How E-commerce Changed Canadian Retail

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

By Kate Hiscox

According to a 2015 study conducted by Accenture, consumers feel the in-store experience needs the most improving when it comes to retail. The retail experience has become fragmented over multiple channels with inconsistent pricing and experiences. From the same study, 30% of retailers indicated the seamless shopping experience needs the most improving – that is, the same experience when making purchases online, from a mobile phone, tablet, or in-store. Given that, more and more consumers are turning to online stores for their retail experiences. Brick and mortar stores simply cannot compete with e-commerce.

E-commerce has empowered the consumer with new experiences that need to be integrated into stores. In the past 10 years, one of the biggest changes to retailers is Amazon. Amazon has effectively changed consumer behaviour through intelligent recommendations, one-click checkout, rapid shipping, and an end-to-end experience that in-store simply cannot provide. Additionally, e-commerce allows busy consumers to do this from the comfort of their own home.

Retailers are faced with declining interest in brick and mortar stores and an uptake in e-commerce. Last year, electronics retailer Best Buy, felt the ramification of such and closed 131 of their Future Shop stores across Canada citing more and more consumers are taking the retail experience online. Similar results were announced in 2015 for other chains closing stores including RadioShack, Target, Gap, and many others. Brick and mortar stores are challenged to compete with online stores that provide a seamless and ubiquitous experience across multiple channels.

While the trend for retailers to take to online has been prevalent over the past years, many online retailers have subsequently gone from “clicks to bricks”. previously covered Frank & Oak opening physical stores across Canada, but clothing retailer Frank & Oak is not the only online store making a physical presence. Warby Parker and Clearly Contacts are two other examples of online retailers moving from clicks to bricks with their own stores across North America.

Retail is rapidly changing. E-commerce has acted as a disruptive technology into the retail space forcing retailers to consider how they acquire their customers. Subsequently, online stores are faced with the challenge of competing in both an online and offline space. As e-commerce and physical retailers find equilibrium between the two spaces, expect to continue to see more closures from physical retailers and more openings of physical stores from previously online exclusive brands.

About the Author

Kate Hiscox has over 15 years of experience working in e-commerce. Both of the e-commerce stores she founded had been acquired, with her first e-commerce acquired in 2006 for $1.2 million USD. Kate is one of five children; all entrepreneurs with their own company. She is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of Venzee, a rapidly growing SaaS platform based in Vancouver and accelerated by 500 Startups. Venzee replaces spreadsheets with real-time integration for SMB and enterprise customers in the retail industry.