Expanding your e-retail activity into Canada is a great opportunity to scale your business, as Canada is one of the fastest growing eCommerce markets in the world (expected to hit $104B value by 2025)*.
Here are five, strategical, tactical, and operational, things to keep in mind when heading North of the border:
There will be a different set of key retailers — you might not be familiar with all of them:
- By far, Amazon is the #1, most established and advanced e-retailer in CA in terms of offerings and consumer usage.
- Second to Amazon, comes Loblaws — and their subsidiaries like Real Canadian Superstore or Shoppers Drug Mart – then there is Walmart CA, Sobeys, Metro, Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and Jean Coutu — they are all well established and loved by the consumer.
- Not all the major players in the US are in Canada. (i.e., no Target)
- Not all advertising offerings available in the US are available in Canada. Especially Alpha & Beta tests like Amazon Live Shopping, or ads on FeeVee.
- Campaign budgets will most likely be smaller compared to the US, depending on your vertical though you may see larger order sizes or better ROAS.
Language and Culture should be major considerations.
- Its more than just French. Though English is the primary language, and while a lot of Amazon US campaigns can be copied over, be prepared to address nuances in spelling and search terms. American English and Canadian English do vary ever so slightly. Lean into search query data to understand how the Canadian consumer is searching.
- French Canadian or Quebecois – It is NOT standard French. Go the extra mile and have bespoke French-Canadian copy and creative where applicable.
- The Quebec consumer is different from the rest of the country. Take the step to develop bespoke creative / copy. Attention to local nuances will go a long away in terms of brand loyalty. There are approximately 8.5MM French speakers in Quebec (20%)
- Canada is also VERY diverse and multicultural. With South Asian, Chinese, and Black communities growing the fastest, this is an opportunity for brands to target and discover new audiences**.
Make sure your PDPs are optimized for Canada.
- Just like with your paid media, linguistically account for products on your digital shelf in both Canadian English and Canadian French
- Units and specs will be different for example: g vs ounces or cm vs inches.
- PDP content will need to be directly uploaded to Canadian retailers as they might not be in network of commonly used syndication tools like Salsify or Syndigo
- Be aware of any Product naming difference or different packaging in the US vs Canada. Make sure to update imagery to reflect Canadian packaging and naming conventions.
Your brand awareness and familiarity will be different in Canada.
- Don’t presume Canadians will know your brand just because the brand is well known in the US. Be ready to invest in Awareness – especially if competing against Canadian brands. Lowe’s vs CanadianTire.ca
- Highlight features of your product that the Canadian consumer would relate to: Sustainable, environmentally friendly, etc.
- Canadian’s, especially in Quebec, tend to support / choose local and Canadian brands first over brands from other countries, including the US***.
And finally, be ready to do everything in CAD
- Make sure operationally your team can buy media and pay retail partners in CAD vs USD. Most retailers, including Amazon, are not set-up to accept payments in USD for Canada-based campaigns. Take potential FX fluctuations into account.
- Also, goes without saying: all product listing prices need to be in CAD.