I am proud to be Canadian but when it comes to being a Canadian entrepreneur, I realised a long time ago that the key to real growth was looking beyond our borders. We launched our first multi-currency eCommerce site in 1999 and our first multi-lingual ecommerce site in 2005 and international eCommerce has been a major focus of our business for more than a decade.
Depending on whose statistics you use, the Canadian B2C eCommerce market is about $28 Billion dollars. That is nothing to sniff at and companies are making a lot of money selling to Canadian consumers. For me though, the real story in Canada is the $483 Billion market to the south. They want to see US dollar prices (they don't understand the exchange rate) and they want cheap shipping just like they are used to from their domestic retailers. This usually requires merchants to setup relationships with a third party logistics (3PL) or freight forwarding company. The more you act like a local, the better your conversion rates will be.
For US retailers, Canada is the perfect beta test for internationalization before moving into the $360+ Billion EU market. We speak the same language (mostly), share the same time zones, and consume the same media. Expanding to Canada can help you sort out your processes for business structure, tax issues, and working with a 3PL company. Most manufacturers and brand owners already operate across borders in North America and opening up a direct to consumer channel can help offset international B2B costs. Once your processes are established in Canada, it is easy to replicate in the UK, a market estimated at $169B before tackling translations for the rest of the EU. Another great opportunity for US retailers looking to test their readiness to expand overseas is creating a Spanish site for the domestic Hispanic market in the US which is already larger than Canada.
If as a Canadian you are still not sure, check out the A.T. Kearney 2015 Global Retail E-Commerce Index
that ranks e-commerce markets according to attractiveness for merchants and leaves Canada out in the cold at number 11 behind even tiny Belgium and isolated Australia.
For 2016 growth will be beyond our borders.