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The online shopping revolution: Out here there are no borders

The internet has done many things for us as a society. It’s connected us like never before, shrinking the world and making possible a host of communications and learnings we could never have imagined. It’s made it easier to reach out to friends and strangers alike, to travel the world without leaving our homes. And, of course, it’s changed the way we shop.

Going shopping used to be an activity best reserved for the weekend or quick jaunts away from the office at lunch. You’d pick a destination, set aside the time, and head out armed with your wallet and your imagination.

But shopping doesn’t work that way anymore. With a global market of USD$1.9 trillion, online shopping has created a world where we “no longer ‘go’ shopping, but literally ‘are’ shopping – at every moment and everywhere.” With the emphasis on “everywhere” – we’re no longer bound by main street or the mall. Today’s shopper can go anywhere they choose, spend their dollars wherever they like, and have it all sent to their homes.

Sure, Canada is lagging a bit in adoption rates, but we’re gearing up for a massive transition to online shopping. We’re already avid showroom shoppers – using bricks-and-mortar stores to test drive items before ordering them for less online – but by 2020, Canadians will likely catch up with the rest of the world’s online shopping habits.

And why not? With massive retailers offering low to no-cost shipping and quick turnaround times, shopping online is economical and fun. Not to mention that scrolling through hundreds of items online can be quite addictive.

The trouble is, because the internet is borderless, shoppers can take their dollars anywhere thus removing them from the Canadian economy. Bigger retailers can offer steeper discounts, regardless of exchange rates, and turn your showroom shoppers into their lifetime customers. And according to KPMG’s recent study, everyone’s favourite demographic – the Millennials – are more likely to buy internationally. As their wealth grows, so will their shopping power. So it’s time to pay attention.

Canadian retailers can absolutely compete in the ever-changing borderless online shopping world. With the right omnichannel experience, you can find new ways to delight your customers and earn new levels of loyalty. From emails to personalized offers, you’re primed to kick start your new online shopping experience.

But your bricks-and-mortar experience will actually become more important than ever, as people continue to rely on shops to test drive big ticket items and make returns (and purchases, of course). It’s going to be a long time before Canada goes completely digital – and it might never happen (Amazon has been opening bricks-and-mortar stores and recently purchased Whole Foods) – so continually improving your customer experience will be essential to success going forward.

That means offering free Wi-Fi, using beacons to deliver instant, personalized discounts and promotions on the spot, and finding new ways to delight your customers while they’re in your stores. Never underestimate the power of a helpful store employee, armed with the right technology and access to your entire inventory, to win new customers, close sales, and inspire loyalty.

Check out this infographic to discover how the right Cisco technology can arm your salesforce for success.

Related reading: Showrooming: The New Retail Reality