What you need to know about third-party sales platforms in Canada.

There has been a recent surge in online shopping in Canada, with an increasing number of retailers investing in digital platforms to reach customers. As per Statista, Canadian eCommerce retail trade sales totalled almost CAD $1.85 billion by late 2019, thanks to the more than 28 million Canadians making purchases online. Canadian eCommerce revenue is expected to surpass USD $33 billion by 2024.

As with most countries, Amazon dominates the field, offering benefits including huge market shares, a ready-made audience of 300 million customers worldwide, and easy-to-use stores. Amazon’s sales platform includes assistance with shipping and fulfillment, and flexible selling plans. (Note that Amazon’s Seller Central has a page specifically for international sellers wanting to sell in Canada, and includes information on customer expectations and service, taxes, and details regarding Canadian packaging and labelling requirements. The page should be read in its entirety before an application is submitted.)

Walmart Canada was established in 1994 via the acquisition of the Woolco chain and has grown to more than 400 stores across the country. Its flagship online store (walmart.ca) is visited by 750,000 customers daily. Walmart Canada is one of Canada’s largest employers and is ranked as one of the country’s top 10 most influential brands. Walmart also recently partnered with Shopify to expand its online marketplace.

Two prominent players in Canada’s online health and beauty sales channels include Well.ca and The Shopping Channel. Well.ca is a Canadian health and beauty website offering a broad selection of carefully curated health, wellness, baby, and beauty products, available online and delivered to the consumer’s door. Well.ca has more than 40,000 products in its line-up, as well as Canada’s largest assortment of green and natural brands. The company is headquartered in Ontario, with more than 200 employees in Guelph and Toronto. Although primarily an online portal, Well.ca does have two physical pharmacies in Toronto.

The Shopping Channel (TSC) is an interactive, multi-channel retailer offering an assortment of exclusive products and brands to its customers in over seven million households across Canada. Categories include health & beauty, jewelry, home & lifestyle, fashion & accessories, and electronics. TSC broadcasts and receivers order through its Customer Care Centre, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and also acquires business from other avenues including its website, which attracts 1.1 million unique viewers each month and accounts for 61% of TSC sales. TSC features more than 23,000 products in its on-air line-up, as well as website exclusives.

Other online marketplaces worth considering in Canada include:

  • eBay,
  • Best Buy Marketplace, which gives access to over 225 million visitors per year and 18.5 million visitors every month to their Canadian domain,
  • Newegg, a diverse marketplace that has historically sold electronics, audio parts, sporting goods and more,
  • eCrater,
  • Etsy, an international online marketplace for crafts and craft supplies,
  • Big Brands Inc., offering Canadian businesses the country’s “largest selection of impulse and travel-sized consumer goods” as well as beauty, skincare, baby, health, natural and green products, and
  • Faire, a two-year-old wholesale marketplace for artisanal products that uses AI and predictive analytics to forecast what items will be popular, and to order, source, and manage inventory efficiently. (The latter is headquartered in San Francisco, but does have an office in Waterloo, Ontario.)

And last year, Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw Companies Ltd., announced its plans to launch its own online marketplace, looking to compete with Amazon and Walmart for multi-product home delivery.

Canadian marketplaces each have their own customer bases, rules and policies, commission fees, and customer expectations. Although Canada currently does not have as many online marketplace options as other countries, the number is growing as international businesses realize the profit potential here.

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