Canada's Biggest Retailers Are Losing Out Online

72 percent of Canadians buy from non-Canadian e-commerce sites because they can't find the products they're looking for domestically.
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Eliza Brooke
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72 percent of Canadians buy from non-Canadian e-commerce sites because they can't find the products they're looking for domestically.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Oh, Canada. Land of Lululemon, Aubrey Graham and... not shopping online from your own country's stores. According to new stats released from digital research firm L2, 68 percent of Canadians are online shopping from internationally headquartered retailers.

That's four out of every ten dollars spent by Canadians online going to markets not their own. And here's the kicker: They're doing it despite having to fork over higher shipping and import fees and slower delivery. According to L2, this is due to a "subpar shopping experience, coupled with limited product assortment and weak direct-to-consumer infrastructure from domestic players."

The problem? Canadians can find the products they want in stores, but not online, meaning Canadian retailers aren't using omnichannel retail systems -- a coordinated inventory and distribution effort between online and offline -- as effectively as they could be. Seventy-two percent of Canadians who have made international e-commerce purchases do so because they can't find the product they want on domestic e-commerce sites. Stateside, that thought is basically unfathomable.

This hunger for product assortment would explain why Amazon.ca, the online mega-retailer's Canadian site, has seen exponential growth in its market share since it introduced 14 new product stores and Amazon Prime in 2013. According to L2 numbers, Amazon has surged past competitors like Walmart and Sears.

Omnichannel is something of a buzzword when it comes to the retail landscape right now, but it can have real benefits for retailers. Canada is a pretty solid case study in why.