Windsor, Ont. –
According to a new report, 81% of local businesses sell online.
Officials at tech company Square say Windsor businesses are the best prepared in Ontario to capture additional online sales as the holiday shopping season approaches.
“Maple products are very popular online,” says Katie Stokes, co-owner of Whiskey Jack Boutique.
Stokes says their Maiden Lane store sells many Canadian related products online and virtual sales have been a priority since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has really caused us to focus on our online store more than we originally would have,” says Stokes. “Being able to make sales 24/7, even when we’re not in the store, is really helpful for a small business.
According to Square economist Felipe Chacon, the lack of American shoppers has made going online a necessity.
“The trend of moving online and the trend away from cash jumped three to five years depending on where you are,” says Chacon.
Chacon says the share of businesses selling online in Windsor was higher than most cities before the pandemic.
“Now it has risen to number one across Canada out of the 30+ subways we reviewed.”
Chacon says the rate of local Windsor-area businesses now selling online far exceeds the national average of 58%. New Ontario data from Square highlights that 63% of Ontario businesses now sell online and that Niagara/St. The Catharine area is home to Ontario’s fastest growing business community moving online.
“We see a consistent trend in border towns that tend to increase the share of businesses selling online,” says Chacon. “There seems to be a pattern of geographic isolation there where cities that are further away or are an international border where there might not be as easy a flow of traffic, especially post-pandemic, seem to have slightly increased online sales than other places. ”
Chacon thinks most companies offer online offerings to reach a wider audience, noting that customers expect online options.
“Everything from curbside pickup to QR codes is just convenience people now expect after the pandemic.”
Ontario cities selling the most online at the end of August 2021:
- Windsor 81%
- Norfolk 68%
- Ottawa 66%
- Hamilton 64%
- Kitchener-Waterloo 63%
- Toronto 60%
According to Square, October is the busiest month for businesses expanding online in preparation for the holidays and the winter sales season.
Chacon says CTV News sectors like food, beverage and retail were early adopters of online spaces, but home repair businesses took longer.
“Even the home and repair type businesses over the last few months have started to feel the pull of the web more and I think that’s the product of their customers waiting for those options.”