DAILY NEWS Dec 31, 2013 8:46 AM - 0 comments

Canadian retailers lag online: report

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VANCOUVER, B.C.--According to a report published in the National Post this week, Canadian online retailers have yet to catch up to the performance of US stores with sites in this country. 

Only one Canadian retailer with a robust online presence- Lululemon Athletica Inc.- made the top five in a ranking of 21 e-commerce sites evaluated by Chasm Digital Inc.

The Vancouver-based digital consultancy examined 21 retailers and the bottom 10 were all Canadian, dominated by grocers and pharmacy retailers. 

Companies with a US parent "tend to have access to key data, systems and distribution networks that homegrown Canadian retailers do not", said Ashish Anand, a partner at Chasm.

The biggest laggards in the bunch were Canada’s grocery and pharmacy retailers, according to the report, which evaluated the retailers on 231 digital metrics across four channels — mobile, social, web and email.

That’s because the bulk of Canadian grocery and pharmacy retailers do not sell products online, have scant social media presence relative to other retailers and seem to be unaware of the vast consumer adoption of mobile technology, the agency said.

Food is also a product that many consumers still want to examine in person before they buy, and where many purchases are made on the spur of the moment. Fresh and perishable food is seen to be a less vulnerable retail category than books and electronics are, for example, to the threat of diminishing store sales per square foot due to an uptake of online sales.

Another key reason behind the rankings is that while Canadian retailers may do very well on one digital measure such as Web capability, they tend to fall short on another measure like social media.

Hudson’s Bay Co. department store’s TheBay.com website scored 3.2 out of five, but scored zero out of five on its mobile capabilities, the report said.

“When you think about all of the things that retailers have to do to just support one channel, like social media — for a them to do it well, they have to be in constant hyperdrive,” Anand said. “They can spend a lot of money improving the number of [merchandise units] they make available for sale online, yet invest very little on their search function. Or the product details and the reviews aren’t there," he said in the National Post.

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