Strategies and Successes From Canadian E-commerce Marketers: White Paper

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By Susan Wall

Canadian commerce marketers know their audiences – and the challenges and opportunities they present. Dispersed over a vast landscape, marked by small pockets of urbanization, the Canadian population requires a unique approach to e-commerce marketing. Canadian commerce marketers are up to the challenge, and they are increasingly meeting consumers where they are shopping: at home. Digital and mobile connections are highways that don’t need to be traveled overland. Every person with a connection is a possible customer – and Canadian retailers are eager to convert them.

We surveyed Canadian commerce marketers to learn more about their strategies, goals and what they’re excited about for the future. The key takeaways were that they want to improve the website experience, understand the importance of mobile commerce and explore, one-click buying and social selling. 

Working with research firm Demand ROI, we surveyed commerce managers, directors and vice presidents at companies in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia with a minimum headcount of 200 employees. The survey was conducted via email in the spring of 2017, and we received a total of 409 responses, with 109 respondents from Canada. Of the Canadian respondents, 80% reported having both brick-and-mortar and online operations. 

Connecting With Consumers

According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the average Canadian spends 36.7 hours online recreationally each month – more than anywhere else in the world. So it makes sense, given this online landscape, that one of the top business priorities for Canadian retailers in 2017 is to improve the website experience. The Canadian government considers access to high-speed internet a fundamental right, and 100% of the population will be connected in the future. It’s clear that retailers should focus on creating opportunities to connect with consumers online and utilize strategies that will build relationships and ultimately, establish brand loyalty. 

The Critical Role of Mobile

Canadian retailers know that the mobile highway can generate more customers – and more sales. Many retailers we surveyed said mobile commerce is critical (49%) or important (41%) for the future of their brand. How are retailers bringing mobile into the picture, based on this information? Retailers are beginning to blend offline and online retail experiences with options like in-store Wi-Fi for online shopping and price comparisons and personalized in-store offers on mobile devices as they see an increase in mobile usage by consumers, two options they think will have the greatest impact on in-store sales.

Canadian retailers are also working hard to optimize mobile strategy: Fifty-four percent of the retailers we surveyed have a dedicated mobile strategy and make investments in the mobile experience. But, when asked, only 47% are optimizing by phone vs. tablet. The Canadian retailers who aren’t optimizing their mobile strategy should take note: 46% of those surveyed say that customers use their phones before, during and after a purchase. This could mean a missed opportunity for those who haven’t optimized their mobile strategy.

Future Considerations

We asked Canadian retailers where they would focus if time or money weren’t issues. Their response: one-click buying and selling on emerging social channels. We know Canadian retailers are already focused on improving the digital experience, and 76% responded that social media is the marketing channel with the greatest impact on sales, since it creates opportunities for them to reach their customers – no matter where they are.

Reluctant Data Investors

When adopting new marketing channels, or enhancing existing ones, it’s helpful to use data to measure business outcomes and determine which techniques and tools to invest in next. But when we asked Canadian retailers how they felt about their ability to leverage data for business decisions, only 53% percent feel that they are very effective. 

So, what is holding them back from making better data-driven decisions? The overwhelming concern for Canadian retailers was the cost and complexity of data analysis tools: 50% named this as their No. 1 concern. It may be that Canadian retailers perceive the cost of the tools as greater than their worth, or they may be waiting to see what happens for retailers in other markets. Is the investment worth it for them? Canadian retailers should bear in mind that investing in data analysis can pay off many times over by providing more information about consumer behaviors and helping them make better decisions about their businesses – which, in turn, can help drive sales. 

Moving Toward E-commerce Success

While the to-do list might seem long (improve the website experience, explore mobile commerce, consider using data to drive decision-making), Canadian retailers are meeting the challenges of their unique market. In many parts of the country, stores aren’t easy to get to, so exploring ways to bring the store to the shoppers is well worth the effort. Taking the time to figure out what works is a solid investment, and advice that will serve Canadian retailers well as they continue to forge their path to e-commerce success.

To learn more read Bronto’s white paper, Inside the Minds of E-commerce Execs.

About Susan Wall

As Vice President of Marketing for Oracle + Bronto, Susan Wall is responsible for all marketing strategy and leading all lead generation, branding and positioning initiatives. She brings an extensive background in brand marketing, product marketing, marketing research, media and advertising to her role. 

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