Canadians embrace cross-border e-commerce as homegrown shops fall behind: report

Canadian retailers who have delayed launching a robust e-commerce website are running out of time and face “their last wake-up call,” suggests a new report on the state of online shopping in Canada.

TORONTO — Canadian retailers who have delayed launching a robust e-commerce website are running out of time and face “their last wake-up call,” suggests a new report on the state of online shopping in Canada.

The report by the U.S.-based Forrester Research, funded in part by Canada Post and Shop.ca, is based on surveys with 1,103 Canadian online shoppers and concludes that U.S. e-tailers are becoming better positioned to steal web revenues from homegrown companies.

“In the eyes of the consumer, the downsides of buying from a U.S.-based retailer rather than a domestic Canadian retailer are diminishing. Canadian retailers should be shaking in their boots,” states the report.

“Canadian online shoppers will sacrifice any loyalty to Canada-domiciled retailers if they can find the same product cheaper online at an online marketplace or via a U.S. or international retailer.”

According to Forrester, about 25 per cent of online spending by Canadians already goes through international websites.

And the data suggests Canadian shoppers are growing increasingly comfortable with cross-border buying.

About 68 per cent of the online shoppers surveyed said they have shopped at a web store based outside Canada.

Of those, 72 per cent said it was because they couldn’t find what they were looking for from a Canadian e-tailer, and 59 per cent said cheaper prices contributed to their decision to buy abroad.

While it’s not always ideal to get purchases shipped from outside the country due to issues like customs and sometimes-high delivery fees, many shoppers would still rather deal with those headaches than stick with Canadian web stores.

A third of the shoppers surveyed said they were willing to buy through non-Canadian sites even though they knew they could potentially get hit with an additional bill for duties.

Another 17 per cent said they would deal with the hassle of having purchases shipped to a friend or colleague in the U.S., or use a cross-border postal box service to take advantage of better deals available outside Canada.

When they did shop with Canadian e-stores, the biggest complaint from shoppers was shipping prices. About 68 per cent of those polled typically found them too high.

About 65 per cent said they wanted the option of returning products in-store rather than shipping them back, 56 per cent wanted e-tailers to match lower prices offered by competitors, and 48 per cent wanted to be able to pick up purchases in-store.

Darren Meister, an associate professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business, said businesses that think they can simply buy a web e-commerce platform and instantly catch up to the competition are mistaken.

“I think some people will think, ’Well, when (e-commerce) is really popular we can just go out and buy it,’ but buying the technology is just the starting point, you still have to put into place the return policies, the delivery policies,” said Meister.

“The technology can’t be implemented overnight. And at a certain point in time you’ll fall so far behind that you’ll never catch up, (the competition) will be growing faster than you can catch up.”

The survey results are considered accurate within 2.95 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels allowed four straight goals from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night on the road. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers hand Red Deer Rebels 10th straight loss

Tigers 4 Rebels 2 Through 17 games in the shortened WHL season,… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Most Read