The Canadian ecommerce opportunity is waiting for you

by
September 10, 2019

When you’re working on building the right audience for your e-commerce business, targeting Canadians might not be on your to-do list. After all, there are plenty of potential customers to attract at home. But Canadians are savvy online shoppers who love to buy from U.S. retailers. What’s more, 90% of the country lives within 100 miles of the US border. They could be the key to unprecedented growth for your business.

From 2016 to 2018, the number of Canadian online shoppers buying from the U.S. shot up by an astonishing 44 percent.[1] That trend is poised to continue. In fact, ecommerce sales in Canada are anticipated to grow by 87 percent between 2018 and 2022.[2]  For U.S. online retailers, that means that your friendly neighbour (we spell it with a “u”) to the north is worth a good hard look.

What Canadians are buying

The products that Canadians buy from U.S. retailers is rather similar to what they buy domestically. Products from categories like computers and electronics, apparel, books, and cosmetics are some of the most popular among Canadians shopping online.

The average cart size for Canadian online shoppers has exploded since 2016 with an astounding 70 percent increase, leaving the average spend at approximately $157 in 2018.[3]

What Canadian online shoppers expect from U.S. retailers 

Canada’s ecommerce ecosystem has matured and evolved over the years, and so have the needs and desires of Canadian online shoppers. They’ve come to expect a smooth and easy delivery experience. If you want to meet or exceed their expectations, you should focus on:

Providing choice, convenience, and control

Canadians want to have more control over the delivery experience to ensure that they receive their orders in a timely and efficient manner. Retailers that provide pickup options make it easy and more convenient for their customers to retrieve orders. Ensure that you offer key information on delivery dates upfront, prior to checkout. This gives customers the sense of control they desire. Your business stands to benefit from these tactics—employing them can increase sales, minimize the need for ongoing customer service and lower operational costs.

Offering reasonable shipping fees and faster delivery

For the most part, Canadians understand that items crossing the border can take a little longer to arrive. Luckily for retailers like you, many of them are willing to wait. That said, their demands for . They’re not willing to wait longer than they did three years ago. Ensure that you are upfront and transparent with Canadian customers about the services, fees and features that you offer. This will help you manage their expectations and will help you maximize cart conversion.

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Displaying all-in pricing in Canadian currency

Nobody likes unexpected fees. Giving your Canadian customers an unpleasant surprise fee may lead to cart abandonment or abandonment of your e-store altogether. Make sure that Canadian shoppers are aware of any duties, import taxes, and brokerage fees before they click the “buy” button. It’s also critical to be clear about whether your prices are in U.S. or Canadian dollars.

Enabling package tracking on shipments

Canadians want to be able to track their packages. Some simply feel annoyed when they can’t, while others will choose to avoid a retailer altogether over it. Be sure to integrate real-time parcel tracking for increased visibility, alert customers with notifications on delivery, and optimize your operations by working closely with your cross-border partners. This will allow you to compete on a more even playing field with Canadian retailers that are already offering the same services.

For U.S. merchants who want to expand their customer base, Canada is a land of ecommerce opportunity that offers a wealth of possibilities. If your business is ready to Go North, offer Canadian shoppers an ideal delivery experience and they’ll be your next, best customers.

Download Canada Post’s ebook “Tap into the Canadian business opportunity” to understand best practices for breaking into the Canadian ecommerce market.

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This blog was contributed by our partner Canada Post

[1] 2018 Canadian Online Shopper Survey. 18-200, April 2018.
[2] eMarketer, December 2018.
[3] 2018 Canadian Online Shopper Survey. 18-200, April 2018.