eStrategies - 6 Ways to Target Your E-commerce Site to Canadians
One of the things online retailers can do in the current economy is expand into international markets. As daunting as that may seem to some, an easy way to start is with our neighbors to the north.
Canada’s population is approximately the same as the state of California, and 80 percent of Canadians live within 200 miles of U.S. borders. What’s more, they're very accustomed to shopping online and buying from U.S. companies. They understand how it works, and here's what attracts them:
Lower prices: Often, U.S.-based online retailers offer lower prices, even after adding in currency exchange rates, additional shipping and any border transaction fees.
They want the latest and greatest: Frequently new products, particularly consumer electronics, are available in the U.S. first.
It’s easy: Canadians understand the language and culture of the U.S.
To reach this lucrative market, consider these six actions first:
- Figure out what your product offering should be. Look for products that are hard to find in Canada. You might consider starting with just one or two of your lead items. Also, make sure you have the rights to distribute those products in Canada.
- Find a reputable border agent who can provide the services you’ll need. Start with UPS or FedEx, but also talk to firms that handle many direct marketers’ shipments to Canada.
- Build a new site for Canadian consumers, or simply indicate on your current site which products are available for shipment to Canada. Start by consolidating orders for twice weekly shipments to Canada. Slower delivery is fine; Canadians understand it’ll take longer.
- Try a direct mail or pay-per-click campaign plus SEO efforts. Relying solely on SEO results in a slow build.
- Form a dedicated group of telephone reps to handle Canadian calls. Give them a Canadian geography lesson beforehand.
- Don’t target French-speaking Canadians in Quebec in your early efforts. They’re generally unresponsive to English offers and prefer to be addressed in French. That forces you to start translating, which, at least initially, could complicate your plans.
Terry Jukes is the president of Ability Commerce, a Delray Beach, Fla.-based e-commerce Web site development firm. Reach Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.