What does the future hold for Canadian retailers?  Has the online availability of almost anything Canadians need or want begun to dig the grave for the traditional retail store.


There is no reason to assume that there will be a change in the numerous big box outlets that have taken over the Canadian retail landscape in the last two decades but smaller retailers are the ones who are truly at risk.


From consumers who comparison shop for the lowest possible price small retailers seldom get business.  The ease that price comparisons can be made on mobile devices has led to an interesting situation in Australia,  a Brisbane  gluten-free shop ,Celiac Supplies, is now charging a $5 “just looking” fee to browsing customers.

A sign on the stores front door window explains their reasoning.


An interesting idea that may be nothing more than a small retailers last-ditch attempt to save their business but it does bring up some interesting questions.

The store’s owner assumes people are leaving without buying anything and going to buy products at a supermarket chain or online. AdelaideNow reports:

Owner of the gluten-free produce store, Georgina, says she resorted to putting up the sign after spending hours each week giving advice to people who leave empty-handed.

About 60 people a week would go into the store, ask questions and then buy the same or similar product at a supermarket chain or online.

“I’ve had a gut full of working and not getting paid,” Georgina, who didn’t want her surname published, told AAP.

“I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths (large Australian supermarket chains) to make more money.

She has reportedly turned some people away, but has had some willing to pay the toll.

How do consumers use retail stores verses on-line stores when making their purchasing decisions?

A recent Google study found that 51% of shoppers would research online and then visit a store to purchase, while 17% would visit a store first and then purchase online. Another 32% would research online, visit a store to view a product, then return online to purchase it.

“In short, the shopper’s journey looks less like a funnel and more like a flight map, and the lines between online and offline shopping experiences are blurring,” said Google Retail Industry Director Todd Pollak.

True success for small retailers will likely lie in combining the two types of shopping experiences.  A retail location has huge overhead costs compared to its online competitors but using both effectively and to compliment each other may be the only way for Canadian retailers to survive.  A retail location can be used as a “showcase” for consumers to touch and see live the products that the business is selling, real life locations also allow retailers the opportunity to interact and build relationships with their customers that online shopping just does not permit.

Charging an admission fee to visit your local retailer may seem far-fetched but don’t be surprised in the near future to see small businesses trying innovative new ways to create revenue streams in an attempt to combat larger chain stores and internet based shops.

If you are a small business owner or just want to get online quickly at easily without breaking the bank Awesome Canada recommends using GoDaddy hosting service, for under $10 / month you can start building your businesses internet presence.  Some advice on dealing with GoDaddy is to sign up for the 12 month package as you will be given a free domain name, and if you are new to website building make sure to use the WordPress option, they are stacked with free tools and an easy interface to help make your website look its best.





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