Canadian Online Holiday Shopping Exceeded Preseason Predictions
Friday, January 31, 2014
The inaugural Canadian E-Tail report from J.C. Williams Group found that Canadian online buyers spent an average of $746 during the 2013 holiday season, compared to the $382 of offline shoppers. About a third of this online shopping was from offshore retailers, a trend that might be halted by the depreciating Canadian dollar (Bouw, 2014).
This beat the pre-season predictions by far. Canadians told Visa's Holiday eCommerce pollsters that they would spend only 33 per cent of their holiday budgets online (Johnson, 2014).
An Accenture holiday shopping survey might explain why so many Canadians now turn to online shopping. The majority say they want to buy for the best price, and that technology helps them to achieve this. 63 per cent of them said that they showroomed, which involves checking out products in stores and buying them online for the best price (Accenture, 2013).
Another explanation is that more online stores give free shipping deals over the holiday period. Forrester Research has found that up to 68 per cent of Canadians see shipping costs as a major determining factor when they buy online (SINS Canadian CPG, 2014).
This should not depress brick-and-mortar establishments, however. The best approach is still to have both a physical and virtual retail presence. This maximizes one's chance to catch shoppers both in one's region and from all over the world. Even smaller shops can do this by, for example, selling their products through Amazon, EBay or any other large online market.
Relative to a physical shop, a website is cheap to maintain, so the profit from online sales may progressively start paying the cost of the offline establishment. Only 26 per cent of Canadians told the Accenture survey that they spent at least half of their shopping money online, so there is still an enormous amount of offline shopping around. Moreover, almost 75 per cent of respondents told Accenture that they webroomed, which involves the researching of products online which they end up buying at a brick-and-mortar store.
Shoppers want discounts, and they seem indifferent about whether they get this through online or offline shopping. As long as consumers spend, there is thus a lot of hope for both online and offline establishments that can offer that.