Cyber Monday sales will top $2 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, but Canadian company are likely to take home a tiny slice of the Thanksgiving e-commerce pie. Most of the country’s retailers aren’t doing enough to attract consumers’ online shopping.
“We’re not bad, we’re terrible!” says Retail Prophet founder Doug Stephens. “Amazon is selling four times what their competition combined in Canada does online. That in itself is enough motivation to get Canadian retailers to recognize that they’re asleep at the wheel and they need to get into this game.”
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Canada has become an unlikely hub for the development of e-commerce platforms, with market leader Shopify, big-brand focused Elastic Path and small storefront ShopLocket all coming out of this country’s tech sector. Unlikely, because e-commerce makes up only 3% of total retail economy spending in Canada.
Elastic Path CEO Harry Chemko says the paucity of online shopping options may be driving Canadians to build new platforms that facilitate it. “Part of me thinks that its because Canadian entrepreneurs get frustrated because our e-commerce experiences aren’t as good as they are south of the border,” he says.
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Chemko points to a troubling phenomenon for Canadian retailers: some two-thirds of Canadian consumers who shop online make their purchases from U.S. websites. That’s a lot of money leaving the country because it has nowhere to go within it.
There are Canadian e-commerce success stories. Innovative entrepreneurs like ClearlyContacts founder Roger Hardy are re-entering the field with new ventures, new ideas like Vatché Pirjanian’s Pochetti are seeing significant pickup, and Frank and Oak remains one of the country’s most exciting brands. But those few examples aren’t enough to adequately service a population hungry for the convenience and value of online shopping.
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Here’s the scope of Canada’s e-commerce problem, in one infographic:
Source: Canadian Internet Registration Authority/comScore; Internet Association; Accenture; Google Canada; McKinsey