Canada is an incredibly vast landscape, with a population of 36.29 million, 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 Ontarian’s accounting for almost 40% of Canadians.
So, why is this important?
Well, because of its size and the way in which the population is distributed, Canada requires a unique approach to eCommerce.
Up until recently, Canadian businesses have been lagging behind other developed countries in adopting the necessary technologies required to keep up with the growing consumer appetite for purchasing goods and services online.
Thankfully, the country seems to have finally caught up, and it makes sense considering the size of the market.
Retailers no longer miss out on sales purely because of geography; even sellers in the most remote locations can tap into a technologically enabled audience.
Digital and mobile connections are highways that don’t need to be travelled overland, meaning every person with an internet connection is a potential customer – and both Canadian and global retailers are eager to convert.
With this in mind, we’re going to look at what makes Canada a lucrative prospect in eCommerce and explore the country’s most important online marketplaces that you should consider selling on.
Should I sell my products in Canada?
Given that there has been a recent surge in Canadian consumers shopping online, along with the fact that more and more retailers are investing in digital platforms to reach consumers in this market, Canada certainly offers vast opportunities for international growth.
Although adoption was initially slow, by 2015 84% of Canadians had bought something online and over 20% of Canadians shopped online every month.
It is also estimated that by 2019 there will be 20 million digital buyers in Canada, who will 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.
Perhaps more importantly, cross-border shopping is on the rise with 16% having purchased from Europe in the past year, highlighting the opportunity that this market has to offer.
Which Canadian marketplaces should you be selling on?
By registering as a seller with eBay and Amazon you can benefit from their huge market shares, ready-made audiences and easy-to-use stores.
But, of course, you already knew that, so we’re going to look at some of the other online marketplaces you should consider selling on in Canada.
Best Buy Canada
Best Buy is already a well-established and recognised brand, so by choosing to sell on their eCommerce platform you can take advantage of that ready-built brand loyalty and active customer base.
While the company remains the country’s largest electronics retailer, back in 2015 it expanded its offering by giving merchants the option to sell more than just electronics. As a seller, you can now list products in categories such furniture, toys, watches & jewellery and sports & recreation.
All in all, Best Buy’s marketplace gives you access to over 225 million visitors per year, with 18.5 million visitors every month to their Canadian domain.
This is easy to take advantage of thanks to Best Buy’s opportunities to highlight your product in its forums, blogs and newsletter (which has over 5 million subscribers).
Fees are competitive with other online marketplaces and there is no setup fee and no payment processing fees for sellers (these are covered by Best Buy). Sellers are also offered training during setup and also given ongoing tech support once they’re up and running.
It’s also worth noting that Best Buy offers API integration, so sellers can fully integrate products, pricing and inventory management.
Newegg is a diverse marketplace that has historically sold electronics, audio parts, sporting goods and more, with over 20 million annual customer visits and 65,000 unique visits daily.
More recently, however, the company has expanded its range of goods and now positions itself as an “all things” marketplace.
You do need to be approved as a seller on Newegg.ca before you can list your products on the site, and the marketplace does charge a commission, but this is fairly competitive at between 8% and 15% depending on the product – in fact, they claim it’s the lowest of any major online marketplace.
You can see the full list here.
Newegg also offers a wide variety of marketing opportunities to help increase your brand’s visibility through its email marketing and daily deal highlights.
Walmart has recently began accepting third-party sellers onto their online marketplace. As the world’s largest retailer, it’s absolutely worth listing on here if you can - Walmart Canada’s marketplace receives 8 million unique monthly visitors, which makes it a potentially lucrative sales channel.
While there are no setup or monthly fees, Walmart takes a referral fee from each sale (between 6% and 15% depending on the type of product sold).
Etsy is a global marketplace for unique and handmade goods. However, although the site still positions itself as the primary online marketplace for vintage and handcrafted goods, its definition of “handmade” has evolved over the last few years.
This means the site is much more lenient now and will allow users to sell items that are mass produced (to some extent), so it’s worth looking into - depending on what you sell, of course. As of 2017, close to 33.4 million buyers had purchased goods through the Etsy and the site currently sees 47 million visitors per month.
Seller fees for Canadians are as follows: CA$0.26 listing fee plus a 3.5 % transaction fee and a 3-4 % + CA$0.25 payment processing fee.
While these are some of the top online marketplaces in Canada, do keep in mind that Canadian consumers also shop on other global sites, including Fruugo and Tmall. You can view the full list here.
Tips for selling in the Canadian eCommerce market
Now that we’ve covered some of the key marketplaces worth selling on in this market, it’s also worth familiarising yourself with some of the key considerations, expectations and general best practices for selling in Canada.
Canada is a huge country and delivery speeds will be different for the various territories. With this in mind, don’t over-promise - be transparent when detailing your delivery times. Even if “2-8 days” looks worse than “2-3 days”, at least your customers can manage their expectations, that way they won’t be disappointed when their package arrives a week after ordering.
Although Canada is predominantly English speaking, 21% of the population speak French with 6.1 million French speakers residing in Quebec alone. It’s worth considering this when writing product descriptions and engaging with customers.
Additionally, you should check whether certain Canadian marketplaces have any requirements for providing content in French.
Stay on the right side of the law
Unfortunately, running a business - even simply selling goods on Amazon - can be a bit of a legal minefield: it’s easy to put a foot wrong without knowing. Two key things for Canadians to remember:
Extra-provincial registration - Canada is made up of multiple different territories, and you are required to register your business in territories outside of your own if you wish to sell there.
Consumer Protection Acts - Each province and territory has its own consumer protection act, so be wary of this when selling to someone in another province - find out if there are different requirements in that jurisdiction.
Understand tax requirements
There are three types of taxes in Canada, each of which you will need to be aware of. The two main ones are GST (Goods and Services Tax) and PST (Provincial Sales Tax), although certain provinces have combined these tax structures and created what is known as 'harmonized tax'.
You can learn more about each tax structure here.
Do your research
As with entering any new marketplace, it’s important to research consumer trends first. Make sure you’re educated on what goods to sell to the Canadian market before jumping in with no prior knowledge: think about seasonal offerings, general trends and territory-specific buyer habits.
Apparel (fashion) and accessories lead the way with online purchases in this country, followed by books, consumer electronics and toys, hobbies & games.
At the same time, assess how ready you are to enter another new market. Do you have an automated inventory management system to support your strategic move? If not, it's well worth exploring how this multi-channel eCommerce software can facilitate your global expansion.
Selling in Canada: A land of opportunity
Canada is ultimately a large country with a growing population of online shoppers, so it’s best to get involved now while the number of digital shoppers is on the rise.
Regardless of whether you’re currently selling internationally or looking at cross-border selling, we highly recommend that you take advantage of the multiple different sales channels out there in order to extend your reach and maximise business growth.
For a full list of global marketplaces across the globe, have a read of this.