In early 2022, e-commerce retail trade sales amounted to around three billion Canadian dollars per month, and approximately 29 million Canadians were expected to purchase online by the end of the year. Revenue generated within the retail e-commerce market in the North American country is expected to surpass 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, nearly double the revenue in 2021.
A slow-grown e-commerce sectorDespite the rise of e-commerce, initially, Canadian businesses were relatively slow to shift towards digital sales and invest in online presence. This gap was utilized by major U.S. players to step in and establish their brands in the neighboring market. In 2021, the U.S. e-retail giant, Amazon, was the most popular online platform in Canada, with e-commerce net sales reaching over seven million U.S. dollars on amazon.ca. Amazon took the top spot in various product segments that year, including food and personal care, electronics, and media. Other U.S. companies such as Walmart, Costco, and Apple are also among the top online platforms in the country.
When asked about their shopping behavior in a 2021 survey, many Canadian shoppers preferred online to in-person purchases due to both the ease and convenience of online shopping as well as the ability to save money while buying online. These consumers still have high expectations though—most Canadian online shoppers consider shipping costs to be a deal maker or breaker when selecting an online retailer to buy from. Free returns were also well-sought after among shoppers. Canadian shoppers also hope to see more tech features implemented into the online shopping experience. For example, nearly eight in ten Canadian online shoppers want digital try-ons and virtual appointments from e-commerce platforms.
The Canadian way to payRegarding online payments, several interesting characteristics stand out. According to a recent study, credit cards were the favorite payment method for online shopping in Canada. The preference for paying with credit cards is nothing new, despite several technological advancements in the field of online payment services and the proliferation of digital payment providers in recent years. This trend is indicative of most Canadians’ hesitance towards adopting such services. However, there is still a visible increase in the number of Canadians who are happy to use more sophisticated and non-traditional payment methods. Partly spurred by increased online shopping since the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) and other services through digital wallets did not go unnoticed by Canadian shoppers. In 2021, digital and mobile wallets took eight percent of the market share of payment methods in the country.
Overall, Canadians are demonstrating an ever-increasing willingness to embrace the world of e-commerce, becoming more confident in online shopping and increasingly receptive to new and innovative payment methods, such as PayPal. While progress in Canada’s e-commerce industry initially had a slow start, new innovations and trends continue to make e-commerce more accessible, and market forecasts suggest that the sector is set to grow significantly in coming years. As more Canadian retailers and consumers explore and utilize the benefits of e-commerce, these forecasts are likely to come to fruition.