Shipping and Returns Cause Headaches for Canadian Customers


Free shipping and free returns policies play a major role in the shopping habits of Canadians, according to a Forrester report, even if it means making purchases in the United States in search of the best deal.

According to The State of Canadian Retail – 2013, 68% of Canadians said high delivery costs was a primary concern when it comes to online shopping. Thirty-six percent of those same shoppers said their concern for the cost of shipping within the last six months has increased as well.

In fact, concerns for shipping costs, according to the report, are so high that Canadian online shoppers will sacrifice any loyalty to Canada-based retailers if they can find the same product cheaper at another international retailer.

If you’re looking to do additional business there, you shouldn’t solely rely on shipping cost to get your foot in the Canadian door. According to the report, cost, returns options, and store inventory also play a major role in capturing the Canadian consumer.  According to the report:

  • 65% said the ability to return products purchased online to a nearby store was “important or critical” to their purchase decision.
  • 61% cited the ability to view in store inventory online important when making their purchasing decision.
  • 56% expect stores to price-match online offers.
  • 41% expect to be able to pick up online orders in store.
  • 39% expect stores to ship out-of-stock products to their home for free.
  • 35% said prepaid postage for returns is crucial in making a purchase.

Leading major U.S. retailers have already staked a claim in Canada, according to the report, such as Nordstrom and Target and Canadian shoppers don’t seem to mind. “In the eyes of the consumer, the downsides of buying from a U.S.-based retailer rather than a domestic Canadian retailer are diminishing.”

The appeal of American or other international retailers to most Canadians, according to the report, is that have what most domestic retailers are lacking. But be warned, just because you offer free shipping or cheaper returns doesn’t mean customers will come out in droves.

While 68% of Canadians want free shipping, 26% of Canadian online shoppers say that they usually add more items to their cart to qualify for a free shipping offer, 20% delay their purchase until they need additional products to qualify for free shipping, and 11% said they will abandon their purchase all together to look for another site that offers a “no-strings attached” free shipping offer.