Canadians buy less, spend more than Americans online

A new report also finds which consumer groups are most brand loyal and do the most online research.

Shopify has released its first global report on the state of direct-to-consumer commerce, shedding new light on the shopping behaviours of Canadians compared to their global counterparts.

The Ottawa-based ecommerce platform’s State of Commerce report is based on global sales data from its own platform, taken between April 2018 and April 2019, an online survey of more than 3,800 Shopify merchants in March, as well as quantitative and qualitative research on North American consumers from December 2018, including interviews and an online survey of more than 2,600 shoppers.

The findings also dig into the particularities of Canadian shoppers when compared to others around the globe. For example, Canadians spend the second-most on average per transaction (at $100.66 USD), behind only those in Japan ($141.72 USD), but they buy three times less on average than their American counterparts, with average basket-sizes of two items in Canada versus six items in the U.S.

And while they may spend less on average than Japanese consumers, Canadians are quicker to cash out, taking an average of 26.90 minutes to shop versus the average 27.60 minutes in Japan and 28.23 minutes in Singapore. Canadians are, however, slower to finalize their purchases than shoppers in the U.S. (23.47 min), the U.K. (19.32 min), France (18.97 min) and Germany (17.68 min).

Across geographies and no matter whether the person is a “night owl or a midday shopper,” the report finds that “consumers shop to unwind.” While transactions were revealed to peak at 5 PM EST, both in Canada and the U.S., American consumers prefer browsing later at night, with the activity peaking around 12 AM EST, versus 8 PM EST in Canada.

In addition to these country-specific insights, Shopify’s report identifies trends across four subsets of North American shoppers.

There are “trend trackers,” who hesitate to provide personal information and prefer to purchase in-store, even after doing online research; “engaged explorers,” who enjoy buying new things, prioritize familiar brands and rely heavily on reviews; “savvy searchers,” who are comfortable using online tools, thoroughly research their options prior to purchase and have high expectations on quality; and “pragmatic planners,” who enjoy shopping, research online but tend to buy in-store (usually during pre-planned one-stop-shop trips).

Engaged explorers and pragmatic planners demonstrate the highest brand loyalty, while trend trackers are less likely to go to the same stores each time they shop. At a global level, consumers appear to be favouring brand loyalty over individual purchases, with more than 62 million of them (representing 14% of all buyers) buying from the same store more than once.

Shopify also finds that trend trackers, who make up 28% of the population, buy because they “want it” and are “indifferent to marketing engagement,” while engaged explorers (13%), shop to “experience it” and want to be engaged with marketing. Meanwhile, savvy searchers (28%), whose primary motivation is “finding it,” prefer discovering things for themselves – without marketing’s assistance. Making up the largest group, pragmatic planners (31%) buy for “needing it” and prefer not to engage with marketing.