Canadian Retailers Yet To Catch Up With Online Shopping Trends

\"BusinessFor some reason, many Canadian retailers continue to inch very slowly towards accepting the fact that Canadian shoppers enjoy making purchases online. At least, this is what David Friend of The Canadian Press reports on A few weeks ago, he revealed that new data from Canada Post found that 76 percent of Canadian households shopped online in 2015. And about a quarter of those households have become “frequent” shoppers.

According to Friend, that means that a large number of Canadians are making purchases on the internet at least four to ten times a year. The way he sees it, if this trend continues, retailers who aren’t offering their products via online shopping stores will begin losing out heavily in their marketplaces. Evidently, Canada Post agrees, as their director of parcels and e-commerce market development, Danielle Doiron makes clear.

“Consumers are dipping their toe into e-commerce, testing the waters, and becoming very quickly converted,” she is quoted as saying, “And the type of products they\’re purchasing online has expanded.” Canada Post conducted their study by examining data compiled from both retailers who ship packages through the mail and customers who receive packages through the mail, Friend reports.

“Canada Post also found that shoppers will buy products online they wouldn\’t have just a few years ago, including toys and games, which saw shipments rise by 37 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same time a year earlier,” he continues, “One of the biggest hurdles for retailers has been how larger products are shipped to the homes of customers who want their purchases fast, but don\’t necessarily want to pay the elevated fees associated with expedited parcels.”

Friend points out, however, that the problems with shipping large items haven’t presented any major barriers in the online shopping world for brand name stores. Customers are still free to make their purchases online and accept the option of picking the items up in person. He notes that some retailers have parcel lockers inside their stores. Best Buy is cited as a brand that uses a recently-launched “ship-from-store” option.

“The feature is intended to breathe new life into its 192 stores across the country by making them tiny distribution centres,” Friend informs us, “When a customer can\’t find the item they want in the Best Buy website inventory, they will still have the option of getting it shipped from a store.” Best Buy Canada vice-president of e-commerce, Thierry Hay-Sabourin reveals that this option makes the company’s products “available to any customer at any time”.

Of note is the fact that Friend highlights Best Buy’s initiative as one that gives it a competitive advantage against popular e-commerce avenues like Amazon and eBay. Hay-Sabourin remarks that the ability that customers have to buy items online, but return them directly to the stores, if necessary, is a huge plus for consumers. Online shopping, he believes, actually helps for physical store locations to be more appealing to customers.

Friend writes that “Best Buy learned a lesson about online shopping when it closed a big box store in a B.C. neighbourhood, and found that shoppers migrated away from the Best Buy-branded website.” About 25 percent of the company’s online sales come from customers who live nearby a brick-and-mortar location of the store.

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