MRSB Marketing Officer Lucy Gotell on where Canadian online retail stands now, and how it can leap forward in 2015 wrote:
“Across the United States last year, the number of shoppers gracing department stores and other retail outlets continued to drop. Does this mean Americans are buying less? Hardly. Polling monster Gallup recently reported that the average daily spend of the typical American consumer was a healthy $98 in December, stronger than 2013 numbers. The difference is in how and where U.S. consumers are spending money, with online retail or eCommerce biting off a bigger piece of the pie each year. Some projections see eCommerce sales growing to over $400 billion in the U.S. by 2018. Where does Canada stand amidst this unprecedented online growth? Sadly, several steps behind. According to recent Forrester Research, in Britain close to 15% of overall retail sale are made online, in the U.S. it’s 9%. And in Canada? We stand at at a meagre 6%.
So what’a holding us back? Well, not to get too Freudian, but part of the problem seems to be an deep-seated aversion, or perhaps just a lack of clear incentive, to conducting business online. Approximately 25% of Canadian small businesses don’t yet have any online presence (i.e. a website). And a recent Global News article points out that, far from embracing ‘omni-channel’ shopping, Canadian branches of some major retailers don’t offer online purchasing, even though their U.S. locations do. Unfortunately, this unwillingness to get with the times has meant the loss of would-be customers to U.S. counterparts who are more digitally integrated.
40% of Canadians are already spending money online with foreign retailers because homegrown stores are arriving late to the party.
So what should we do? Well, for starters, those without a web presence need to talk to their local designer or try their hand at WordPress as soon as they can. As for those with a website but without online buying options, we need to first understand that shoppers won’t simply rebuff eCommerce and choose the local brick-and-mortar store in its absence. To the contrary, they’ll click their way to the fastest, simplest (and often cheapest) option, whether here or south of the border. According to research from Best Buy Canada, 40% of Canadians are already spending money online with foreign retailers because homegrown stores are arriving late to the party – or have no plans to attend at all. Some estimates suggest that Amazon, Walmart and Apple (in the U.S.) take in about half of the $21.6 billion in Canadian eCommerce sales annually. In other words, if we had the same range of choice here as consumers south of the border do, we’d happily spend more on Canadian brands. To borrow from a cliched but well-suited film quote, ‘If you build it, they will come!'”
Come on Canadian businesses, you cannot afford to stay still and watch.