Friday, July 18, 2008

What’s going on with e-commerce in Quebec?

Is Quebec falling behind in online retailing?

Internet strategy specialist Jean-Francois Renaud of Montreal-based consultants Adviso wonders in a recent article why Quebec companies offer so few transactional websites.

More than 40% of Quebecers bank online, but only 19% of consumers shop online. Renaud blames that dismal performance on the fact that Quebec companies don't take e-commerce seriously: 93% of them do not sell online.

“It is mostly the large websites with well developed English versions that have a real e-commerce presence online,” writes Renaud in a recent newsletter. Yet he is convinced that Quebecers, like consumers everywhere, want to use their computers to shop, to read up on future purchases and explore store locations.

He also warns that e-commerce is the future. “Who will be the consumers of tomorrow and of the next 10 years? Generation Y, the greediest and most exacting when it comes to the information found on websites they visit. This generation places importance on a web presence and values sites that offer just that.”

To demonstrate how businesses are missing out, Renaud compares two Quebec retailers, each of which has between 50 and 100 stores. “One offers a transactional website that is extremely developed offering all their products and more, has an aggressive email marketing strategy, and web promotions with the goal of driving store traffic. The other has a prehistoric transactional website that is not even Web 1.0.”

The result? The first store boasts more than 50 times the online revenues of the second store. “In short, it is more than a profitable project.”

To be fair, Renaud notes that it’s hard to find good e-commerce solution providers in Quebec. Many offer entry-level solutions and some offer costly state-of-the-art systems, but “few providers offer a medium solution, for projects between $25,000 and $75,000.”

Sounds like a market offering a few opportunities...

You can read Renaud’s complete article here.


Anonymous said...

It's a very interesting article. After living in Québec for almost 11 years there are a few things I've noticed that differ from English Canada.
First of all, younger people LOVE to be able to shop on line but the older generations still go out to the markets. For them it is as much of a social connection as anything else. They all get dressed up to go shopping very often with friends (even for groceries). They often stop for a bite to eat or lunch and in Montreal it is easy to get around by Metro and bus.
With the price of gas climbing ($1.49/L last week) and the generation that is curretnly enjoying a "promenade" in the shopping centres will very soon be in wheel chairs; Quebec companies that do NOT offer online retailing will have their clientele stolen by English companies outside of Québec that can offer services in French.

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