Local businesses that have always relied on word-of-mouth marketing are now being challenged to take their businesses online.
Online shopping is a growing trend in Canada. Online sales in 2014 were estimated at $22 billion and sales are expected to double in the next four years – from $22 billion in 2014 to $40 billion by 2019.
According to the Business Development Bank of Canada, nine out of 10 consumers claim to use their smartphone for pre-shopping activities, and three out of five say they use it to find the location and opening hours of a business that offers a particular product.
Susan Schienbein, Manager of the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, said e-commerce is also a great opportunity for local businesses.
“People are wired to their smart devices, they will find you if you are on the other end of the search button,” she said. “I might be hooked on shopping online, but if the retailer in my community is selling online, maybe I’ll shop there instead of the online stores from the U.S., particularly with a soft Canadian dollar and the cost of shipping.”
According to LOCO B.C., $2 out of every $3 spent online by Canadians goes to a U.S. retail website. The organization estimates that cross-border online shopping reduces the amount of money circulating in the local economy by up to 32 per cent. The higher the volume of online purchasing a consumer does, the more likely it is that they purchase with chains versus local businesses.
According to LOCO B.C., consumers would spend more money online with local businesses if they offered convenient shipping, e-stores and a better consumer experience navigating their online stores.