Canadian commerce marketers want to improve the website experience, understand the importance of mobile commerce and explore one-click buying and social selling. Those are the key takeaways from the research we commissioned earlier this year.

Working with research firm Demand ROI, we surveyed e-commerce managers, directors and vice presidents at companies in Canada, the U.S., the UK and Australia with a minimum headcount of 200 employees. The survey was conducted via email in the spring of 2017 and we received a total of 409 responses, with 109 respondents from Canada. Of the Canadian respondents, 80% reported having both brick-and-mortar and online operations.

Online and ready for business

One of the top business priorities for Canadian retailers in 2017 is improving the website experience, which makes a lot of sense given the online landscape. According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the average Canadian spends 36.7 hours online recreationally each month—more than anywhere else in the world. The Canadian government considers access to high-speed internet a fundamental right and is working to provide it to 100% of its population. In that kind of environment, retailers are right to focus on creating opportunities to connect with consumers online. Each connection is a possibility to create a relationship with the consumer and, ultimately, establish brand loyalty.

Mobile’s critical role

The research suggests that Canadian retailers know that the mobile highway can bring more customers—and more sales. The majority of retailers we surveyed said mobile commerce is critical (49%) or important (41%) for the future of their brand. As retailers see an increase in mobile usage by consumers, they are starting to blend offline and online retail experiences with options like in-store Wi-Fi for online shopping and price comparisons and personalized in-store offers on mobile devices, two possibilities that they think will have a great impact on in-store sales.

So, how are Canadian retailers optimizing mobile strategy? Fifty-four per cent of the retailers we surveyed have a dedicated mobile strategy and make investments in the mobile experience—but only 47% are optimizing by phone versus tablet. The Canadian retailers who aren’t optimizing their mobile strategy should take note: 46% of those surveyed say that customers use their phones before, during and after a purchase. This could mean a missed opportunity for those who haven’t optimized their mobile strategy.

Exploring the possibilities

We asked Canadian retailers where they would focus if time or money weren’t issues. Their response: one-click buying and selling on emerging social channels. These goals make a lot of sense: We know Canadian retailers are already focused on improving the digital experience and 76% responded that social media is the marketing channel with the greatest impact on sales, since it creates opportunities for them to reach their customers—no matter where they are.

Hesitant to invest in data

One way to feel confident about adopting new marketing channels or enhancing existing ones is to use data to measure business outcomes and determine which techniques and tools to invest in next. When we asked Canadian retailers how they felt about their ability to leverage data for business decisions, only 53% feel that they are very effective.

So, what is holding them back from making better data-driven decisions? The overwhelming concern for Canadian retailers was the cost and complexity of data analysis tools: 50% named this as their number one concern. It may be that Canadian retailers perceive the cost of the tools as greater than their worth, or they may be waiting to see what happens for retailers in other markets

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. Is the investment worth it for them? Canadian retailers should bear in mind that investing in data analysis can pay off many times over by providing more information about consumer behaviors and helping them make better decisions about their businesses—which, in turn, can help drive sales.

A secure future of e-commerce success

While the to-do list might seem long (improve the website experience, explore mobile commerce, consider using data to drive decision making), Canadian retailers have a great market to work in. In many parts of the country, stores aren’t easy to get to, so exploring ways to bring the store to the shoppers is well worth the effort. Taking the time to figure out what works is a solid investment.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.


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Susan Wall

Susan Wall is vice president of marketing for Bronto Software.