67% of people who shop globally spend at least 10% of their monthly budget online.
- 57% of global online shoppers buy physical, shipped products more than half the time.
- Shoppers in North America most strongly prefer physical products, accounting for at least half of their online shopping for 72% of respondents.
- 61% of respondents said they most often purchase apparel online.
- 25% shop online for books, electronics, footwear, cosmetics, computer hardware and appliances.
- Respondents from North America buy the most video games online.
- APAC region respondents buy the most food online.
Top 7 Reasons Global Online Shoppers May Avoid Small – Medium Businesses in Canada
To snag global shoppers, we must first address their concerns:
- Difficult to establish trust
- Lack of recognition
- Difficulty returning products
- Shipping costs are not competitive
- Limited payment options
- Higher prices
- Can’t rely on the level of product quality
There isn’t a whole lot we can do about shipping costs, other than continuously calling upon the Government and Canada Post to provide affordable shipping options to small businesses in Canada. Returns are an issue with online shopping in general and I believe if people want the item badly enough, it’s a risk they’re willing to take.
Higher prices can be offset with a lower Canadian dollar, unique products/bundles, excellence in customer service and little extras, such as gift wrapping. Limited payment options shouldn’t even be an issue in this day and age, with online payment processors offering bundled solutions.
The rest of consumer concerns can be addressed quite easily. One simple way to reassure shoppers is to provide testimonials that include a first and last name and province/state of residence. Not only can you have an entire page of testimonials on your site, but you can also feature individual testimonials on product pages.
Your website can work for you or against you in this regard, so keep it professional and in full working order. Make sure you choose an eCommerce platform that is ideal for your Canadian business, and choose a website host that specifically accommodates Canadian businesses. If you need help getting your brand in front of more online eyes around the World, consider starting an affiliate program. If you want to sell worldwide without the shipping hassles, there has never been a better time to bet on drop shipping.
Source: Seizing The Cross-Border Opportunity: How Small And Medium-Size Online Businesses Can Go Global. Study commissioned by FedEx and conducted by Forrester Consulting.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business
The Best eCommerce Software Platforms for Drop Shipping
10 Tips for Taking Product Photos That Sell Online
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