There is no denying the incredible impact the pandemic has had globally, and the long-lasting effects it will carry on the behaviours and habits of consumers all around the world for many years to come.
2020 has been a roller coaster of a year, with one of the most significant changes occurring within the retail industry.
With the pandemic requiring small-businesses to shift their approach to how they sell, we have seen an exponential rise in the popularity of online shopping with the Canadian consumer.
Previous to this year, eCommerce has always been steady on the rise, but the growth wasn’t rapid since people had yet to adapt to its full potential, this is especially true with the older generation who hesitated to shop online. However, this year the eCommerce industry exploded, increasing the number of sales by 110%, according to Statistics Canada.
And even though the markets are slowly beginning to stabilize, trends show that eCommerce will forever be changed post-pandemic, and we can expect to see a continued rise of popularity and market share for the online retail industry.
A free market to explore
One big factor in this is thanks to the new NAFTA, coined CUSMA (Canada- United-States-Mexico-Agreement), looking to modernize the 25-year-old previous agreement to bring further prosperity and growth to Canada, United States, and Mexico. This agreement led to a free market, better manufacturing, and economic growth in North America, which in turn helped only the reach of eCommerce businesses and their potential.
Of course, with the expanding eCommerce market, comes a more international audience, and packages still need to get delivered in a timely and efficient way. This sudden influx of online shopping bottlenecked the shipping and fulfillment industry, with local carriers struggling to meet the rising demand for “convenient” delivery.
Many eCommerce businesses started to seek alternative shipping solutions to get their products to the doors of the customers in a quick, cheap, and simple way, and with the emergence of a wider audience, cross-border shipping has now become a necessity for every Canadian business, established or new.
Meeting the “new normal” customer expectations
Customer expectations, although slightly softened due to the pandemic, are still high, with customers being accustomed to the luxury of on-demand and convenience-based services. They continue to expect quick delivery, ease of tracking, and a simple return policy, and businesses not investing in these areas of the customer journey will get overtaken by those businesses putting the customer experience first.
This is why technological innovation and integration have become crucial for the success of any eCommerce business as it provides the oil to keep the connected supply-chain operating smoothly — from supplier to warehouse, to manufacturing, to fulfillment, and finally to the customer.
The changing face of the Canadian supply-chain industry
This emergence of new tech has reshaped the shipping and fulfillment landscape with its advanced robotics, data-driven solutions, Internet of Things integration, AR, and Blockchain. eCommerce’s rapid growth has propelled these technologies to keep up with rising demand, and with online retailers adopting them, businesses have seen increased response times and efficiency of delivery, improved integration with data analytics, dynamic routing for fastest route delivery, and seamless fulfillment enabled by fully digitized and cloud-based platforms.
It is important to note that while technology has redefined the way businesses sell online, efforts are being made to surpass customer expectations and many businesses are investing resources into bettering the lives of their customers. Additional delivery options have begun to emerge, such as alternative drop-off locations, and safe-handling protocols have become tighter, all to make sure consumers are given multi-delivery options, peace of mind, and improved experience with every order.
Diversification = key to growth
Another major shift that occurred within the Canadian retail industry, is the diversification of stores. No longer is it viable for an online business to exist with just their own website, they have to appear on various marketplaces to stay relevant.
The dominance of marketplaces, such as Amazon, Etsy, and Walmart, have played an instrumental role in sustaining local businesses that took the steps to digitize their storefront. By promoting their products on these marketplaces, small businesses are able to reach a massive international audience, and sell at a scale they previously never could. This has helped keep the small business economy afloat during the pandemic, with many store owners able to generate enough profit to stay operational and even grow.
Meet the new shopper
However, besides exposure on marketplaces, Canadian businesses that embraced eCommerce, have also reaped the rewards from investing in their online shopping experience, with 89% of Canadian shoppers choosing their next brand based on the quality of their shopping experience. Curb-side pickup has also exploded in popularity, especially during the early times of the pandemic. Trends show that consumer shopping behaviour has forever changed, and businesses not selling online will be left behind if they cannot keep up with customer expectations. Businesses must seek out solutions such as additional drop-off locations, curbside pickup and one-day delivery, to ensure customers are kept happy, and to stay in competition with the big online retailers.
A game-changing player in the market
eShipper revolutionized the way a shipping and fulfillment company operates. Right from becoming the official shipping partner for the DMS ShopHERE program to partnering with Google to help businesses get listed on Google Shopping for FREE, every move in 2020 was taken to go above and beyond to serve the Canadian businesses.
Keeping the digitization momentum going and helping the business community flourish, eShipper also partnered with Walmart Canada, BigCommerce, Clearbanc along with launching two specialized shipping services for Canada-wide as well as Canada to US markets. The sole aim is to help small businesses gain exposure while continuing to provide excellent shipping solutions to these businesses in the most challenging times.
The pandemic has had unprecedented changes in the Canadian online retail industry, with many taking on the challenge of adapting to the “new way of shopping” for the average Canadian. eCommerce will be forever changed post-pandemic, and we can expect more innovation, creativity, and growth in this sector in the years to come.