The evolution of shopping
How Ottawa is taking a bite out the U.S. e-commerce market
Perched on high stools, their faces artificially blushed under the Mercury Lounge’s pinkish stage lighting, several Ottawa e-commerce providers gave their take on the market they play within.
Smartphones have revolutionized everything, requiring new site layouts with less intensive graphics that must avoid Flash in case shoppers are using an iPhone. Retailers are examining items traditionally difficult to sell on the Internet – like appliances – to see how they can move them to “ brick-and-click” stores over brick-and-mortar.
Still, the banter between local firms Shopify, Napkyn, Cactus Commerce and other panellists at November’s OCRI smarTALKS event paled to the larger problem for Ottawa’s e-commerce firms: the lack of a strong Canadian marketplace, at least in comparison with the United States.
Indeed, when Ottawa companies play in that southern field, they often do extraordinarily well.
Take Shopify. In 2010, the four-year-old firm was OBJ’s fastest-growing local company, with 1,174-per-cent growth over its past three fiscal years. It also landed a $7-million venture capital deal with U.S. venture capi- talists this past December.
Like its competitors in Canada and the U.S., most of its business is south of the border.
The interesting part about this question is in the case of Shopify – with more than 10,000 users – 80 per cent or more of users are located in the United States,” said Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s director of business development and general counsel, in December.
“ We are strong in the United States, but that’s maybe a chicken-and-egg question – is it because they like our platform, or do we