Moving Ecommerce to the Great White North

Canadian eCommerce growth was recently flat but still has an attractive upside…

Recent studies found that Canadian retail e-commerce growth was flat year over year (2003-2004). After further examination however, approximately 60% of the 100 largest non-travel sites succeeded in growing their sales over 20%.

Also interesting is the trending of Canadians from buying at non-Canadian sites to domestic sites (63% domestic, 37% foreign). This “domestic shift” clearly benefits the launching of a new eCommerce business in Canada.

The sales opportunity lies with the “early adopters”, individuals primarily the 18-34 year old age range. This segment is more technologically savvy and more likely to purchase online. In a 2003 to 2004 sampling comparison, this segment’s overall e-commerce spending increased 44%. The 35 to 54 age group increased only 5% and 55+ increased 18% (includes online travel).

Overall Internet Adoption rates still trail the U.S. and come in at approximately 52%. However, with the development of new Internet infrastructures and the maturation of Canadian ISP’s, this number will likely rise in the next 3-5 years. The following quote from the Canadian government re-enforces this theme.

“To reach our new national goal (relating to e-commerce) Canadians will need to develop strategies that build an intelligent infrastructure to serve as the backbone of the e-economy- by encouraging investment, strengthening research, enhancing commercialization and ensuring that all Canadians have access to this infrastructure and know how to use it.” (September, 2004)

Shifting demographics & lack of online competition equal a substantial opportunity…

Forrester Research reports that 48% of Canadian web shoppers are now female compared to 39% in 2003. 74% of web buyers are married and likely are home shoppers, compared to 68% in 2003.

With the gender gap closing, online home retailers have a great opportunity to target their core customer segment: the 30-40yr old female who owns or maintains a residence.

Within this sector, it is rare for U.S. based retailers to have online Canadian stores. Many brands will ship to Canada, for very high costs (customs duty & shipping) but this likely leads to an unpleasant experience for the Canadian consumer. These high costs, compiled with a lack of domestic Canadian retailers providing an e-commerce offering, are driving the stagnant growth of the online sales channel.

By being a “first-mover” in establishing a presence in the online marketplace within Canada, online retailers will facilitate sales from consumers that want to get products shipped from their native homeland after being paid for in Canadian currency.

Similar to the U.S., consumers are exhibiting multi-channel tendencies and embracing the emergence of broadband connectivity…

Canada is the only country in the world in which broadband overtook dial-up access in 2003. Currently 48% of all Canadian consumers have broadband access and they are 67% more likely to have high speed web-access than American consumers.

This impressive penetration may prove to be a strong driver for online circulars and new online merchandising tactics, as product differentiation are established outside of price.

Canadian shoppers are also parallel to U.S. consumers in their multi-channel behavior. 58% of Canadian shoppers have researched a product online and purchased offline, spending an average of $440. An online Canadian strategy must focus on integrating the online and physical store with store locator functionality and other tools to promote cross-channel behavior.

In conclusion, multi-national retailers should closely examine the Canadian eCommerce opportunity. Attractive consumer demographics, an established broadband infrastructure, and a shift in overall shopping tendencies make the Canada a high-growth and un-saturated area for multi-channel retail.

Practical Tips for a Successful Online Christmas

While Royal Mail begins the process of recruiting an additional 18,000 temporary staff to cover shifts throughout December we look at how online retailing is shaping up for its busiest shopping period of the year, and offer online retailers with some practical tips aimed at maximising their online sales, and benefitting from the surge in seasonal traffic.

Despite the UK moving towards its second ‘austerity’ Christmas where consumers will be balancing the wish to celebrate and splash out with the constraints of squeezed incomes, Christmas 2012 is still expected to be another record breaking year for the online shopping industry.

Driven by recent improvements in the provision of super fast broadband throughout the UK, as well as mobile firmly cementing itself as a tangible shopping channel for retailers, we’re set to see ecommerce yet again increase its influence upon the fortunes of Britain’s retailers.

Demonstrating the need for retailers to provide their customers with the opportunity to shop when, where and how they want to, we offer existing online retailers, and potential newcomers a handful of practical tips on how they can ensure their websites work hard to convert Christmas visitors into Christmas shoppers.

Communicate your shipping deadlines

Let customers know when the last day they can order is, to guarantee delivery for Christmas, and whether you offer an express delivery service. If relevant, this information ought to be shown for local, national and international customers. Ensure these details are clearly displayed on your website, newsletters and any other ways that you communicate with your customers. This will not just help to increase your sales, but also limit any potential fallout following the Christmas period due to any late deliveries. Begin telling customers right away!

Offer Seasonal discounts and offers

Run seasonal offers, discounts and promotions, perhaps attract new customers by way of voucher codes. Target your customer database with specific offers ‘only available to existing customers’, perhaps even pre-sale offers. Ensure that you promote your offers and sales before they happen so that customers know when to look forward to them.

Ensure that stock levels are kept up to date

Make sure that if you’re driving traffic to your website that you have plenty of stock, particularly of your best sellers. Avoid displaying any ‘out of stock’ tickets on products throughout the run up to Christmas, so that you benefit fully from the increase in seasonal traffic.

Maximise your basket values

Ensure that your key products are complimented by associated and related products, perhaps accessories if relevant. This will help to maximise your basket values and increase your overall revenue.

Don’t hide your best sellers

Make good use of your best sellers by making sure they take pride of place within featured areas of your website including ‘best sellers’, ‘featured products’ and ‘recommended items’, not to mention displaying them on your home page. Compliment these products with related and alternative items in a bid to use their pull to increase the sales of similar products, perhaps own branded versions.

Free delivery

Free delivery still remains as persuasive as ever with online shoppers. Where you can, try and offer this as an option on your ecommerce websites, perhaps ‘free delivery over £50’ or similar. If you can offer free delivery, don’t hide the fact, ensure that’s a clear call to action and used within your seasonal marketing activities.

Continuity through marketing

Ensure that all of your marketing, both online and offline reflects your Christmas offers and promotions. Update your website banners to reflect the festive period and utilise your existing customers through targeted email marketing. Make use of paid search engine marketing to help supercharge your online visibility, and spread the festive message within your social media profiles.

WorldWide Shopping Online is a Growing Billion Dollar Trend!

With online shopping becoming a billion-dollar market in Britain, analysts say that stores will be forced to change their business models to adapt.

Online shopping is poised to take 20p out of every UK consumer pound by the end of the year, a landmark milestone that analysts believe will make the channel a critical business for many high-street retailers. Although online shopping growth actually fell in June (the first time it has done so since 2005), the report predicts the economic downturn will encourage more consumer spend to go online, as shoppers hunt for bargains. Also, with the price of fuel at such all time highs,you have to count the cost of the shopping expedition
as well as the prices of merchandise.

In CMR’s latest thought leader position for Forbes, we show that e-commerce is actually booming in China, driven by changing demographic demands, especially from Chinese youth. It is critical that companies begin to look at how to use the internet to drive sales. Not only should companies utilize the internet for marketing purposes, but they should look at it as a critical sales channel to Chinese youth who are increasingly turning to the internet to buy not just cheap items like books and DVDs but more complex and expensive products like electronics, luxury items, and clothes.

This week, comScore Networks released the first in its latest series of studies geared at examining the online shopping activity of European citizens throughout the holiday season.

The initial data shows that French retail sites experienced the largest gains in the first three weeks of the holiday seasons, highlighted by a 79 percent increase in online shopping traffic for the week ending November 26th versus the pre-holiday average.

“While cyber shopping visits rose most quickly in Germany during the first week of the holiday shopping season, online shoppers in France have since become more active,” said Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe.

“These gains show that consumers armed with high-speed access and positive online retail experiences are increasingly comfortable shopping online.”

Ivins continues, “As online spending continues to grow and account for a larger percentage of total consumer spending, the growth in online shopping could be the difference between a good Christmas and a great Christmas for many online retailers.”

Metrical analysis of the United States and Europe show trends of increased spending in online retail from last year, and the rate of transition from traditional to online shopping isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The larger question, however, lies in what all these numbers actually mean? How do you gauge these metrics to gain insight into actual user behavior rather than just dollars spent online?

Why are shoppers spending more time online rather than in traditional retail marketplaces? Is it just a matter of price, or does product availability and comfort factor into the equation as well?

If marketers are truly serious about gearing their advertising campaigns in contextually relevant ways, it will be important to ask the “why” question more and more in response to studies like this which reflect statistics, but give little insight into gauging consumer intent.

It depends on how far one lives from the store as well as the mode of transportation used. While it is hard to beat the greenness of walking across the street to your neighborhood grocery COOP and bringing your own containers for bulk purchases and canvas bags for the short walk back home, not everyone is fortunate enough to live in such close proximity to the marketplace. Not everyone even desires to live centrally.

Living in the country, a family on Wasted was addicted to online shopping. Wasteful? Yes, however, if it weren’t for the internet, they would probably still be addicted to shopping. The difference is that they would have to drive their gas guzzlers into the city to get their fix.

The US Postal Service, along with shipping giants such as Fed Ex and UPS are making the rounds anyway, driving close to most American households everyday, if not right past it. Even in the country. These services are like well-organized carpools for goods.