In the first half of 2021, 82% of Canadian consumers made an online purchase, according to The NPD Group’s 2021 E-commerce Channel Report. Overall, online visits grew by 25% in the 12 months ending June 2021, accounting for 22% of all buying visits in Canada. By contrast, brick & mortar buying visits declined by 3% during the same time period. The most significant increases in online shopping occurred in categories like apparel and footwear.

“E-commerce has been the focus for almost every industry over the past 18 months,” said Tamara Szames, Canadian retail industry advisor at The NPD Group. “When the pandemic began the vast majority of consumers were forced to shift their spend online, which accelerated the growth of the channel by almost 5 years.”

Understanding the Purchase Journey

According to the report, the top triggers for online purchases among Canadian Gen Z and Millennial consumers were: family and friends, retailer websites, and social media influencers. This cohort also tends to find video content more helpful in informing their purchase decisions. Furthermore, about 56% of younger online shoppers heavily rely on online consumer reviews when making purchase decisions.

Online shoppers have also increased their visits to other retailer websites and social media platforms to start their online shopping journey. Interestingly, smaller retailers have been upping their online game during the pandemic. Collectively, these retailers are responsible for up to 36% of the most recent online purchase, an increase of 5 points from 2020.

Although Canadians were quick to adopt online shopping during the pandemic, in-store shopping is still the preferred shopping method for over half of shoppers. The top categories for in-store shopping are grocery, home products, major appliances, clothing, beauty, and wellness. Consumers are still eager to see, feel and try the products in-person (this is especially true for boomers and female shoppers).

Source: NPD