Canadian E-Tailers Having Trouble Holding Onto Canadian Shoppers

Given the extensive Canadian retail/e-tail community, this is a frightening statistic: One out of every four dollars spent by Canadian shoppers is going to non-Canadian retailers, quite often U.S. retailers, according to a report from Forrester and Canada Post.

Some 66 percent of all Canadian online shoppers told the survey that they've purchased from a non-Canadian site "at least once," according to Internet Retailer. "The report highlights four areas in which Canadian e-retailers are falling short of customer expectations: shipping costs, product assortments, prices and a lack of omnichannel (merged channel) shopping capabilities."

Drilling into the numbers offers some hints as to the reason for the lack of Canadian cart loyalty. Of those who said they shopped outside Canada, an overwhelming 80 percent said it was because they couldn't find the products they were looking for with Canadian merchants. This undercuts the argument that the cross-border trade is because of currency exchange issues or because of the shipping speed or pricing. A "couldn't find" complaint either means a product mix (do they sell this item?) or inventory (have it but have sold out) problem, or it might simply be an SEO or a site search problem (you have the items, but shoppers can't find them) or, more likely, all of the above.

That isn't to say that shipping and pricing are non-issues. A smaller majority (68 percent for shipping costs and 62 percent for online pricetags) did cite those as reasons to look globally—or at least across the border. Another frightening stat: "37 percent of respondents said they can find the same products cheaper on U.S. web sites than on the sites of Canadian retailers, even with customs, taxes and shipping costs included," Internet Retailer said.

Other items on the virtual shopping lists of shopping desires: 65 percent said they want the ability to return online purchases to stores; 61 percent said that they'd like to see in-store inventory online; 56 percent said they expect online and store prices to match; 41 percent said they should be able to order online for in-store pickup; and 39 percent said that they expect stores to ship out-of-stock items to their homes for free.

"In the eyes of the consumer, the downsides of buying from a U.S.-based retailer rather than a domestic Canadian retailer are diminishing," said Forrester analyst Peter Sheldon, who wrote the report. "Canadian retailers should be shaking in their boots, as this is their last wake-up call."

For more:

- See Internet Retailer story

Related stories:

Cross-Border Shopping: The View From Canada 
Staples Will Shrink 39 Canadian Stores 
Amazon Cross-Border Pricing Quirk Means Prices Jump Right After Customers Log In

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