Data Reveals What’s Most Important to Online Canadian Consumers

Canadian businesses have been thrown into a world where a digital strategy has gone from ‘nice to have’ to an absolute necessity. The timeline to adopt digital has accelerated, leaving many entrepreneurs overwhelmed.

The expanse of digitalization has grown from having a website with ecommerce functionality to the need to meet customers wherever they are, online or offline. The critical importance of backup supply chains, efficient distribution, flexible logistics and having Canadian options, has broadened and burdened strategic planning.

One thing hasn’t changed though, and that’s the need to give consumers what they want. If you start with that, you can determine what you are able to provide now and how to prioritize future steps in your digital transformation.

But what exactly is most important to Canadian online shoppers?

What Canadian Online Shoppers Want

A recent consumer insights report from PWC helps to answer that question.

Online Shopping

Canadian respondents were asked, “In the current climate, which of the following [top three] attributes are important to you when shopping online?”

  1. In-stock availability of items I want 50%
  2. Fast/reliable delivery (same day delivery, pick up online purchases in a physical location location, visibility of the product throughout the delivery process, etc.) 44%
  3. A good return policy (free returns, return items to store when purchased online, etc.) 38%
  4. Availability of online customer reviews 31%
  5. Easy website navigation to find products I’m interested in 27%
  6. The ability to see an extended range of inventory by comparison to physical stores 22%
  7. Easy to use mobile app/interface 21%
  8. Exclusive or limited edition offerings, memberships or loyalty programs online 13%
  9. Personalized offering 12%
  10. Live chat functionality 10%
  11. Virtual experience of products and services through augmented reality (AR) technology 7%
  12. Virtual consultation with sales associate 5%

Brand Attributes

Canadian respondents were asked, “Considering this list of brand attributes, which of the following [top three] influence your likelihood to remain loyal to a brand?”

  1. Reliability (the brand always delivers what I expect) 50%
  2. Loyalty programs 41%
  3. Exceptional customer service 32%
  4. Products that are widely available 29%
  5. Ethical practices (e.g. Fairtrade, cruelty-free testing, workforce equity, best in practice production, etc.) 28%
  6. Enjoyable/fun experience (e.g. entertaining interaction with the brand) 19%
  7. Sustainable practices 19%
  8. Personalization 14%
  9. Commitment to giving back to society 14%
  10. Exclusivity 11%
  11. Seamless digital experience 8%
  12. Engaging content (social media, influencers, advertising, etc.) 7%

“As organizations restructure and move forward, they’ll need to understand what truly differentiates them from their competitors—and how to deliver on that,” advises the PWC report. “Winners will be those that understand how to make the digital experience seamless with the physical. They’ll be those that develop alternative ways of fulfilling customer needs and take advantage of quickly changing customer preferences and behaviours.”

Getting Started

Most digital improvements are relatively easy to provide and you can start with those.

The majority of Canadian small businesses are using an ecommerce platform, such as Canada’s Shopify, for both online and offline omni-channel sales. Ecommerce platforms make it easy to start offering loyalty programs and other consumer-pleasing features with a vast selection of apps that add functionality to your online store. Ecommerce platforms and their apps can also help with product sourcing, fulfillment and reduce the cost of payment processing and shipping through group rates.

Alternatively, you can use self-hosted WordPress and its WooCommerce platform enhanced by plugins. It’s not as robust as major platforms like Shopify, but it’s less expensive and adequate for smaller companies or individual sellers.

How are you giving Canadian online shoppers what they want? Please comment below or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.  Sign up for our newsletter to be notified as more data is published.


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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.

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I think Canadian shoppers are a little more patient than Americans. I guess because we had to be when it comes to getting anything delivered since catalogues became a thing. Doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way though! Tolerance levels are shifting … PAY ATTENTION!

Bernard Co.

Like the USA more or less but good to see a Canadian list. I think Canada is more into loyalty programs for some reason. 🙂