How are Canadians shopping post-pandemic? What are the advantages of eCommerce over brick-and-mortar stores? And how are economic conditions such as inflation impacting Canadian spending? All these questions and more were answered in this year’s edition of the Reprise Commerce study – RETHINK ECOMMERCE: Staying Ahead of Canadian Shopping Behaviors.
The study surveyed 1,500 Canadians with a sample that reflects the diversity of Canada’s population and included respondents who shopped or intended to shop online. The findings were unpacked in a live broadcast webinar, hosted by Emmanuel Lafleur-Velasco, VP, Head of eCommerce, and featuring presentations from several eCommerce experts in the Canada team.
Analysis of the results suggests that in the post-pandemic era, new standards have emerged, and brands must meet the challenges of this new landscape to inspire and delight Canadian shoppers. Below are some key insights from the study.
Consumers prefer omnichannel experiences post-pandemic
While overall preference for in-store or online shopping is evenly split (35% prefer online, 34% prefer in-store, and 30% stated no difference), the factors driving these preferences showed notable differences. Brands and retailers should focus on optimizing the omnichannel journey by leveraging integrated technology to create purposeful touchpoints that cater to the unique preferences of their target audience.
Convenience remains the primary advantage for online shopping, with consumers citing no hours of operation (61%), home delivery (61%), and convenience (59%) as the top three advantages to shopping online. While barriers, including long shipping times and product selection, have been reduced, lack of human assistance is an increasing friction point for online shoppers (19% to 30% YOY). Sellers can leverage social commerce and AR/AI technology to strengthen connections with shoppers and address friction points quickly.
Online touchpoints key drivers of product discovery & research
Online ads and flyers are the most useful sources for product discovery. At the same time, 63% of shoppers use search and other online touchpoints as their first source for category and product research and over half of shoppers research online before making an in-store purchase. Brands and retailers should prioritize online tactics, including on-page content optimizations and investing in retargeting-only search campaigns to improve user engagement and avoid losing customers as they move from online to in-store.
Impact of inflation on spending habits
Despite rising prices, close to 40% of Canadians plan to maintain or increase spending on essential items (i.e., products within food, household cleaning products, and general toiletries), while 37% plan to seek less expensive products or brands. Shoppers are more likely to make online purchases during Q4 sales events, with 40% of their total spending done online during this key period (v. 29% at other times of the year). Marketers can maximize their media efforts by creating unique promotional strategies beyond deep discounting, such as personalized feed-based shopping ads that can increase conversion and drive relevancy at scale.
Proper inventory management is critical for customer loyalty
Despite inventory availability being the top factor impacting consumer satisfaction of retailers (37%), majority of shoppers still regularly encounter out-of-stock issues both online and in-store. Sellers must prioritize inventory management and accuracy, especially if their target audiences are within the younger (aged 18-34) or BIPOC demographic, who are less likely to stay brand loyal if their preferred item is out of stock.
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