When it comes to actually selling products through an online portal, there are things to know and misconceptions to be quashed. For insight on this critical component of building an eCommerce business, we asked Scott Leblanc (Director of User Experience at SHOP.CA) to share his advice and experience working at one of Canada’s biggest (and fastest growing) internet retail destinations.
To access the other sections of our coverage on this topic, please consult the index of the Dx3 Digest Guide to eCommerce in Canada.
1. What aspects of eCommerce is your company involved in?
SHOP.CA is Canada’s first online marketplace for retailers, branded manufacturers and distributors to list their products for sale on Canada’s biggest eCommerce site. Each supplier gets a branded eCommerce estore within the marketplace. SHOP.CA’s customers and members browse the storefront and are able to shop from a variety of different suppliers with one shopping cart. The site is 100% drop ship and provides suppliers with an additional online channel to sell their goods. SHOP.CA customers enjoy the largest product selection of any eCommerce site in Canada, with most items having free shipping and free returns up to 365 days after purchase. All members on SHOP.CA earn SHOP.CA Rewards with every purchase and can earn extra rewards as they share and engage socially with their family and friends on the site.
2. Why does your company see eCommerce as important to Canadian business in general?
We’re extremely bullish about the future of eCommerce in Canada. In fact, our mission is to once and for all provide Canadians with a level of service, product selection and online experience they have been missing here or have had to rely on from US-based retailers at the expensive of dealing with extra shipping costs and duty charges. Canadian businesses and retailers that do not make eCommerce a priority will not survive in the long run. Canadians are one of the highest per capita online spenders; yet today, more than two thirds of that money goes south of the border. Canadians have spoken clearly with their hard earned money and say they want the convenience of shopping from anywhere at anytime.
3. What are some common misconceptions many Canadian businesses have surrounding eCommerce?
Probably the biggest misconception is that it is too difficult to sell online and that as a large country, the logistics for selling online in Canada are prohibitive. We work with retailers large and small and can attest this is simply not true. There are great eCommerce solutions built right here in Canada for the SMBs like Shopify, turn-key full service vendors like Demac Media and enterprise class software from IBM, whose Websphere Commerce platform is built right here in Canada. From a logistics perspective, Canada Post, Hopewell Logistics, and both large and small courier companies have long ago resolved the complexities of managing delivery to Canadians. As for SHOP.CA, by working with us everyone from the smallest to largest retailers can easily create an online store in our marketplace.
4. How does your company help businesses get into eCommerce and/or improve their existing eCommerce endeavours?
SHOP.CA helps Canadian retailers, distributors and branded manufacturers increase their online sales by providing the ability to promote their items on the largest eCommerce destination in the country. For business new to eCommerce, SHOP.CA can be their first (and only, if desired) online storefront. We recently launched a storefront for a premium pet product retailer who has multiple bricks and mortar locations. They were planning on launching their own eCommerce storefront, but with the success they’ve had with SHOP.CA and the ease of use and low cost (there is no cost to list items), the retailer decided to abandon their e-Commerce project and just make SHOP.CA their primary online destination. They market the SHOP.CA/storename URL to their customers as their own website destination. In another example, a shoe distributor commented that within the first few days of having their merchandise available on SHOP.CA, we had become their largest online sales channel.
5. What would be the main piece of advice your company would offer to Canadian retailers trying to succeed at eCommerce?
First, make the customer the top priority. Create a great customer experience both on the site and have great customer service available by phone or email or social channels for customers that need assistance off the site. Second, be masters at SEO. Organic traffic is critical to the success of any online business. Third, adopt and embrace social media. Canadians are number two behind South Korea as the most active users of social media in the World. Social media must be engrained in your business culture and not an after thought. Finally mobile and multi-channel strategies must go hand in hand with the desktop. 20% of Black Friday sales in 2012 were from a mobile device. That number will become 50% in the next 5 years.
6. Extra Comments/Thoughts?
We’re excited to be part of Canada’s e-Commerce revolution. Canada has reached a tipping point for e-Commerce adoption, both by consumers and also by Canadian retailers and manufacturers. The next 5 years are going to see rapid progress in social media, mobile and e-Commerce. At SHOP.CA, we are excited about the amazing things we have under development. We will truly put Canada at the forefront of e-Commerce innovation.
For more eCommerce wisdom, check out the rest of the Dx3 Digest Guide to eCommerce in Canada.
Also, check out our previous coverage of SHOP.CA in our “Made in Canada Series“