In many ways, starting a Canadian e-commerce business is no different from other businesses. The entrepreneur must obtain the requisite business licenses, decide on the most suitable way to organize the enterprise, and develop a feasible business plan.
There are specific differences, however. For instance, the business won’t require a physical location beyond its registered address. As such, there may be licenses an e-commerce business can forego and compliance requirements unique to offline stores.
Canada Posts reported that e-commerce sales doubled between 2019 and 2022, as the average shopper made 26.4 online orders. Building your e-commerce business the right way is imperative to getting more sales expected in the future.
Starting a Canadian e-commerce website
Here are five key elements to consider before starting an e-commerce website in Canada.
- Website Considerations
- Payment Options and Issues
- Shipping and Logistical support
- Customer experience
- Product Promotion and Marketing
1. Website Considerations
Your website is integral to the success of every e-commerce business. For a Canadian firm, it is imperative to obtain a top-level domain, essentially a .com. In case your preferred .com is taken, get the .ca domain name. Buy both domains and then have the .ca point to the .com, ensuring your website does not lose traffic to malicious websites.
The website is also your foremost competitive advantage. As a result, ensure only to use the most reputable web hosting company or e-commerce platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce. For instance, your website servers should be located in countries with strong data protection laws, while your website should have core security features.
It is advisable to build the website using specialist e-commerce services, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce, among others. Beyond the usual concerns like security and performance, these services are better suited to operating e-commerce websites, have enhanced security features, and incorporate analytic capabilities needed to grow your business.
Every e-commerce website must load through a secure protocol. Running an unsecured store brings you a bad reputation that could cause search engines to bury your online store. It could also violate Canadian and international customer data privacy laws, including GDPR, DMCA, and the California Consumer Privacy laws. E-commerce websites without an SSL certificate or HTTPS protocol can also be flagged, preventing users from visiting your store and potentially losing vital customer orders.
2. Payment Options and Issues
A great e-commerce website must have multiple payment options. To make this a reality, sign up for every digital payment processing method popular among your target customer demographic. The point is to give customers sufficient options for processing their payments on your online store, ensuring that you get all the orders due to limited payment options.
Besides cash, Shopify identifies seven popular payment options in Canada, including credit and debit cards, bank transfers, autopay, buy now pay later (BNPL), and cryptocurrency.
Hostgator, a popular web hosting company, identifies the top e-commerce payment methods in Canada, including PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, American Express, Stripe, Square, Visa, Masterpass, and 2Checkout. The customer will choose whichever method they have or one that’s convenient for the type of purchase they want to make.
Multiple payment methods will help increase your sales by reducing shopping cart abandonment. A BigCommerce study listed cart abandonment as a crucial factor in lower online store sales, and the lack of a suitable payment method contributes to abandoned carts. An online store with numerous options to pay for purchases makes the shopping process more manageable, lowering cart abandonment rates. A 2019 European Payments Council study found that 6% of willing customers abandoned their shopping carts because there weren’t enough payment options.
You should also process payments quickly and have clear refund and exchange policies that integrate returns, discounts, and rewards into the overall payment mechanism.
3. Shipping and Logistical support
Figure out your core logistical needs before you build an e-commerce website. E-commerce logistics vary from that of physical stores. Nevertheless, your customers want to pay for purchases arriving on time.
Similarly, online stores with lean teams require a robust stock-keeping system to manage the numerous customer orders, allowing the website to keep track of your inventories in real-time. For instance, you should address common shipping issues like the speed of delivery and returns, ease of trucking packages, etc.
An ideal online store will integrate all the relevant logistical concerns into one system that is optimized to work efficiently for both the business and its customers. That is why services like WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, and more have become industry mainstays.
Logistics in e-commerce also includes how your target market perceives your store. For example, failure to enable your customers to track their orders can be fatal where your competition has said features. The same applies to the ease with which customers can send back product returns or the time you take to deliver their purchases. Similarly, having an up-to-date stock management system is critical.
4. Customer experience
User experience is at the core of e-commerce website success. According to Blyp.ai, an e-commerce data leverage platform, it takes an average of 50 to 100 quality visitors for stores to make one sale. Given the ‘average time on page’ for online stores is just 38 seconds, according to Google Benchmarking Report 2019, delivering a better customer experience could drive more sales, with one’s purchase probability highest the longer they stay on your product pages.
Great e-commerce customer experience is multi-faceted. A user-friendly design that’s easy to navigate and mobile-friendly will boost your e-commerce sales. Keep things simple but effective, including your homepage, product pages, CTA, and sales funnel.
Online stores must allow customers to find whatever they need quickly. The website should be fast-loading, have an appealing design, and offer a great shopping experience.
As for a mobile-friendly approach, a 2019 Hootsuite Digital Report found that 48% of the global time spent on the internet came from unique mobile devices, while other studies show that 79% of smartphone users have purchased something online. Invest in enhanced website search and filtering functionality, easy navigation to individual product pages, and excellent mobile functionality. Beyond a friendly interface, high-resolution visual content makes your store attractive, much like the interior of a physical store, contributing to increased average time on your pages.
5. Product Promotion and Marketing
Promoting your products start on the website by including extensive product information. Potential customers value comprehensive product details, including high-resolution images, the ability to compare products, stock levels, and any variations in the available products. Such information gives customers options.
Because online shopping does not enable customers to see, feel, or even try the product, giving detailed product information is central to whether they buy. For example, adding individual measurements to clothes, specific use purposes for instruments, and appliance energy consumption rates help convince customers to buy your product.
Such information must also be presented correctly. Content optimization is critical before and during the development of your e-commerce website. It should include search engine optimization to make the details appear in search engines, load fast to render quickly, and have enough details to convince customers.
As for marketing, the website should support search engine ranking, social media sharing, and running online advertising. According to Omnisend, one of the world’s most prominent e-commerce email marketing and SMS platforms, online merchants enjoy five times more sales if they implement email automation to convert more visitors into paying customers.
However, your online store also needs proof of service, including user reviews. Allow customers to leave reviews after buying from you, and also include a mechanism to import reviews of your site from other websites such as Google, Facebook, TrustPilot, and more. These trust factors, including video reviews, let your past customers share their experience with your website, products, or even staff, making them useful in convincing future customers.
There are a few items to consider when setting up your next Canadian e-commerce website. Our BePro Software team can help you with, selecting the right e-commerce provider, marketing solutions, and server hosting if needed. Contact us today with your project details and we can make recommendations for making it a reality.