2015 will be a watershed year for retail in Canada. Intense competition from international players, consolidation, recent bankruptcies and a shift to ecommerce reflect a sector in transition. Omnichannel strategy, and ecommerce in particular, is where most retailers are turning to remain competitive and gain share, according to a new eMarketer report, “Canada Ecommerce 2015: Omnichannel Trends to Watch in Retail.”
After years of lagging other markets, ecommerce sales in Canada will near CA$30 billion ($27.17 billion) in 2015, a nearly 17% jump from 2014, eMarketer estimates.
Consumers in Canada rely heavily on their mobile devices throughout the whole purchase cycle for in-store and online purchases. Mobile is an essential shopping aid and increasingly the tool used to transact, but PCs still represent the largest share of ecommerce purchases.
In Mindshare’s “Mobile Mindreader Study,” published in October 2014, 4.7% of internet users had made a purchase via smartphone in the past month, while 5.9% had done so on a tablet. In particular, respondents ages 18 to 34 and females overall were more likely to use smartphones to transact. Mindshare found most of the mobile behavior related primarily to shopping and not buying: creating shopping lists for groceries, researching vehicle features in the car-shopping process and comparing financial institutions.
September 2014 research conducted by BrandSpark for App Promo and Tapped Mobile found that price comparison was the top mobile activity smartphone users in Canada planned to use their phones for during the holiday shopping season, cited by 61% of respondents. Taking pictures of products followed closely, cited by 60%, as well as researching product features (55%). Overall, about three-quarters of survey respondents indicated they would use mobile devices while shopping in-store: 79% of millennials ages 18 to 29, 77% of males ages 25 to 54, and 72% of mothers ages 25 to 54.
For consumers in Canada, using a mobile device remains secondary for transacting, especially when compared with other countries. In a May 2014 study by GfK, just 21% of internet users in Canada reported using a mobile device to make a purchase digitally or in-store in the past six months, well below the rate of consumers in Asia-Pacific (46%), Latin America (39%), the US (33%) and other regions.