By Kate Lunau - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
Meanwhile, Amazon expands pickup locations
More people than ever are shopping on the Internet: Canadians placed nearly 114 million orders online in 2010, worth $15 billion, says Statistics Canada, in its most recent tally. To target those who might still be wary of online shopping, eBay is turning its attention to face-to-face contact. The online marketplace is trying out new services in the U.S., according to All Things D, including a pickup service that sends eBay employees into people’s homes to collect items, which are then sold by “expert sellers” for a cut. Another encourages people to drop off clothes and electronics at mall kiosks, where they’re offered a set price for their goods. eBay is also testing a same-day delivery service so buyers can get the same kind of instant gratification as in-store shopping. Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding its locker service, which allows customers to pick up packages at stores like 7-Eleven. For online giants, future growth seems to be in the offline world.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Multitaskers take online buying to new office heights
Technology hasn’t just changed the way the world works—it has changed the way people lunch. Noon hour is no longer a time to get out of the office and grab a bite with friends, because it’s now an excuse to stay in, eat at your desk—and shop.
Janice Bereskin discovered lunchtime shopping a few years ago. “I don’t skip lunch, but I combine eating and shopping all within my lunch break,” says the Toronto lawyer.
“I can shop for myself, the kids, and talk on the phone all at the same time. It’s so much more efficient than walking to a mall and going store to store.” Not only that, she avoids “pushy salespeople,” and says it gives her a boost. “And you know there will be another boost when the package arrives. It feels like you’ve received a present, even though you paid for it and knew it was coming.” Recent purchases include a Smythe blazer and Rebecca Taylor top from eLuxe.ca.
By Diana Mehta - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 9:02 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Fire up those computers and flex those clicking fingers Canada — it’s…
TORONTO – Fire up those computers and flex those clicking fingers Canada — it’s Free Shipping Day.
As American shopping incentives like Black Friday and Cyber Monday see increased success in Canada, today’s retail event is yet another attempt to entice Canucks to spend.
The one-day online campaign — which has been running south of the border for five years — is being offered for the second year in Canada and has nearly 250 merchants offering free shipping with delivery guaranteed by Christmas Eve.
The lure of free shipping could prove to be a strong one today as high or hidden delivery costs can often be a deterring factor for Canadians shopping online.
“It’s actually more about the delivery promise than it is about the free shipping. But it is the free shipping that grabs people,” said Regina native Luke Knowles, who created the campaign. “Shoppers can save lots of money.”
Knowles said the idea for the event first launched in the U.S. in 2008 grew from the idea that many customers stopped online shopping after the first two weeks of December for fear their items wouldn’t arrive in time to be given as gifts.
“We decide to change the shoppers’ behaviour on that so we combined free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve,” he said.
Retailers taking part in today’s event are listed at www.freeshippingday.ca and range from big brands like The Bay, Sears, Best Buy and Peoples Jewellers to smaller boutiques. Corresponding coupon codes required for some merchants are also listed on the site.
While some merchants will require a minimum purchase amount for the free shipping to apply, Knowles said such conditions are discouraged and, at last count, 58 per cent of participating retailers were offering free delivery for all orders.
The event is much bigger in the U.S., where 2,600 stores participated last year. According to Knowles, the American version of Free Shipping Day saw about a billion dollars in sales in the U.S. in 2011 and ranks among the top five shopping days of the year.
“It’s very well received and we expect in the next couple of years for it to take off like that in Canada as well,” he said.
Last year’s inaugural Canadian campaign saw about 150 retailers participate and seemed to be well received, Knowles said.
“The results were actually quite phenomenal to us,” he said. “The retailers loved it, they received lots of traffic, they made lots of sales.”
If the Canadian response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year is any indication, today’s event could gain traction among Canucks. According to data from debit and credit card processor Moneris Solutions, Canadian spending grew 23 per cent on Cyber Monday and 6.5 per cent on Black Friday this year over last.
For years, both events were largely American campaigns that had Canadians who wanted to participate visiting U.S. websites or crossing the border on the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, which marks the start of the crucial holiday shopping season when retailers turn profits, or go “into the black.”
Cyber Monday emerged as shoppers wanting to continue their Black Friday spree logged-in at home, as well as at work on the following Monday.
A combination of factors — Canadian retailers trying to keep sales local, U.S. competitors setting up shop in Canada, shifting shopping habits and tight-fisted consumers — are helping to establish the events on Canadian soil.
While the success of today’s event remains to be seen, at least one online retail trend observer said an increasing number of Canadians appear to be doing more of their shopping online.
“I think people are becoming more comfortable with online buying,” said Steve Tissenbaum, an instructor with the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management at Toronto’s Ryerson University.
“Online has been dedicated for research prior to this year, but now suddenly there’s a spike and people feel confident that it’s a safer environment and they can shop around for different prices.”
According to Tissenbaum, merchants have competed to offer free shipping of some sort for the past few years, but the new battle for online retail dollars is being fought over price matching.
“The consumer almost expects free shipping now with spending a certain amount of money,” he said.
While anyone can take advantage of the free shipping offers, the Christmas Eve delivery guarantee does not extend to those living in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon.
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 10:22 AM - 0 Comments
Penny Marshall’s memoir sold 2,000 copies—and was banned by bookstores
Amazon, that futuristic pioneer and scourge of old-fashioned media, bet its fledgling publishing business on the star of TV’s Laverne & Shirley. In its attempt to launch the New Harvest publishing group, the online giant put a great deal of money and promotion into Penny Marshall’s autobiography My Mother Was Nuts, its first big entry in the redoubtable celebrity-memoir genre. But the book flopped, selling only about 2,000 copies in its first week. It may be the revenge of the companies Amazon has battered so badly: Barnes & Noble and other brick-and-mortar outlets refused to carry New Harvest books due to what they saw as Amazon’s attempt to drive competitors out of business. Many refused to carry the digital version as well. The boycott has made it difficult for Amazon to attract big-name authors for its original books. Maybe next time, it can at least go with a book from Lenny and Squiggy.
By Julia De Laurentiis Johnson - Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM - 0 Comments
Instead, the illustrator, writer and filmmaker painted pictures of all the goods she coveted
Sarah Lazarovic, a 33-year-old Canadian illustrator, writer and filmmaker, recently created an illustrated essay, A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, about her yearlong shopping diet. She spoke with Maclean’s about the consumer’s psyche, fashion as wearable art and the digital siren song of the neon steam punk vintage aesthetic.
Q: So what’s the story of this shopping diet that resulted in the essay?
A: It’s personal challenge I do every once in a while. I did it once six years ago and it went well so I decided to try it again. Then I saw these beautiful Fluevlog loafers that I really liked and I thought “Ok, I’m not going to buy them. But I think they’d make a really cool painting.” There are other things I can get over. I think to myself, “I’m tired of my bathing suit, I want a new one.” But then I will myself not to buy it and two days later I’ve forgotten about it. But I saw these Fluevogs and thought, “These are my dream shoes.” Then I thought about how sometimes I do paintings as thank you gifts for friends and I really needed some kind of creative exercise so I painted the shoes. Then the essay just followed in a flurry.
Q: You also did a yearlong shopping diet in 2006. How does that one compare to the current one?
A: Six years ago, I didn’t have a kid. I was out more and I would just be strolling down Queen St. and see a cute dress, try it on and buy it–all without giving it much thought. This time around I feel the real culprit is the web. Five or six years ago, I really wanted a satchel backpack, like the French school kid style. I looked everywhere, even when I was in France but I could never find the one I had in mind. Then they came into vogue this year and if you go to Etsy or just Google “leather satchel backpack,” you can find thousands in any kind of style you can imagine. You can Google the most obtuse kind of fashion and find it right away.
Q: Did all that accessibility reinforce your shopping diet ideals?
A: Totally. People buy more, how can you not? You don’t have to go into a shop and hope they have your size; now you don’t have to leave your house and you know an online shop will have your size. And it’s not just clothes: You can find your exact sub group and immediately find the purveyors of said style and before you know it, you’ve bought this totally cool thing. “Oh look, here’s this website that specializes in the neon steam punk vintage aesthetic – they get me!” But that accessibility and ubiquity means you’re likely to buy way more than you need or even want.
Q: And this ubiquity steels your resolve to stick to your guns?
A: Yes, the whole thing kind of made me sick. I would be drawn to the same kind of dress or shoes or bag over and over, the same styles that would already be hanging in my closet. I just thought, “I really don’t need anymore clothes, this is getting ridiculous.” If I do buy online, I buy art or music but I keep it to a minimum.
Q: You have a little girl. Do you transfer all that frustrated shopping desire into buying new stuff for her?
A: It’s so easy. There are so many cute kid clothes and they’re so cheap. So I wanted to put the kid clothes buys on a diet, too. I could go online and buy her a whole new wardrobe at Old Navy for $100. But she’d grow out of it in three months, and there’s the grossness of being able to buy it in minutes and then the added grossness of all the ads that pop up on the web pages I visit advertising the Old Navy toddler size sales. I just noticed I was buying crap. Of course I want her to have enough clothes but she really does. She gets hand-me-downs. If she needs, say, new leggings, I’ll always try a second-hand store first.
Q: Do you miss shopping?
A: Not really. When you get older, you really know your style better, what looks good on you. When you’re younger it’s more about the frivolous buy, just the idea of having something new. I remember when I was younger, it was all about having a new outfit for the first day of school. Maybe not the best outfit, just the newest one. Actually, back then, new was the best. And then when you get older, you realize it’s better to have three dresses that I look amazing in than a new crappy dress that I bought just because I was tired of my old stuff.
Q: Well, retail therapy is a saying for a reason.
A: I know and it’s a gross saying. Also after having this kid, I feel like I want to save my money for her. I would buy stuff for me and think “did I really need that?” I’d feel guilty and self-indulgent. Retail therapy is not really therapeutic for me.
Q: What made you think painting the things you wanted would make you feel better?
A: Well, I can appreciate those things as being beautiful; especially looking at Pinterest, I mean there’s so much gorgeous stuff. When you find a cool homemade dress made by some girl on Etsy, you want to buy it out of a good impulse: that’s a beautiful creation and she’s just like me, an artist trying to make a living. It would be perpetuating a cycle of healthy entrepreneurship. But at the same time, I knew I just couldn’t. So I decided to paint these things I saw.
Q: So you don’t need to possess something to appreciate the beauty of it.
A: Or to be inspired by it. I know a graphic web designer who has this cool retro, sparkly dress on the wall of her shop; she says she looks at it for inspiration. And I thought, why not? It’s just wearable art, after all.
Q: When do you think you’ll start shopping again?
A: I guess I’ll see if I need to come January. I know I need to set limits or I will buy mindlessly. But when I come out of this detox, I hope to be more aware of how I shop, like buying one good pair of shoes for fall, not three. I just won’t go into to places like Forever 21 and H&M, in order to avoid that kind of temptation entirely.
Q: How would you inspire others to go on a shopping diet?
A: It’s not just saving money, because with fast fashion, things are cheaper than ever before. You can go to H&M and drop 50 bucks and buy three new things you think freshen up your wardrobe. It’s mainly about being aware how gross it is to buy so much stuff. More like a psychological shopping diet instead of just a wallet one.
By Cathy Gulli - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 1:20 PM - 5 Comments
Canada Post’s new online shopping service has left some private sector competitors reeling
There was a time when shopping at the post office amounted to choosing between a stamp featuring a native flower, the national flag, or some other patriotic and decidedly non-commercial emblem: the white-tailed deer, Oscar Peterson, or “masterpieces of Canadian art.”
Now, Canada Post, a Crown corporation, is fast becoming the country’s leading online retailer—hawking everything from sweaters, shoes and treadmills to coffee machines, cologne and computers. Last month, in an effort to boost its parcel shipping business (as letter mail sales continue to plummet), the company unveiled the Canada Post Comparison Shopper website, which allows consumers to find, rank and buy their choice of five million products from 500 North American retailers, including Canadian Tire and Sears. Since then, 30,000 Canadians have taken to scrolling through the offerings every day—making it the most visited comparison shopping website in the country, almost instantly.