Investigation Exposes Canada’s Lack of Truly Omni-Channel Retailers

Omni-channel data is usually based on surveys, where companies are asked about their practices. However, what we think we’re doing and what we’re actually doing can be two entirely different things. With an overall lack of understanding of omni-channel, the results of such surveys can be particularly unreliable. Order Dynamics took a different approach, investigating 200 multi-store Canadian retailers to determine if they are truly offering multi-channel services to their customers. The results show Canada has only begun to adopt multi-channel services. As a result, retailers are not reaching their full potential in today’s competitive environment.

Omni-channel services are the “ace in the hole” that could allow Canadian retailers to compete on a global level online. It allows them to offer consumers something that global digital retail usually can’t. Combined with the shoppers’ demonstrated preference for supporting Canadian businesses, omni-channel services are a powerful sales strategy.

Unfortunately, even those who have begun to adopt omni-channel services aren’t promoting it adequately. For example, just over half featured the option to pick up orders in-store on their home page. Yet 78% of those that offer free shipping boldly advertise it on their home page. Considering the fact that free shipping costs the business money and in-store pick-up saves them that expenditure, in-store pick-up should be promoted even more. Additionally, in-store pick-up increases foot traffic and drives up the purchase volume by 58%.

Canadian Online Retailer Capabilities

  • eCommerce 82%
  • Click & Collect – Buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) 23.5%
  • Basic Inventory Visibility 56%
  • Buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) 68.9%
  • Free Shipping with Minimum Purchase 78%

With the increasing availability of affordable cloud and pick-up options, these numbers are expected to increase over the next few years. Omni-channel is becoming feasible for smaller chains and businesses.

“Since total cost of ownership (TCO) of cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) OMS (Order Management Systems) systems have a distinct cost advantage over on-premise solutions, critical systems like an OMS are now available to all retail chain sizes,” states the Order Dynamics report. “Various different options exist for the collect part of the in-store pickup. Options include an online purchase shipped to the store for pickup, available at an in-store locker, and available to pick up at the chain or partner chain. Other options are corner store pickups, items delivered to a customer’s car (curb-side pickup), postal outlet pickup, or a special mall pickup area (ex. Penguin pickup).”

Ecommerce platforms like Canada’s Shopify do much of the heavy-lifting for retailers. It’s affordable, scalable, user-friendly, and one of the most feature-rich platforms in the world. They provide an expert launch manager too, which is invaluable to those new to multi-channel. Shopify powers GE, Nestle and Budweiser, to name a few. In fact, Shopify Powers Over 500,000 Businesses in 175 Countries!

Is it worth it for smaller retailers? A recent RSM Retailer Omni-channel survey of middle-market retailers with functioning omni-channel strategies, found that participants had an average of a 40% increase in new customers and a 36% increase in total sales volume in the past 12 months. That’s during a time when overall retail sales growth was in the single digits. Clearly, it’s a profitable endeavor.

Retailers that want to remain relevant and profitable must begin to implement omni-channel options and provide a seamless shopping experience. When they do, it’s important to feature these options early in the sales process. As more of their competitors adopt omni-channel, those who lag behind will find themselves struggling to remain competitive.

Comment on Canadians Internet BusinessWhat omni-channel strategies have you implemented? Please share your comments or questions below.

OMNI-1000 Research Canada: Are Retailers Truly Offering Omni-Channel Services To Shoppers?
RSM Retailer OmniChannel Survey

You may also be interested in reading:
Canadians Online: Statistics to Guide Your Multi-Channel Strategy
Study: Omni-Channel is the Key to Success in Retail Today
Canadian Retailers Facing Omnichannel Challenges (Statistics & Slides)


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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.

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I’m not surprised. Most of them are struggling with basic ecommerce. I’m worried about Canadian businesses being crowded out of online sales because they’re too afraid to try. It’s sad.