What Motivates Canadians to Shop Online?
While U.S. brick and mortar stores are slowly entering Canada (J.Crew is said to be investigating the market), Canadians are still shopping online - both at Canadian and foreign retailers. They're shopping at stores that don't have a brick and mortar presence and of course, to get the best deals.
In fact, a 2010 study by the JC Williams Group revealed that more than 55 per cent of Canadians start their purchase on the Internet but finish the sale in an actual store. A quick poll revealed many reasons for that - lack of visual merchandizing, a lack of coherent sizing across various retailers and finally, the shipping costs.
If you've shopped online before, you know the surprise you feel when you click the check-out button. You know you have to deal with the exchange rate (if you're buying at a store outside of Canada) and the taxes - that's expected. Then you see the shipping costs and your hand hovers over the mouse as you ponder whether the item is worth paying sometimes ridiculous shipping costs.
Luke Knowles, founder of FreeShipping.ca, a site that aggregates free shipping information for Canadians, said, "Many Canadian retailers that don't have brick-and-mortar stores still charge for shipping because it's a great source of revenue. As online shopping in Canada grows and there is more competition, we'll start to see a lot more merchants turning towards free shipping as a way to attract customers. We've seen this happen in the United States over the past few years."
This is happening already, Chapters has dropped their minimum purchase for free shipping from $39 to $25 (Which is half the price of an average hardcover) and Future Shop has done the same.
Knowles said, "Free return shipping is a huge motivator to get people to shop for shoes and clothing online. Knowing that you can return an item at no charge if it's the wrong size is a big bonus. Additionally, a larger selection is also something that favors those who shop online. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, online stores are not limited in the amount of products & brands that they can sell. Most importantly, it is much easier to compare prices online for products that are sold at many different stores. The days of driving from store to store to find the lowest price are over."
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