A few weeks ago Dx3 2013’s event director Anthony Hull spoke to us about the “well-pronounced e-commerce lag in Canada,” despite the fact that our country is one of the world’s most digitally engaged.
Over the past few months Techvibes.com has whether Canada has the right funding mechanisms for e-commerce or other startups. Some argue there’s not enough capital going around and that it’s too hard to compete with established US giants with big name Silicon Valley backers. We’re too conservative and we don’t want to take the risks.
But Shop.ca’s Drew Green says that there’s a lot of “right” in Canada. Green built the Canadian startup from nothing while competing with the likes of industry giant Amazon. Together with cofounder Trevor Newell, the pair launched the e-commerce platform and digital marketplace in spring 2011.
In a recent talk with Dx3 Green said that from the start they wanted to be the number one online shopping destination in Canada. They made it clear that they wanted to grow quickly and Shop.ca built up a solid group of investors.
He also thinks Canada is becoming one of the best countries in the world to be an entrepreneur and last week in Toronto the CEO and founder delivered six key points on why he thinks Canada is right for digital retail.
1. E-commerce in Canada is a very big market and it’s growing quickly: with over $25 billion in sales in 2012 and a 10 per cent annual growth the space is growing at a tremendous rate. “E-commerce is truly where the growth is,” he said.
2. Canadian retailers are investing in Canadian-focused e-commerce: One of the questions the CEO consistently hears is, “what’s wrong with e-commerce in Canada?” Part of the answer is that the consumer is never at fault. “The consumers in any market will follow investment by businesses in that market,” said Green. “So as retailers invest and manufactures invest in their ability to ship direct to consumers, consumer adoption will increase (and it’s definitely happened).”
3. There is a ton of talented people in Canada: “I actually started getting worried five or six years into moving to the US that I wouldn’t be able to come back [to Canada] because I wouldn’t find comparable opportunities here,” he said. “I think there’s so much opportunity now for the digital community and the fact is there’s just a ton of talented people in Canada.
4. Canadians are great partners and believe in Win3: Green says that Americans are good for partnering but Canadians are even better, and that shop.ca has “literally 500 partners here.” “Without those partnerships we wouldn’t be here,” he said. “We believe that what was right in Canada was that companies understood how to do good partnerships (what we call win3: a win for us, a win for them and a win for the consumer).”
5. Canadians are extremely loyal: if Canadians find an experience they like, they come back. Shop.ca has been successful in bringing consumers back through a successful loyalty program.
Green cites his competitor Amazon as a fellow company with impressive numbers: 70 per cent of their traffic and about 72 per cent of their transactions are returning customers. “For us and any e-commerce business there’s something called ‘angles of reoccurrence’,” said Green. “You have to set the business up so consumers come back, so that other key stakeholders come back time and time again and you’re not paying them to do that.”
6. Canadians appreciate transparency and great service: yet another core value of Shop.ca was taking advantage of poor Canadian shopping experiences with US sites. “So for us free shipping, no duty and free returns are core to transparency as we develop the business.”