Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Other Date: November 2019

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: An estimated 10% of all Canadian retail spending took place online in 2019, up from 6% in 2014.

Canada is an incredibly vast landscape, with a population of more than over 37.5 million people, concentrated mostly in four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. In fact, 86% of Canadians live in one of these four provinces, with 12.7 million Ontarians accounting for almost 40% of Canadians.

Given that there has been a recent surge in Canadian consumers shopping online, and considering that more and more retailers are investing in digital platforms to reach consumers in this market, Canada certainly offers vast opportunities for international growth. It is also estimated that the Canada market has more than 20 million digital buyers as of 2019, and these shoppers spend $50 billion online annually. In fact, Forrester Research Inc. predicts that 10% of all Canadian retail spending in 2019 will be conducted online, up from 6% in 2014, as the country’s buyers continue to go online for many of their shopping needs.

The 2018 Online Marketplaces Report by Internet Retailer cites a UPS study that found 96% of online shoppers in Canada have made an online marketplace purchase. As far as online marketplaces go, eBay and Amazon dominate in most countries (Canada included). Selling on these platforms brings the benefit of their huge market shares, ready-made audiences and easy-to-use stores. There are multiple other online marketplaces to consider selling on in Canada, such as Best Buy Marketplace, which gives access to over 225 million visitors per year, with 18.5 million visitors every month to its Canadian domain; Newegg, a diverse marketplace that has historically sold electronics, audio parts, sporting goods and more; and Walmart Canada, whose marketplace receives 8 million unique monthly visitors, making it a potentially lucrative sales channel. Two others to consider are eCrater or Etsy, an international online marketplace for crafts and craft supplies. The structure for each platform varies, but the standard offering is a place to sell online where the traffic is high and the marketing is done for you. The larger marketplaces like have millions of visitors every year, which can boost revenue and contribute to brand building, as well as allowing for testing strategies in the Canadian online retail market.

E-commerce platform Shopify announced plans to build and operate a warehouse and fulfillment network in the U.S. that would allow two-day shipping capabilities. While no plans have been announced for Canada, the network could foreseeably extend to merchants there as well. Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw Companies, also announced its plans to launch an online marketplace, looking to compete with Amazon and Walmart in the home delivery of a multitude of products.

Canadian marketplaces each have their own customer base, rules and policies, commission fees and customer expectations. Currently, Canada doesn’t have as many online marketplace options as other countries, but that is improving as international businesses realize the profit potential of the market. An example of spinoff-type companies that support the third-party platform area is a Canadian company, which is an alternative shipping solution for small companies in Canada that reduces shipping costs by as much as 74% and also ships to the U.S. and other international markets.