According to the latest Factbook from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)1, small businesses in Canada are lagging significantly in terms of their online presence. Indeed, only 41% of Canadian small businesses have a website, when 74% of consumers are searching online before purchasing products or services. Over the years, Internet has become consumers’ go-to tool for viewing and comparing products.
Regrettably for local businesses, two thirds of the money Canadians spend online goes to American websites. This gap could certainly be lessened if Canadian SMBs invested more systematically in efficient websites as well as in e-commerce infrastructure. The market awaits: 87% of Canadians say they think its important for a website to have a “.ca” domain, and that they prefer “.ca” websites over “.com” websites.
At the end of 2013, the Centre facilitating research and innovation in organizations with information and communication technology (CEFRIO) revealed comparable figures in its Indice du commerce électronique au Québec (ICEQ) [Index of e-commerce in Quebec]. As indicated in a recent report, only 28% of online purchases made by Quebecers are done on Quebec sites. These figures can be easily explained by the fact that seven out of eight Quebec companies do not offer the option to purchase online.
Canadians are World Champions when it comes to pages consulted each month
The demand, however, is out there. Internet users in Quebec and Canada are highly present and active online. According to Byron Holland, CEO of CIRA, the annual Factbook reveals “Canadians stand out from the rest of the world in their methods of and reasons for using the internet.”
Canadians are the world leaders in terms of Internet page views, coming in at 3,731 per month. They trail just behind Americans, who occupy second place worldwide, for time spent online every month–another testament to the importance of the internet and of the habits Canadians have developed for shopping online, including researching and comparing products.
Means for developing an online presence abound. There are a number of e-commerce tools available which already offer key solutions for Canadian businesses.
For example, the popular platform WordPress, which is used to create blogs and websites, allows users to add modules including catalogue models and virtual shopping carts, as well as links to different online payment options, like PayPal.
Can our businesses dare to be as present online? Why not seize the opportunity to stand out from the competition and be available for customers? To quote Wayne Gretzky, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
1) CIRA: Canadian small business lagging in online presence: Internet Factbook
2) CEFRIO: Indice du commerce électronique [Index of e-commerce]