An in-depth look at Canada’s shifting retail market.

Canadian retailers and clothing brands are re-evaluating marketing and distribution strategies. Growing needs exist for the use of technology and other analytical services to understand consumer interests and provide innovative customized experiences.

The Canadian retail clothing and accessories marketplace is highly competitive, with  2018 sales valued at more than $34.2 billion, an almost 5% increase from 2017. The industry continues to adapt and evolve as it attempts to better meet the needs and demands of Canadian consumers.

In 2018, a noticeable shift was identified within retail sales and marketing channels, and in the distribution process. Insights gleaned from discussions with various industry professionals, sales agencies and representatives, along with research conducted through out the year found that an increasing number of brand manufacturers re-evaluated their strategies and eliminated the middle person by selling direct-to-consumer and direct to client/retailers without the distributor or sales representation. With some brands, the sales responsibility has been brought in-house versus partnering with an agency or distributor, allowing for the brand to identify and evaluate their key customers and control where their product will be available.

Another trend seen is brands like Moose KnucklesCanada Goose, and Arc’teryx opening company-owned brick and mortar locations in key markets such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Retailers who started online are moving to physical brick-and-mortar locations, while others are merging physical locations and online shopping. Pop-up stores are a growing Canadian retail trend, allowing emerging brands to heighten awareness, reach new customers, and sell their products.

Studies have indicated that millennials are driving the consumer market and are extremely connected to their mobile devices – they use their smartphones to find information that can help them make their purchasing decisions. Many choose to buy online and they tend to be price conscious, savvy shoppers. Social media strategies that use platforms such as Twitter and Instagram – and partnering with influencers – is imperative to driving sales with this demographic.

The consumer experience continues to be of vital importance, as retailers try to differentiate themselves from others in the competitive marketplace. A customized innovative experience (whether in store or online) engages consumers who are targeted with customized messages and personalized experiences, product recommendations, and promotions that drive sales.

As retailers are seeking to understand their share of the market and how customers shop and buy, they are continuously adjusting how they do business.  It’s anticipated that artificial intelligence will gain influence; roughly 85 percent of all transactions will likely be AI-based by 2020. With this prediction – and how retail and consumer interests are changing – possible opportunities in the Canadian clothing and other retail marketplaces exist in the area and services of retail analytics, predictive modeling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to further predict customer behavior and generate customized target messaging and product recommendations.

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