Life in a Northern Country

23 Dec ’06

With apologies to Dream Academy, this has been on my mind lately as I’ve been finishing up on Christmas shopping. For years now, I’ve done this exclusively online, and the latest data suggests there are few others like me in Canada. This is a small country, after all, and what with the extraordinarily high costs of e-commerce, few Canadian retailers have the means to get into it, and as a result, relatively few Canadian consumers are diving in.

Extraordinarily high costs? Wha??? There must be a disconnect here – I realize that there are costs, but what better way for a landlocked retailer to extend reach and brand from coast to coast and compete with the bricks and mortar retailers who’ve invested many millions to do the same thing. Gosh – there is an entire underground economy of eBay sellers in the US now with vigorous businesses run out of basements, garages and spare rooms, and here we’re trying to decide whether it’s safe to use our credit cards online?

No, the real issue, I suspect, is that Canadians don’t shop in greater numbers online because the stores they’d like to buy from – US retailers – don’t ship to Canada, or if they do, impose surcharges, or take longer to ship, or sell goods (electronics is the classic example) that include US-only warranties, to protect their more timid Canadian distributors. If there were more serious competition for our dollars, Canadian retailers would be forced from their drowsy slumbers to fight more aggressively for our business, and robust e-commerce would follow. But as I said, we’re a small country, and for every competitive market there’s a near- monopoly just ’round the corner.

Previous post:

Next post: