The great appetite of Canadian online shoppers for U.S. and international brands, coupled with the fact that retailers there aren’t meeting their needs, make the Great White North a popular market for online merchants, attendees were told at Multichannel Merchant’s recent Growing Global conference.
“Don’t underestimate the power of the brand voice in Canada,” said Fadi Brahimcha, president of ecommerce services firm WebJonction. “Our client Keurig has a strong brand in the U.S., and that influenced our entire web marketing strategy in Canada.”
In Multichannel Merchant’s MCM Outlook 2014 survey, Canada (84%) was listed as the top choice by survey respondents when asked what countries they sell into, followed by and Australia (54%), and Japan and New Zealand (39% each). Many American retailers and ecommerce experts refer to Canada as “the 51st state” because of its proximity and openness to U.S.-produced goods.
According to research from global card processing firm Payvision, 60% of Canada’s online shoppers buy from U.S.-based merchants, and 37% of the world’s cross-border power shoppers are Canadian. Also, eMarketer reports that 7 out of every 10 online purchases made in Canada are from merchants outside the country.
“The reason Canadians are shopping online in such large numbers is either because they can’t get it from domestic retailers, or because they can get a better price,” said Misko Kancko, director of international strategy for Canada Post, at Growing Global. “There’s a large flow of inbound goods.”
Kancko said the primary reason for shopping cart abandonment cited by Canadian consumers is failure to offer promotions or discounts (60%), followed by lack of a clear returns policy (34%). Free or discounted shipping is also a major driver. “Those who offer a free shipping option see a 69% lift in conversions,” he said.
Asked about the online shopping behavior of French-speaking Canadians, particularly residents of Quebec, Brahimcha said it’s similar to English-speaking residents but they are generally more price-conscious.
“They’re more passive social consumers, so you can’t count on them as much to be brand ambassadors as in other regions,” he said. “Localizing the product review is important.”