Blueport is proud to have multiple Canadian retailers using Blueport’s Platform and Services. In my role as Ecommerce Director, I challenge myself to understand what trends are impacting our neighbor to the north.
The WBR Industry/Bronto Software Benchmark white paper, based on the 2014 eTail Canada Conference, lays out findings on how retailers leverage technology and marketing channels to drive awareness and revenue. Here are Blueport’s top three takeaways on how Canadian retailers are responding to the ever-evolving ecommerce ecosystem.
Takeaway #1: Canadian Ecommerce Is Taking Off, with Investments in Email, Search and Social Solutions as Keys to Further Growth
From 2013 to 2014, 69% of respondents saw ecommerce conversion rates rise and a 46% increase in average order value. This is a positive trend, even though 68% of the Canadian retailers surveyed reported online revenues of under $50 million annually and for most, ecommerce accounts for less than 15% of total revenue. In order to boost these numbers, Canadian retailers plan to turn to financial investments in email (79%), SEO (68%), and social engagement (56%) as their top priorities over the next 12 to 18 months.
Takeaway #2: Canadian Retailers’ Corporate Structures are Evolving to Enhance the Effectiveness of Ecommerce
The evolving hierarchy of a truly omnichannel Canadian retailer can clearly be seen in hires beyond the CMO level. 44% of Canadian retailers surveyed have a dedicated owner for ecommerce, with the title Vice President of Ecommerce. Additionally, when asked if their companies were hiring for their online divisions, 57% of companies surveyed replied yes. Top ecommerce positions to hire for included Email, SEO, Strategy and Marketing Analytics. These two points clearly illustrate the need to attract, hire and retain dedicated ecommerce talent within a retail organization looking to expand their online business.
Takeaway #3: Free Shipping Is Not a Universal Practice, But the Momentum Is There
Of the Canadian retailers surveyed, 53% offer free shipping and shockingly only 29% offer a free in-store pick-up option. However, 84% offered discounted shipping when a customer hit a certain threshold or value in their order. Much has been written about Canadian consumers’ online cart abandonment due to shipping costs, so Canadian retailers who want to get competitive need to figure out ways to offer free shipping, even if it means adding in costs elsewhere. Free shipping over a certain threshold and free in-store pick-up of online orders is something that Blueport has found to be a very strong competitive differentiator for our Canadian clients, so we’re proud they’re leading the charge in those consumer-centric categories.
So what to take away from all of this? It’s clear that Canadians, who spend more time online than people in any other country, are ready, willing and eager to shop online. Canadian retailers are just starting to spend more on digital marketing initiatives, hiring for dedicated ecommerce teams and actively working towards improving their shipping costs. We at Blueport Commerce will be looking to our northern neighbor as they continue to innovate and accelerate towards the ultimate state of omnichannel retail.