How much time do Canadians spend shopping online? Makes a storefront think about how to cope with this kind of competition.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 28, 2016



There isn’t a day of the week that you don’t hear about a scam of some sort that took place on-line. The crooks that do this to us are getting better at it – and our law enforcement people aren’t keeping up.

If you want to get a sense as to just how much the security people know about us – make a point of taking in the movie “Snowden”. Fascinating and frightening at the same time.


Where does the little guy fit into this graph?

The fact is we shop on-line. Just how often do we go on line to make purchases?

Look at the data set out above and below collected by Comscore – an organization that collects data on shopping patterns online.

Does this data mean the small retailer doesn’t have a chance?

Not necessarily – the creative marketer can make excellent use of the internet by offering superb service and being more than a colourless web site.  Online support makes all the difference in the world.  We heard of a Burlington retailer who sold a line of top of the line goose-down filled  coats.  She placed the order at a store she could walk into – they arranged for the  delivery of the coat to an address in Denmark.  The retailer didn’t have to cover the cost of inventory – the client got to purchase a gift locally and have it delivered half way around the world.

Furniture purchases are easily bought on line; the technology lets you look at the furniture from any number of angles.  If you are dealing with a local operation they can offer you a discounted price – if they want to keep you as a customer.

The advantage the local retailer has is you know them – you can walk into their store.  They have the connections to suppliers you need.

It can be made to work – it requires ingenuity and creativity.

online-shopping-graphicThe data tells us that Canadians are shopping on-line.

A colleague wanted to buy some underwear.  He knew the bran he favoured but couldn’t find it on the shelves of the department store he was in so bought a brand name he knew but not a specific product he had worn before.  He bought a package of six pairs of shorts.  They were terrible, the design was wrong – did work for his body.  Problem was he had opened the package and wasn’t interested in taking the time to return the purchase – and what was he going to do with the air he had tried on?  He washed the set of shorts he had worn and dropped the purchase off at a charity who will make sure the clothing gets to someone who can use it and went on line to order what he wanted in the first place form Amazon.

They will now remind him for the rest of his life that they can ship him another package of six any time he wishes.

What the public needs now is to be assured that internet purchases are safe – and once you’ve watch the “Snowden” film you will understand just how deep the security people can reach into your personal life.  Am I worried about how much they can know about me if they bother to look?  Having the information isn’t my concern – what I would be concerned about is how they use – or abuse that information.

It is the abuse we need to worry about.  Make the penalties for abuse strong enough and it will come to an end.  Some nerd with brains galore will think more than twice about spending a full five years of their lives in prison with nothing to do but sew mail bags and never even see a computer screen.  The technology that exists is mind boggling – put it to a positive use.

Did you know that Apple has a technology that will prevent you from using your cell phone to text while you are driving?  They don’t want to invoke it because they fear losing customers.

Isn’t capitalism great!



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3 comments to How much time do Canadians spend shopping online? Makes a storefront think about how to cope with this kind of competition.

  • astheworldturns

    I agree. Take Cleo for example (womens’ clothing). Their sales staff admit to never visiting the online site and so they have no idea of the New Arrival items available to their customers that are online 4-5 days before being shipped to the stores and also there are often 2-3 web exclusive items. They should be aware of these as well…instead of “I donno”. Would make them seem a little smarter, on the ball and representing the company as a whole if they knew the merchandise.

  • Stephen White

    There will always be a place for storefront retail operations. Unfortunately, what is sadly lacking in many establishments is knowledgeable and informed sales staff who are familiar with the products, take the time to get to know their customers’ preferences, and can make sensible and well-informed recommendations on purchases. The problems with many retailers is their management who hire the wrong people, don’t make a significant investment in sales training, and who aren’t genuinely interested in servicing their clientele.

    Fortunately, there are still some retailers around like Lee Valley, Home Hardware and one or two others who actually make shopping a pleasurable experience.

  • Steve

    A trend I’m increasingly seeing is when you are shopping online, at say a large retailer. looking to see what is available at their store, you will be met with lots of items that are not in the store, physically, but sold by them online. They offer one or two examples in the store, and many more online.