eCommerce is one of the rapidly-expanding industries in North America. However, if you are a Canadian entrepreneur, the chances are that you have not taken advantage of this phenomenon yet.
As of 2006, the total annual online retail sales in the US have surpassed $170 billion. Yet, in Canada, the percentage of firms that are engaged in eCommerce has remained unchanged at 7% since 2001. Simply put, Canadian entrepreneurs have, for the most part, been ignoring the enormous revenues that could be generated from eCommerce sales. In fact, many Canadian websites avoid eCommerce entirely by asking potential customers to mail in a form, fax in order, or to call a customer service representative to process an order.
Canadian online customers tend to buy from US online stores because Canadian online stores simply do not exist! Conversely, the small number of Canadian online stores in existence benefit immensely from the $170 billion US eCommerce market. The combination of existing free-trade agreements, combined with a borderless Internet, has allowed several high profile Canadian businesses to discover online direct-sales channels to US consumers.
The Internet remains one of the largest untapped revenue sources for Canadian businesses.
However, in order for Canadian businesses to start an eCommerce business, they need to surpass two main hurdles:
- If you’re serious about selling products and services online, you have to offer an online catalogue, an online shopping cart, and online payment processing.
- In order to generate sales, you will need to generate cost-effective Internet marketing. Unlike bricks-and-mortar stores, customers do not just “pass-by” an online store. Online stores require marketing to be well indexed by search engines, and to be indexed by relevant articles throughout the Internet. Without marketing, your website will have zero visibility.
In the past, it has been difficult for Canadian entrepreneurs to obtain access to an online shopping cart because many of the reputable providers (such as Yahoo stores, and Amazon.com merchant solutions) are American, and have not expanded into the Canadian marketplace yet.
There are various problems associated with online payment processing that have traditionally made it more difficult for companies to start eCommerce ventures in Canada. First of all, banks are hesitant to open up Internet merchant accounts without hefty up-front deposits. Secondly, it is difficult for Canadians to obtain access to both US dollar and Canadian dollar merchant accounts because the majority of Internet merchants are US-based. Finally, Canadian banks will not offer more than one credit card (Visa or Mastercard); in order to create accounts for Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, businesses will have to open up multiple accounts with multiple banks.
Internet marketing is another aspect that is paramount to the success of an eCommerce business. Internet shopping cart solutions (such as Yahoo stores and Amazon merchant solutions) only provide you with the tools to sell, but they do not provide you with advice on HOW to sell over the Internet. This advice is not readily available because the majority of marketing and public relations firms in Canada have no experience in Internet marketing, and instead deal with traditional media such as television, print, signs, and public events. Because the Internet is an entirely new medium for business, the traditional mass-media advertising that works for bricks-and-mortar operations does not work for the Internet. Traditional advertising does not adequately target Internet consumers (and is thus expensive), and simply is not as effective for Internet websites. For example, how many times have you heard a radio advertisement for a website, but have simply forgotten the website by the time you made it home to your computer?
The best way to generate targeted access to your website is through backlinks from reliable and contextual Internet websites. Statistics show that 70% of US adults use the Internet as an information source when shopping for products and services (source Kelsey Group and ConStat study in March of 2005). Thus, many US adults use the Internet, first and foremost, as a research tool. They use the Internet as a channel to make informed purchases only after sufficient information is provided.
Overcoming the barriers associated with an online shopping cart, and with website promotion
AlgraOnline.com offers a new turn-key solution that provides you with a shopping cart, a merchant gateway, and Internet marketing services in a single package. This package is provided to clients risk-free without any significant up-front payments!
AlgraOnline’s turn-key e-Commerce solution is ideal for existing Canadian businesses who are interested in expanding their business to take advantage of the large revenues associated with Internet eCommerce. AlgraOnline can use their solution cart solution to quickly create an online store in either English and/or French, and have the entire store indexed by online search engines. Their stores include 128-bit Secure Socket Layering and an online gateway to Internet credit card merchants, which provides a secure environment for multi-currency credit card and cheque transactions. Canadian taxes are automatically calculated by their taxation engine, and their store can support automatic shipping calculations to both Canada Post and UPS. The comprehensive package also includes all necessary accounting services, and Internet marketing services to promote your website in articles all over the Internet.
Increased sales, without any monetary risk, or channel conflict
AlgraOnline.com offers a risk-free Internet-based opportunity to expand a business. Their commission fee is calculated as a percentage of their client’s online sales. This is a win-win situation because studies have shown that a strong online presence generates both online sales, and pushes retail sales. Recall that 70% of US adults use the Internet as a source for information prior to making actual purchases. Many of these potential customers may opt to purchase merchandise from a bricks-and-mortar store instead of an online store. Therefore, regardless of whether the Internet marketing effort generates online sales, retail sales will also be increased.
Exciting risk-free Internet opportunities for Canadian businesses!
Take advantage of the unique opportunities afforded to Canadian businesses, and start using the Internet to your benefit.