When consumers say that they have to buy a particular item, many people envision them physically hopping in a car, driving to a storefront, browsing the aisles and, when they find what they were looking for, waiting in line and going through the payment process. This is still largely what happens when gifts or personal items have to be bought for any number of reasons.
That being said, because the Internet is so popular in Canada, there is another valid option. Patrons don't even have to leave the comfort of their own homes to buy merchandise anymore - they can look through a greater selection of inventory online and have whatever they're looking for sent directly to them. This can take a lot of the time and effort out of the purchasing process.
And though Internet shopping admittedly took a little while to catch on in Canada, that's not really the case anymore. For example, at the end of 2012, Canadians spent a record amount of money online before the winter holidays. According to MasterCard, about $2.8 billion was spent online in December 2012.
Since then, it seems this practice has gotten more popular. But where are people shopping? While everyone has their personal favourites, industry experts recently released awards for the best e-commerce websites.
Various brands win big
Seven businesses with an online presence were named recipients of the 2013 Canada Post E-commerce Innovation Awards after being judged by a panel of experts on their business models and customer service reputations. The honorees were announced on September 25 at a gala event and shared a $1 million prize.
Among those given an award were Lowe's Canada, which won under the category of Best Multi-channel Retailer - Large, and Snakes & Lattes, which took the prize for the smaller division. Other winners included Well.ca, Jewlr and TenTree International.
One award was chosen by consumers in an online vote - NailPolishCanada.com won the Consumer Champion Award.
Local companies are very successful
Thanks to another recent report, this one published by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), we know that this trend of online buying probably won't wane any time soon. The study revealed that though many e-commerce initiatives are underdeveloped, consumers want to buy their favourite products online.
While online shopping was just one notable trend noted by the BDC, another was the fact that two-thirds of us would prefer to buy locally made products in order to benefit our communities. This might prompt retailers that make their merchandise themselves and don't have a presence on the Internet - or those whose websites aren't optimized - to step up their efforts for best results.
Items labeled with a "Made in Canada" tag are selling well because consumers know that their purchase benefits the national and local economies, BDC Chief Economist Pierre Cléroux stated.
Other trends that online shoppers are pursuing include buying healthy products, looking at tailor-made items and using the Internet to inform buying decisions overall.