Over the past few years, Canadian consumers’ lives have been upended in many ways. They’ve responded by adopting new ways of living, working – and even shopping. Now, retailers must reimagine the experiences they provide based on the new needs of Canadian shoppers.
Every year, Canada Post surveys Canadian online shoppers to help retailers keep up with their evolving behaviours and preferences across the end-to-end online shopping experience. Change has been a constant in this research, but change feels like an understated way of describing what has happened to the retail market since early 2020. Now, after nearly three tumultuous years, ecommerce activity is stabilizing – but shoppers will never be the same. We’re in a “new normal” now.
Understanding online shopper behaviour in the new normal
Canada Post’s latest online shopper survey, conducted in 2022, zeroed in on how Canadian shoppers have changed over the past few years, and what they want from retailers in the new normal. Two widespread shifts emerged from this research – and both are prompting online shoppers to hold retailers to a higher standard than before:
A shift towards digital:
Canadian shoppers are now steeped in digital technologies and at ease with ecommerce. They’ve formed new habits that aren’t going away anytime soon. Thinking about how their shopping behaviour has changed over the past couple years, 50% of Canadian shoppers say they buy more items online now. As Canadians spend more time and money transacting digitally, they’re placing greater demands on ecommerce businesses to get every stage of the customer experience right – from site navigation and checkout to delivery and returns.
A shift towards purpose:
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Canadian online shoppers say they’re examining their values and prioritizing what’s most important to them in life. They now prefer to support businesses that share their values. Before deciding whether to buy from a retailer, Canadians often or always consider whether they treat their employees well (35%), protect the environment (27%), carry sustainably and ethically sourced products (25%) and are genuinely committed to doing the right thing (25%).
Though these shifts have occurred across the country, there are interesting differences in shopper behaviour and preferences from region to region.
How Quebec’s online shoppers compare to the rest of Canada
When looking at shopper behaviour across regions, Quebecers stand out for having experienced the least pronounced shift to digital and the most pronounced shift to purpose:
Quebec shoppers and the shift towards digital:
46% of online shoppers in Quebec say they buy more items online now than before the pandemic started. That’s lower than the national average (50%), as well as all other Canadian regions – British Columbia (50%), the Prairie and Northern regions (49%), Ontario (52%) and the Atlantic region (51%).
Quebec shoppers and the shift towards purpose:
69% of online shoppers in Quebec are examining their values and prioritizing what’s most important to them in life. That’s higher than the national average (65%), as well as all other Canadian regions – British Columbia (65%), the Prairie and Northern regions (60%), Ontario (63%) and the Atlantic region (67%).
4 tips for tapping into Quebec online shoppers’ spending power
Below are four research-backed tips for tapping into the spending power of Quebec’s online shoppers.
1. Get serious about sustainability
In the Quebec market, operating sustainably is not just good for the environment. It’s good for business.
Quebec shoppers have spent the past few years looking inward and taking stock of their values. Sustainability has emerged out of this self-reflection as a key priority for them, and they’re now expressing this through their shopping choices. Quebec-based shoppers are more inclined than those in any other Canadian region to say they often or always consider whether a retailer protects the environment (34%) and carries ethically and sustainably sourced products (32%) before they purchase from them.
2. Engage them across online and offline channels
Looking to get noticed by Quebec shoppers? Consider including print in your marketing mix. Though they’ve been spending much more time online over the past few years, ads in the mailbox still hold serious sway in the Quebec market. In fact, direct mail stands among the top three channels that Quebec shoppers consult for shopping inspiration, with 36% saying they consult it often or always when looking to learn about new brands and products. As a medium for discovery in Quebec, it’s only outperformed by search engines (45%) and customer ratings and reviews (40%).
3. Show off your Canadian roots
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Canadian shoppers to double-down on their support for Canadian businesses. Quebec shoppers are particularly motivated to buy Canadian. About half (49%) of shoppers in this market often or always consider whether a retailer is based in Canada (compared to 43% nationally) and 44% consider whether they sell Canadian-made products (compared to 37% nationally) before they decide to buy from them.
If you’re based in Canada and/or carry Canadian-made products, use this to your advantage in the Quebec market. Using Canadian imagery in your marketing and letting your customers know how you give back to Canadian communities are just a couple ways you can show off your Canadian roots.
4. Provide a stand-out delivery experience
If you’re selling online to consumers, you already know that the delivery experience impacts customer satisfaction, loyalty and repeat purchase rates – but this is even more true of Quebec’s online shoppers.
The top three things that shoppers in Quebec look for when choosing among retailers are low prices, excellent customer service and a great delivery experience. In fact, almost three in five (57%) online shoppers in Quebec often or always consider whether a retailer offers a convenient and flexible delivery experience before they decide to buy from them (compared to 49% nationally).
Quebec shoppers are also more inclined than those in any other Canadian region to say they’d choose one retailer over another if they offered a choice of delivery speeds (53%), flexible delivery options (49%) and delivery to a secure location, rather than leaving packages unattended at their doorstep (56%).
Quebec shoppers are evaluating retailers in a whole new light. They want better, more seamless online shopping experiences, and they want to feel good about whom they give their business to. While this may prove disruptive to some retailers, those that know their customer, tailor their experiences and act with purpose will find immense opportunities to not only survive, but thrive, in ecommerce’s new normal.
Learn more about what online shoppers want
Based on a survey of 5,000 Canadians who shop online, Canada Post’s full online shopper report, Thriving in the new normal. explores:
- How Canadian online shoppers have changed
- The 7 shopper segments of the new normal
- How to master your ecommerce purchase journey
- How brand loyalty is earned today
Download Canada Post’s online shopper report, Thriving in the new normal.
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*All statistics are referenced from Phase 5. Canadian Online Shopper Study, May 2022.