I have read countless articles about how Canada is falling behind in E-Commerce in terms of usage and innovation. The situation in Canada has always been a chicken and egg scenario where Canadian retailers are hesitant to invest in E-Commerce because there is not enough online shopping volume happening here and vice versa. However, I mentioned in a previous article on Techvibes that there is an emerging interest by Canadian retailers to increase their investment in online shopping platforms.
While not all of our retailers are jumping on board just yet, there is a sense of urgency by others to catch-up with what US retailers are doing or risk losing businesss. With the Canadian dollar at par with the US, Canada’s retailers know that they might lose business to US websites because of better deals and better selection online. However, perhaps the solution is not to mimick the US but to find innovative ways to compliment or enhance the online shopping experience to suit Canadian online behaviours.
I thought it was worth highlighting some Canadian E-Commerce startups who are innovating in the retail space in Canada right now. This list is in no particular order of preference.
- Well.ca – You might have already heard of this online retail start-up as they have been making a lot of noise and gaining a lot of ground lately. Ali Asaria, who has been profiled in many Canadian publications including The Globe and Mail and Sprouter, started the online health and beauty store in his father’s basement. Well.ca takes a very personable and Canadian approach to running an online shopping site. They include hand-written notes in all of their boxes that are shipped to customers for free. They also ship to the US, which reverses the trend that we see for many Canadian retailers. Well.ca has also been part of a grass roots initiative called ECommerceCamp to try and impact the growth of the online retail industry in Canada.
- Wishabi.ca – Wishabi is a Canadian online comparison shopping startup that provides Canadian shopping intelligence from over 500 stores across Canada and the US. They help online shoppers to review multiple merchants at a glance, find deals and helpful recommendations, shop both sides of the border with all fees included, and discover unique products with personalized shopping profiles. Their website takes a fresh approach to the Canadian shopping trend of researching online and purchasing in-store. They make it easy for Canadian online shoppers to get all of the information they need in one place.
- ClipMobile – This Canadian mobile startup has developed a location-based mobile coupon application that enables Canadians to download coupons for free directly from their smartphones. The fee is covered by merchants who pay a yearly subscription based on the number of locations at which they wish to offer coupons. Again, this business compliments the Canadian tendency to research products and deals online and then buy in-store.
- Recarter.com – This Canadian E-Commerce innovation tool is launching soon and will help online retailers to recoup some of their lost sales from abandoned shopping carts. The shopping cart abandonment issue is a global issue and Recarter’s solution could not only help retailers in Canada but any retailer who would like to recover lost sales. Who wouldn’t want that?
- SmartBrideBoutique.com – SmartBride is a premium classifieds website that enables recent brides to recoup up to 50% of their wedding costs while helping brides-to-be to save on their upcoming wedding. It is both a budget-savvy and eco-friendly concept for online shopping in Canada and the US. SmartBride is also taking a very unique approach to helping Bridal store retailers to sell off unsold inventory online.
- Trimirror.com – triMirror is a website where users can upload photos of themselves via their smartphones to share pictures and fashion ideas, get fitting advice and styling tips in real-time. You can ask their community for advice, or customize your audience to folks with similar fashion tastes.
- WagJag.com – This wouldn’t be a blog about online shopping if I didn’t mention at least one group buying website. WagJag launched during the height of the group buying craze that has happened in the last 12 to 18 months. They are a member of the TorStar Digital family of properties and have had tremendous success in the group buying market in Canada to date.
This is just a short list of websites that I have heard about recently and is not, by any means, complete. If you know of other Canadian E-Commerce or online shopping startups worth mentioning, please let me know and I will add them to the growing list.