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Canada is the global leader in cross-border e-commerce for retail, with 75% of purchases made by Canadian shoppers being cross-border. Not surprisingly, most of these purchases are made from businesses located in the US. Credit cards still remain the preferred payment method, followed by Interac and PayPal. Whilst Interac is a local direct debit scheme, it also provides online banking, which can be used for online purchases.

Domestic and Preferred Card Schemes

MasterCard is the preferred credit card scheme in Canada, with 53.6% share.[1]

Alternative Payment Methods

Canadians prefer cards, accounting for 65% of transactions. But e-wallets comprise 23.2% of the payments market, which is dominated by PayPal (22%). Bank transfers make up 3.3% of transactions, while offline cash payments account for a further 7.2%. [2]

Instadebit: a secure online payment method that lets customers pay for purchases through online banking.

Interac Online: allows customers to pay for goods and services over the internet by using funds directly from their bank accounts. Because no financial information is shared with the online merchant, the Interac Online service is more secure than online credit card payments. This service, an Interac branded service operated by Acxsys Corporation, began in 2005 and is expanding as more merchants choose to participate.

PayPal: an online payments and money transfer service that allows customers to send money via email, phone, text message or Skype. Founded in 1998, PayPal offers products to both individuals and businesses alike, including online vendors, auction websites and corporate users.

Prepaid Card: a payment card with monetary value stored into it, without maintaining an account with a bank.

Prepaid Voucher: an electronic stored value voucher, which could be redeemed through SMS and be transferred instantly in a user’s account for immediate use.[3]

Other Payment Methods

Cash on delivery, prepayment, direct debit, and payment upon invoice are far behind. While every second person 'never' uses these pay- ment methods in the interna- tional comparison, more than three quarters never use them in Canada.[4]

Digital Invoicing

Customer Experience

Some two-thirds of Canadian consumers who shop online make their purchases from U.S. websites. That’s a lot of money leaving the country because it has nowhere to go within it. [5]

Payments Regulation

A full description of Payment Regulation laws can be found by going to the Government of Canada Regulation reference link at the end of this section.[6]

Local entities

No local entity is required, even when using Interac, which makes it an exceptionally easy market to enter [7]

Mobile payments

Over 17% of Canadians make online retail purchases via mobile devices more than once a week, and omni-channel fulfillment initiatives are growing in popularity.[8]


The Canadian consumer is quite relaxed regarding delivery speed. He knows: It takes time to deliver goods to remote areas. It is more important that shipment is free and that a delivery date is provided when the order is placed.[9]

Canada is Borderfree's number one market. [10]



A gratifyingly low rate of returns of 4.3% shows that the Canadian consumer does not like to return ordered goods. There are on average 0.2 returns per customer which is significantly below the global reference value. With 40.9% the classic fashion faux pas is the most common return reason: The product does not fit. It also happens that a consumer is not happy with a product in general (30.6%). Compared to the international comparative values, a product is less frequently returned due to defects or quality issues.[11]

Import Duties

The duty valuation method is FOB (Free on Board), which means that the import duty is calculated exclusively on the value of the imported goods. In addition to duty, imports may be subject to other taxes such as GST/PST/HST and excise. Duty rates in Canada range between 0% and 35%, where the average duty rate is 8.56%. [12]


Easily the most multi-lingual country out of the top 10 eCommerce markets studied, Canada is home to over 200 living languages, two of which (English and French) are listed as the official languages. Approximately 98% of the Canadian population reported that it was able to hold a working conversation in either English or French. This linguistic duality presents an obstacle for retailers, sometimes requiring multilingual customer care and sites in both French and English in order to be successful.[13]

Canadian consumers are slightly more critical when it comes to advertising media. Only search engines are considered to be usefull by two thirds of respondents.[14]


Prevalent online spenders in Canada are more likely to be older (35yrs and over) than in other parts of the Americas, although consistent with younger age groups, books and entertainment are the most popular items purchased. Light, medium and heavy shoppers in Canada are consistent in general preference regarding aspects of online shopping that encourage extra spending. Light shoppers are engaged by conventional shopping needs (flexible returns policy), medium shoppers look to avoid registering in order to purchase and heavy shoppers are driven by a more engaging online experience. Regarding payment preference, PayPal has considerable presence in Canada with 69% of shoppers having used PayPal in the past 6 months (global average 40%). [15]

Social Media

Social media engagement in Canada differs from province to province. Quebec is the least connected province with only 49% of population is connected on Social Media Platforms. Most connected province is Ontario with over 67% of the population is on Social Media. Also, 3 most well connected cities in Canada are Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa where social media engagement beats every other Canadian city.[16]

Major shopping categories

Canadians predominantly buy media products online (almost 30% of the overall market, global average: 9%). All other product categories are purchased far below the global average.[17]

Major retail holidays

Canada sees a rise in sales around the fourth quarter holidays, most notably Cyber Week. Holiday digital retail sales accounted for over 18% of the total digital retail sales in 2015. Canadian eCommerce orders grew by 46% for Cyber Week sales between the 2014 and 2015 holidays.[18]

Legal / Regulatory

n general, all existing laws that apply to traditional commerce apply equally in an electronic environment. These include things like laws governing business incorporation, business name registration, taxation, consumer protection, deceptive advertising, importing/exporting, product safety, product standards, criminal code, inter-provincial trade treaties, intellectual property and liability. Your business, regardless of its size, must comply with the laws of any jurisdiction, both within and outside of Canada, where it is deemed to be conducting business.[19]

FX Policies

As of 1 March 2017, the Bank of Canada began publishing new exchange rates for 26 currencies, once each business day by 16:30 ET. Until 28 April 2017, the legacy noon and closing exchange rates will be published in parallel with the new rates to allow users time to make any necessary adjustments. As of 1 May 2017, the Bank will publish only the single daily rate described above. [20]


Smartphone ownership (45%) and levels of online purchasing via smartphones (11%) sit marginally below global averages for Canada. However, Canadian online shoppers show a considerably lower level of enthusiasm for future smartphone purchases, 26% of mobile device owners intending to use a smartphone or tablet device over the next 12 months against a global average of 40%. [21]

Canadians are more likely to have access to and use the Internet than residents of any other G20 nation. [22]


GTE and Keywitness Canada entered an alliance to provide digital e-commerce certificates to Canadian consumers and businesses. Under the alliance, Keywitness Canada will license GTE's CyberTrust e-commerce security technology.[23]

Mobile appetite

In 2015, adults in Canada will spend 71 more minutes with major media each day than they did in 2011, according to new figures from eMarketer. It’s an increase driven by greater digital choice, in particular the use of advanced mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. - See more at:


  1. The Payers "Payment Methods Canada"
  2. Worldpay. "Alternative Payments Report."
  3. The Payers "Payment Methods Canada"
  4. DHL eCommerce "Shop the World!"
  5. Canadian Business. "Canada's Serious ECommerce Problem."
  6. Government of Canada "Electronic Payments Regulation"
  7. GoInterpay. []
  8. PFS Global eCommerce Solutions Provider "2016 Canada eCommerce Market"
  9. DHL eCommerce "Shop the World!"
  10. BorderFree. "Canada ECommerce Report."
  11. DHL eCommerce "Shop the World!"
  12. pitney bowes [ "Duty Calculator Country Guides"]
  13. PFS Global eCommerce Solutions Provider "PFS 2015 Canada eCommerce Study"
  14. DHL eCommerce "Shop the World!"
  15. Worldpay. [ "Global Shopper."]
  16. Rapid Source Marketing "RapidBoost"
  17. DHL eCommerce "Shop the World!"
  18. PFS Global eCommerce Solutions Provider "PFS 2015 Canada eCommerce Study"
  19. Canada Business Network "Canada Business Network"
  20. Bank of Canada "Bank of Canada Exchange Rates"
  21. Worldpay. [ "Global Shopper."]
  22. Canadian Business. "Canada has a Serious ECommerce Problem"
  23. cnet "Short Take: Alliance to provide Canadian e-commerce security"