Amazon versus everyone else

Which retailers are competing, dominating and lagging behind the behemoth when it comes to online purchases?

In a survey consisting of 1,500 English and French Canadians, digital agency Reprise recently looked at how purchasing journeys are changing, from where and why they shop online.

While 75% of survey respondents say they’ve shopped on Amazon in the past six months (which is significantly less than traditional retailers like Walmart at 31% and Costco at 29%, according to the report), they do plan to shop other sources in the future.

The growth potential (the likelihood of consumers shopping other retailers’ online offerings in the future) for Costco was the highest at 23 points; Canadian Tire and Best Buy tied at 21 points; Wayfair came in at 20; while Walmart and Home Depot tied at 19. Indigo,, Ebay, Sephora, Shoppers, Rona, The Bay, Lowes and Loblaws sat below, descending in that order between 17 and 1o points.

Survey respondents were given the same selection of retailers, and asked where they are most likely to purchase products (across different categories) online.

According to the results, Amazon faces competition from Walmart for grocery purchases online: 22% of survey respondents say they are most likely to purchase food items online from the retailer, versus 21% from Amazon. As for patio and garden products, shoppers are more likely to shop Home Depot’s ecommerce offering (19%) than Amazon (16%). Online health and beauty purchases are more likely to happen at Shoppers (22%) than Amazon (19%).

Wayfair (26%), Best Buy (39%) and Canadian Tire (38%) are more dominant when it comes to online purchases across furniture, electronics and automotive (respectively) than Amazon (16%, 28%, and 23%).

However, on the other side of the coin, toys and games are significantly more likely to be purchased on Amazon (40%) versus Walmart (19%) online; appliances are more often purchased from Amazon (26%) than the second-most cited option, Costco (12%); while Amazon also brings in more baby-related purchases (30%) than Walmart online (20%).

According to the survey, it takes an average of eight days for a person to research products before purchasing online. This was then broken down by category: it takes 2-4 days to research grocery, baby products, books, health and beauty; 4-6 days for clothing, toys and games and auto parts; 7-9 days for garden and kitchen supplies; and 10-12 days for electronics and furniture.

The primary barrier to online purchasing is shipping fees, with 68% of respondents citing this as a disadvantage. The second barrier is an inability to “touch and feel a product before buying” (58%), while shipping times is the third-largest barrier to purchase at 39% (a demographic breakdown reveals 50% of those under 34 see this as a concern, versus 35% for the 35 and older set). Consumers are also concerned that they won’t get their purchased items as a result of “packaging theft” (21%) and some even cite wanting human interaction when they shop (18%). A small 5% say they’re just not comfortable with the online shopping process in general.

In-store trials or showrooming is most prevalent for clothing at 82% of survey respondents. Millennials and Gen Y are far less likely to prioritize the tactile element of apparel shopping than their older peers: 58% like to touch and feel products, versus 86% for the 35-plus demo. Similar discrepancies happen with furniture and appliances. However, there is overlap when it comes to the grocery category: 56% of millennials and Gen Y, compared to 58% for those over 35.