Despite these positive trends in the e-commerce sector, Canadian businesses were relatively slow to shift towards e-commerce and invest in an online presence at first. This initial gap was utilized by major U.S. players who have made their mark on the Canadian internet landscape since. In 2018, Amazon was the most popular online platform in Canada, with an estimated e-commerce revenue of 3.5 billion U.S. dollars. The e-retail giant took the top spot in various product segments that year, including food and personal care, electronics, and media.
Some of the most popular online shopping categories in Canada include fashion, electronics, and books. When asked about their shopping behavior in a 2018 survey, many Canadian shoppers stated that they preferred online to in-person purchases because of the better product selection and the fact that they could save time and money virtually browsing through the offerings. In terms of expenditure, Canadian digital buyers primarily purchased high-end products from domestic retail sites that year, while turning to U.S.-based providers for lower-value orders. Some 17 percent of internet shoppers spent over 2,000 Canadian dollars on online goods and services, while for 25 percent of digital shoppers, the average annual digital expenditure did not surpass 500 dollars.
In terms of online payment, several interesting characteristics stand out in relation to the Canadian e-commerce market. According to a recent study, credit card has been the preferred payment method for online shopping for several years, despite various technological advancements in the field of online payment services and the proliferation of payment providers. This trend is indicative of some Canadians’ attitudes towards digital money transactions and their hesitance towards an adaptation of such services. In 2018, 18 percent of Canadian respondents admitted to feeling very uncomfortable making digital purchases. Older internet users are also less likely to store personal credit card information with a mobile app or e-commerce site, while younger mobile users generally show more interest and trust in technologies like mobile wallets.
Nevertheless, there is also a visible increase in the amount of Canadians who are happy to use more sophisticated and non-traditional payment methods. In 2019, 43.2 percent of Canadian smartphone owners reported using a mobile banking app, while another 20.4 percent conducted financial transactions via the PayPal app. Overall, Canadians are demonstrating an ever-increasing willingness to embrace the world of e-commerce, are becoming more receptive to new and innovative payment methods, and are growing more confident storing data and purchasing online. Whilst progress in Canada’s e-commerce industry has been somewhat slow, market forecasts suggest that the sector is set to grow significantly over the next few years. If more Canadian retailers and consumers begin to explore and utilize the benefits of e-commerce, these forecasts could come to fruition.