The penetration of mobile devices in Canada, especially smartphones, continues to have a positive impact on the online retail market.

Online Retail in Canada Boosted by Sustained and Varied Use of Mobile

Canadians are among the most ‘connected’ people in the world. Canada ranks first among countries worldwide in terms of monthly pages per visitor, also tops the list for the number of monthly visits per visitor, and comes in second on the average time spent online per visitor per month – 41.3 hours. By way of comparison, French online browsers devote on average just 28 hours. These are among the headline findings of the 2013 Canada Digital Future in Focus report just published by US Internet analytics company comScore. The second part of the study focuses on Canadian mobile consumption habits, providing detailed information on the penetration of mobile information and communication devices. The findings show ever-growing numbers of people using smartphones to access the Internet, and comScore concludes that that this is the main reason for the observed increase in online retail sales.

Growing interaction with e-commerce sites

Smartphone penetration continues to increase, with the result that people are using mobile devices to do more things. Some 33% of the Canadians surveyed in December 2012 for the report said they used their smartphones to access their bank accounts, up from 29% in 2011, and 15% shopped online in 2012, up from 11% in 2011.  The e-commerce spend also rose 10% over that period, totalling over 22 million Canadian dollars for 2012. However, the findings of the study point not only confirm the growth of e-commerce pure and simple but also point to the growth of the ‘showrooming’ phenomenon. Some 30% of the users surveyed stated that they had used their smartphones to take a picture of a product, and 26% texted or called friends or family members about a product.

Increasing penetration of smartphones

The comScore researchers conclude that the progress of e-commerce in Canada is being directly boosted by people’s increasingly ingrained mobile consumption habits. In fact in less than a year there has been a dramatic change in the landscape of Canadian mobile subscribers. In 2011, by percentage of mobile subscribers, smartphones were still in the minority, though already accounting for 45% of the market, but by the end of 2012 this figure had risen to over 62%. In addition, consumer habits are changing, and Android-based devices have now become the most popular platform, ahead of the iPhone. The Apple and Google platforms cover 35% and 40% of the market, way ahead of Microsoft which seems to have reached a ceiling, with a 2% market share. Moreover smartphone subscribers loom large in terms of the overall ecosystem of consumer connected objects, compared with the owners of more basic mobile ‘feature phones’. Between December 2011 and December 2012, the number of smartphone owners possessing an additional connected device – an e-reader, or tablet for example – increased from 32% to 43%, while this figure rose from 22% to just 28% among feature phone users, the comScore report reveals.

By Quentin Capelle